Nathan Hubbard, founder of Rival and former Ticketmaster CEO.

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For a few years now, there have been whispers that Amazon will be making the jump into the ticketing and events industry to challenge Ticketmaster. They’ve technically already tested the waters but have since taken a few steps back. It looks as if Ticketmaster could have yet another challenger except this time, from a familiar face. Entrepreneur Nathan C. Hubbard once served as Ticketmaster’s CEO and recently left Twitter as head of it’s commerce initiative. He has now secured more than $30 million from various investors to launch ‘Rival’, a ticketing company that will aim to manage tickets sales and customer relationships in a more efficient manner.

Rival will be headquartered in Los Angeles, California and has already received investments from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz (venture capital firm), Upfront Ventures, Dick Costolo (former Twitter CEO), Patrick and John Collison (founders of Stripe), April Underwood (Slack) and unnamed professional sports teams. Rival’s primary goal will be to better identify and understand the customers that are purchasing tickets to live events. Gaining knowledge of event-goers has been a challenge with such a widely utilized secondary ticket market which includes companies like StubHub, TicketNetwork and Vivid Seats. Tickets can change hands many times before an event takes place; concepts like paperless ticketing aim to curtail this phenomenon.

Rival will also utilize a third-party integration system similar to the one SeatGeek and AXS currently use. Rival’s software, which is currently in development, will allow various sports teams to require fans to purchase digital tickets as well as upload photos of themselves to prove their identity. Upon arriving to the stadium, the team would then snap a second photo of the individual’s face to ensure that they’re the person that purchased the tickets. As teams and venues become more educated about the identity and behaviors of the people coming to events, they’ll be able to better pitch other products like seat upgrades, merchandise and concession offerings. The result is a dramatic increase in revenue.

Ticketmaster is currently developing a product with a similar concept called “Presence”. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, is the only major venue that currently offers facial recognition technology. Ticketmaster nearly has a monopoly on the primary ticket market via it’s exclusive partnerships with sports teams, stadiums and concert venues. In Rival’s early stages, they will attempt to partner with Ticketmaster before becoming a direct competitor on a larger scale.

In the past, Nathan Hubbard has shown that he is passionate about not just the fan experience but also the success of merchants as well. He clearly understands both sides of the business being a former season ticket holder of both the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Redskins as well spending time as a Ticketmaster exec. A few years ago, Hubbard wrote op-ed pieces about how the secondary ticket market is killing season ticket sales as well as  why NBA Finals tickets were so difficult to come by for the average fan. While at Twitter, Hubbard also oversaw an initiative that helped the Atlanta Hawks sell tickets on Twitter; a franchise that typically struggles with attendance in one of professional sports’ largest markets.

No matter the outcome of Rival’s run at the primary ticket market, it’s going to disrupt a ticketing and events sector that still has plenty of room for growth and innovation.


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