How Eventbrite’s CEO Sees Web3 Revolutionizing Events, Transactions And More

Julia Hartz is a Founding BFF. The Founding BFFs are comprised of more than 100 female and non-binary leaders across crypto, tech, design, business, and more. Just like our community, some are new to crypto, and others are full-on experts.

Who: Julia Hartz, Co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite

Web2 Julia: Julia is an entrepreneur, investor, and the co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, a global self-service ticketing, marketing, and experience technology platform. She is best known for her leadership at Eventbrite and empowering women in the technology industry.

Web3 Julia: Julia is seeing Web3 events on Eventbrite's platform skyrocket.

Her TLDR: The biggest issue I think Web3 had in the last year is that it's a solution for a problem that has not yet been identified…We're in the very early days of figuring out what problems actually need to be solved. 

Edited excerpts: 

What was your “aha” moment when it came to Web3?

It started with Bitcoin back in 2013. I started to loosely follow crypto around that time. In 2017, we invested in OpenSea. We started to look at the underlying technologies that can drive this new form of commerce and how this can open up opportunities for events and other technologies. 

Web3 came on my rader about two or three years ago when we were talking about what the blockchain could mean for ticking in particular. Having registered ownership over a digital asset is relevant to Eventbrite, and we started thinking about different ideas around the secondary market and what that could mean for high-demand events. There is this archaic problem of secondary ticket sales that is pretty predatory in nature and tajes the revenue from the creator and puts it into the pockets of all these different brokers.

You had to transform Eventbrite’s business during the pandemic while getting up to speed on Web3. What was that like? 

Coming out of COVID, we were focused on helping our event creators stay in business, but then I felt this pull of Web3 that might inform the future of the business. That was my “WTF” moment, because I knew that our creators needed something that actually Web3 was not going to deliver for them. But the future of live gathering absolutely encompasses not only Web3, but the blockchain, metaverse and NFTs. There was this tension of wanting to leap to the future, but not wanting to abandon our customers and help them get through what they needed to get through. 

Any frustrating moments along the way?

When I joined the Discord for BFF, there was a moment of, what are all these acronyms? On the flip side, I found that when you really step back and think about Web3 in an inclusive manner, it's actually not rocket science. It’s really understandable when you break it down into the basics. I think BFF has done an exceptional job at that, but it's also like what it used to be like dialing up to AOL. It’s so inefficient, it can be so incredibly and surprisingly expensive. And then you have that layer of fraud that inherently creeps into new industries.

How has the bear market shifted your thinking on Web3? 

Before the bear market, I think the fervor and the hype started to drown out the actual process of finding problems to solve. The biggest issue I think Web3 had in the last year is that it's a solution for a problem that has not yet been identified. And that's the exciting part about things like OpenSea. There is obviously a need there. There's actually a desire for people to participate in a marketplace that really puts the value of the creation and art into the hands of the artists themselves and cuts out the middleman. We're in the very early days of figuring out what problems actually need to be solved. And that's how I think about it: What problems are our customers trying to solve? And can a Web3 solution help solve it better and faster for them? That's when we'll invest. 

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How is Web3 already shifting the work you do at Eventbrite?

We're seeing some clear signs of consumer demand, around the subject of Web3 on the platform. Events related to Web3 are up 9000% in the first half of this year. Events related to blockchain are up 120%. Events related to crypto are up 160%. And events related to NFTs are up 750%. 

The opportunity is really around connecting a community deeper around an event. So today, you join a community, that community has events and that's a very basic formula of how events occur. Your identity is within that community, which propels you to go to that event, whether it's because you wanna discover a new community or you want to connect with a community that you're already a member of. I think deepening that bond through things like proof of attendance protocol (POAPs) or NFTs that really signify that moment in time and that can create some sort of utility benefit around that community that's attached to the event is the next frontier. 

I also think the blockchain is going to become potentially a very important part of how we transact. Consumer trust is something that's really important to us. As more and more consumers adopt the blockchain and want to be transacting on the blockchain, that's just going to be a natural evolution of any transaction engine. Last year alone, we powered over 5.3 million events and we are transacting billions of dollars in ticket sales, and these are mostly micro-transactions, meaning the average ticket price is less than $40. So it really does matter to us how quickly, fast and effectively we can transact a ticket. 

There is this trend now where some are saying “everything is going to be an NFT.” What do you think?

I think we are already there. When you think about how close we are to not having our silly plastic credit card or not needing that silly little book that we carry around and get stamps from all over the world. I think that we are so close to everything that matters to us being digitized that I don't think there's any way that we can go back to some other reality.

What do you think the legacy will be of this latest market downturn for Web3 companies?

We went through the 2008 recession at Eventbrite already. I think that we will always tell the story about this recession with a chapter on crypto. And it's not because crypto is causing the recession, it's just that this is a notable sidenote for this period of time that wasn't around the last time with the housing crisis. It’s not going to be the headline, but it will be a sub-note. I think the thing that's important to remember is that good things can come out of these bad moments and the reason why it's a bad moment is not because the value of crypto goes down. It's because people made bets and commitments and promises based on something that is volatile. 

What will be productive is the fact that when a tide recedes, the best companies make it out because they're the ones with swim trunks on, right? So you really get to see who was actually executing and had traction and who wasn't. And it's brutal, but it happens. And this has happened before and so it shouldn't be a surprise that this would happen again. I do think that we're gonna see some really great companies rise out of this, and I'm excited to see that because I think that the rising tide will raise all boats and for companies like Eventbrite that are coming through Web2 and transforming into using Web3 tools to modernize our infrastructure and to provide value for our customers will benefit from all the things that are going to be built right now. 

You have experience entering rooms where not a lot of people look like you. Advice for those entering into Web3 having that experience right now?

You have to look for the opportunity and the competitive advantage of being different. That is something that I think everyone should keep top of mind when they're looking at a room that isn't filled with people who look like them. Instead of getting down and starting to look around and wonder if you belong, figure out how you are unique and how you can turn that into a competitive advantage. At the same time, find your tribe of people. I think that's what BFF has done to really help women and non-binary people leap frog from where they are today. Feeling like maybe they don't belong to a place where they absolutely belong or are welcomed and are moving the agenda forward together. And so that's gonna be a huge advantage for women during this period of time as we all recollect ourselves, learn and build.

This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.

Caroline Fairchild is Editor in Chief at BFF

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