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Seatgeek CEO details ‘huge amount of pent-up demand’ for live events

Seatgeek CEO Jack Groetzinger joins Yahoo Finance Live anchors discuss the pent-up demand for ticketed events, the recent surge in ticket sales amid the 2022 NFL season, raising $238 million in funding, and competition in the ticket marketplace.

Video Transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

JULIE HYMAN: It's NFL season, folks. The 2022 season coming in full force with the Buffalo Bills securing their first win at the Los Angeles SoFi Stadium. Good news not only for Bills fans, but also for SeatGeek. The mobile-first live entertainment platform says NFL ticket demand is heating up across the board. Cofounder and CEO Jack Groetzinger with more on the state of ticketed events. He's joining us right now.

Hey, Jack, good to see you. So talk to me about how NFL demand is shaping up right now. I mean, obviously, it's been an unusual couple of years when it comes to live sporting events. So it must be kind of a relief this year.

JACK GROETZINGER: It has. Not quite what we expected a few years ago. But one consequence of COVID is there's just a huge amount of pent up demand with so many people who were trapped in their homes, felt like they couldn't go to stuff, and now they finally can. And as a result, we have seen a real surge in how many folks are going to events. It's the NFL, it's also other events as well. It's really across the board.

BRIAN SOZZI: Jack, we've been talking all morning long how people are trading down to different stuff, from chicken to tuna fish, you name it. Do you see them trading down in what tickets they're buying?

JACK GROETZINGER: We've seen prices be-- prices are up overall since pre-COVID. But actually year-over-year, if you compare to last year, they're pretty flat. The volume is higher. So we haven't seen people compromising on the types of seats they're buying. I think because live entertainment was so impacted by COVID, it's responding a little bit differently than so many other consumer categories.

JULIE HYMAN: I mean, big ticket concerts are certainly back. I was browsing on your platform. We're talking $500 to see Harry Styles. And there are some other, you know, three digit and up numbers for a lot of these concerts. What do you make of that phenomenon? And are we seeing-- is that different than what we saw prepandemic just in terms of the sheer price for these shows?

JACK GROETZINGER: When you think about the effect of COVID on live entertainment-- obviously, it affected sports and music, but it affected music even more because to some extent, you can play a sports game with not all the fans there and in some cases, no fans there. That doesn't make any sense for a concert. It would be a pretty, pretty boring concert.

So as a result, artists had to really fully put things on hold. And tours are something artists rely on to make money for their income. So we finally are reaching a point where artists are comfortable and confident that there's no more cancellations in our future. That they can announce major tours. And we're seeing that. And I think we're actually still in the relatively early innings of seeing that.

There's, like you mentioned, some major tours right now-- Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, Elton John. But we're gonna see even more over the rest of this year and next year, just because there's such a backlog of demand to tour.

JULIE HYMAN: And Jack, the business of ticketing in concerts in particular, but across the board, is very competitive. And I think of Live Nation, in particular, which is now doing this dynamic pricing where they're trying to capture more of the demand that maybe otherwise would be going to your business. How is that playing out for you guys?

JACK GROETZINGER: Our focus is on getting as many tickets into the hands of as many fans as possible and doing that in a way that's really effortless and easy. We have a feature called Deal Score, which is all focused on, is this a good deal? Is this a bad deal? Helping fans sort from thousands of tickets and get the very best value.

For us and for our clients, we just want real fans to be able to go to as many events as possible. And I think historically, due to some of the incumbents, the technology that's out there, the way they've run their businesses has actually impeded that and in some ways has prevented the market from being much larger than it could be. So we're a technology company. We're focused on basically using software to allow people to buy more tickets, feel better about it, and go to more stuff.

BRIAN SOZZI: Jack, it sounds like you've got a heck of a story to pitch to investors. Take us through why not-- why did the SPAC fall apart? Why did you decide to raise more money?

JACK GROETZINGER: We were working with Red Ball on this SPAC. They were incredible partners. We were really excited to be working with them. And due to what everyone is seeing in the broader public markets, decided that it was not a good time to be going public. Probably not that surprising for everyone who has been following along.

So we mutally made the decision, that now is not the right time for seeking to [? de-SPAC. ?] And on the other side of the coin, we had our investors seeing our numbers, and just seeing really outstanding growth, more than doubling the size of our business year-over-year, and they were eager to put more money in. And we were delighted to do that.

So we were actually pretty substantially oversubscribed for this round. We ended up raising much more than we intended to. But we're in the fortunate position to do that just because we've, I think, positioned ourselves to really benefit from a lot of this post-COVID recovery, and have more and more fans than ever, by a pretty wide margin, buying on SeatGeek.

JULIE HYMAN: Maybe you set your fundraising goal too low then, Jack. It sounds like perhaps. You know, it was a series E. So obviously, you've been through A through D before this. How did this one compare? I mean, not-- you know, you just told us a little bit about it being oversubscribed. But I am curious how the process compared to when money seemed to be a lot more flowing, right, a couple of years ago.

JACK GROETZINGER: Yeah, for us we were fortunate in that it was inbound-driven, meaning it's not like we were out there pitching folks. It was driven by investors who wanted to be part of SeatGeek, many of which were already on our cap table. And as a result, it was a pretty quick, efficient process. The fact, there was so much demand helped as well.

It's definitely a little bit different for us than you hear about in the broader narrative right now. But I think that's a testament to our business and the way it's growing as things come back after COVID.

JULIE HYMAN: Jack, what are you most excited to go to in person?

JACK GROETZINGER: Great question.

JULIE HYMAN: I think I've asked you this before. And I know you have-- it's tough to-- it's tough to figure it out.

JACK GROETZINGER: No, the answer changes every time, right?

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, of course.

JACK GROETZINGER: So I grew up in Cleveland. I'm a huge Cleveland Cavs fan. And we're honored to have the Cavs as a client. And the Cavs made a rather each trade this year, which is going to make a great team even better. So I am really stoked to go back home and watch some Cavs games.

JULIE HYMAN: Nice. How about concert?

JACK GROETZINGER: Concerts? Great question.

JULIE HYMAN: [LAUGHS] This is a hard one, huh? All right--

JACK GROETZINGER: I'm--

JULIE HYMAN: I don't mean to put--

JACK GROETZINGER: I have a soft spot for Elton John, who just announced a tour. So I already have tickets to see that. I'm excited.

JULIE HYMAN: Nice.

BRIAN SOZZI: Jack, I was waiting for you to say Bad Bunny. Just say it. You just gotta say--

JACK GROETZINGER: No. I thought--

BRIAN SOZZI: --Bad Bunny.

JACK GROETZINGER: --about it. But I don't want to lie to you, it's not the very top of the list.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, fine.

JACK GROETZINGER: No.

BRIAN SOZZI: Fair enough.

JULIE HYMAN: I mean, Elton. Elton's not-- you know.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, OK.

JULIE HYMAN: That was big of you.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right. All right, OK, we'll leave it there. SeatGeek cofounder and CEO, Jack Groetzinger, good to see you. We'll talk to you soon.

JACK GROETZINGER: Thanks, guys.