Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.
Tue, 25 Aug 2020 23:35
We're joined by two very special guests, Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz and her cofounder, spouse and Eventbrite Chairman Kevin Hartz, to tell their story of building Eventbrite together (along with their lives and family) from the PayPal diaspora to bootstrapped business, unicorn status, IPO and now starting all over again in the wake of COVID with both a tragedy and a huge new opportunity in front of them as public company.
If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show (including the episode with Kevin on SPACs), the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new Book Club live sessions with authors like Hamilton Helmer of 7 Powers and Will Thorndike of The Outsiders. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/
New! We're codifying our own Playbook notes and takeaways from each episode, and posting them here in the show notes and on our website. You can read them below or at: www.acquired.fm/episodes/eventbrite
You guys are probably getting annoyed because we should get started, huh? No, I mean, I think we have enough tape here of just breakfast sandwich conversation that that can be the episode. Good. I hope you really go there. Welcome to season seven, episode two of acquired. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. Today we come to you with the long overdue story of Eventbrite. This is, of course, a fascinating one right now, an events company during a global pandemic with minimal human contact, and nearly all in-person gatherings having been canceled. And while it's interesting to dive into how Eventbrite is problem solving in this era, the history of the company is unique and something that we haven't really covered on acquired. A husband-wife founding team. We're in the unique position to be joined by CEO Julia Hartz and her co-founder and husband Kevin, who was also the longtime CEO and is now chairman. Rather than the full blow-by-blow of the company, we're going to zoom in on a few key moments together with them. The 2006 founding and how deeply intertwined the company is with Kevin and Julia as a couple of years ago, and the company is with Kevin and Julia as a couple and as a family, 2018 when Julia led the company through IPO, and how they are managing and streamlining the business today through the coronavirus. We will also be continuing our discussion on the LP show with Kevin on his new secret until last week project, a $200 million special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC that he has launched. Yeah, we're going to go deep on this potentially revolutionary way to go public that is now hot off the presses officially endorsed by the anti-IPO crusader himself, Bill Gurley. We'll also talk with Kevin about why everyone seems to be rushing to raise these things right now, how they fit into the last decade of staying private longer, and how he believes it's truly in the spirit of Silicon Valley to leverage old mechanisms like this to unlock new innovation. And as always, if you want to listen to that or any of the LP episodes, you can click the link in the show notes or go to acquired.fm slash LP. Now, just one announcement from us this time before diving in. We read every single survey response, which thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback, and we learned that the number one way that all of you found out about the show was word of mouth from a friend or from a colleague. Now, this is a gift because of course, who doesn't love organic growth, but also partially a curse since it actually makes it hard for us to repeat. So we have a favorite ask today to pick your favorite episode and share it with a friend or on social media to help our little experiment of seeing if we can move the needle just by asking. We've also heard that a bunch of you have started discussion groups within your company Slack with your colleagues, which was just a fun pattern to see among all the survey responses. So anyway, that's our one ask today. No Slack podcast reviews, feedback, any that just pick an episode, share it, say why you love it. And thank you. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor, but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the Founders podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is acquired and founder. So we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of founders. Well, David Senra, hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together and then they say it's like the best curriculum for founders and executives. It really is. We use your show for research a lot. I listened to your episode of the story of Achaomarita before we did our Sony episodes this incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to founders until acquired because all of history's greatest entrepreneurs and investors. They had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments is unacquired. We focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of founders listeners. There's the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur personally is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's my hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes who were their heroes. And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use those ideas. And so I think what requires doing what a founder trying to do as well is find the best ideas in history and push them down the generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well, listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. Well, David, I think it's time to dive in with Kevin and Julia on event, right? Indeed. And I don't think certainly not on this show if we ever had a company that is so tied in with the personal history of the founders, which we will get into in just a second. But before we talk about you guys, Kevin and Julia together, let's talk about your backgrounds beforehand, because they were pretty different, right? Maybe Kevin, we can start with you since you're the more traditional Silicon Valley background, original PayPal Mafia member. How did you end up getting into entrepreneurship in your first company with Connect Group? Well, to start out with, I do need to give a shout out to Ben and David, because authentically, the Pinterest breakdown, it was an excellent podcast if you haven't listened to it. You need to have seen and been kind of on the periphery of spectator. I had the good fortune of being a seed investor in Pinterest. It's an excellent breakdown. The best I've heard to date. So thank you on that. Thank you. It's a rare opportunity where we get to have listeners on the show. And so it's super fun to have you on. Well, I don't know if I would have joined the show had I not heard that. And I remember working out, listening to it last summer going, wow, yes, that's correct. They got it right. They got it right for an insight. So very well done. I'll talk a bit about my background. How far back do you want me to go? We've done it for hours. I think maybe most interesting is like you were part of this time at Stanford and all these people who came out of it that shaped so much of Silicon Valley. What was that moment like for you and how you and this group of people became part of Silicon Valley in the early days? So I had the good fortune of meeting Peter Teal. Also Keith Rebois. I was an undergraduate student at the law school. And we were involved in student politics together. And believe it or not, there was a mutual degree of respect for one another. Even though we were on different sides of the political aisle, it was a time when there was healthy discourse back and forth. And we wish that would be more of the case today. But I got to know Peter and he's just a phenomenally brilliant non-conventional thinker. He's one of a kind. We're lucky to have him in the valley. And after that period at Stanford, we reconnected in the late 90s. And he went to law school, was an attorney, had then traded derivatives and quickly figured out that was not for him. And came out and we reconnected. He joined up with Max Lebchen, which brought in the UIUC mafia, the University of Illinois, another great diaspora of great engineers, which Mark and Dresden was part of that as well. So there's this deep interconnectedness. And you had ended up at Silicon Graphics, right? Well, I did start out at Silicon Graphics. It was a kind of Google at its time. Most people are too young to remember it. It's a barricade, but they made these very powerful graphics workstations that for me, it was a chance to look into the future. You had a super fast processor. You had the bandwidth on campus, on the Silicon Graphics campus, which is now the Googleplex funny enough. So you got to see video, you got to see graphics, you got to look into what the future would be like in five to 10 years. And that was very important view of how to look ahead and think ahead that has influenced me quite a bit. And that second component, as we talk about the fabled PayPal diaspora or PayPal mafia, was just how strong that talent was. So it was Peter on the Stanford side, it was Max Lebchen on that University of Illinois side, and each of them were a magnet to the talent that came on. Ruloth Boatha, now running the North American venture fund. He is a phenomenal investor. Of course. Chief Rebois, now over at Founder's Fund, again with this tight relationships in that sinew that exists there. Is sinew the right word? If so, it's the first time that word's been used on the show. You know, like sinew like cart ledger, it is read Hoffman Founder of LinkedIn and an extraordinary thinker in person. It is Elon Musk. So this was a chance to say here's a bet on people. I had the good fortune to get involved as an investor in PayPal before they launched. This was pre-merger with the Elon's company? Yes, at the time that PayPal merged with X.com, it was often running in its current mode, which is online payments. And this first integration, and it was an informal integration with eBay, which was their first vertical. So Peter was in the team, we're working on mobile security. They were back at the time when it was the Palm Pilot. Yeah, infrared money transfer. That's correct. And what they found is that infrared money transfer had to be done physically. And they found they were very observant. I think that's a thing to think about as a founder is that you want to try a lot of different experiments. And you want to watch and see what happens when you are, when your products are market and where it gets used. So what happened is that the accounts were based on email. They were then figuring out that there were ways for merchant to transfer money online and it quickly spread to eBay, where it was the leading at the time e-commerce marketplace site, where the merchants found this great way to get paid immediately, which was not obvious at the time and kind of crazy. And Kevin, when you say you were an investor pre-launch, how did that sort of come to be? Did Peter bring you into it or how did that opportunity sort of present itself? We met down at a restaurant called Hobie's right off campus for brimes. Yeah, of course. And I had the good fortune of kind of a quick flip. It was almost this YC-like business where we were actually providing internet access to hotels. We had incorporated in April and we were acquired in October. And it wasn't anything like a life changing amount of money, but it was a pretty good amount that allowed me to invest directly. And this is Connect Group? That was Connect Group, that's correct. And it was acquired by a company called LodgeNet, which way back when was the way to get movies on demand? They had the PN64 controller that had the games baked in. That's right. In fact, in the basement of a hotel, they used to have these first VHS and then DVD banks to actually serve up the film. And that was how pre-data in internet that it actually was. And they looked towards internet connectivity as the way to offer a second product alongside. Were your parents upset that you'd taken the earnings from that acquisition and put it all into an investment? I'm sure they imagined at that point you would use it to put it down. You need to transfer your money out of the house and settle down. And the way that they raised it, it's important to do exactly opposite of what your parents say. So, my parents all along the way were just thought I was insane. What would you be doing? This is important for founders is that when you're doing something kind of contrarian that is against the grain, your parents want you to do something safe. So, I think that's a fairly common theme among great founders, even when it's sort of reached escape velocity. So, I think that's a great way to get your parents off in five-year lag on skepticism. That's a great way to phrase it. Maybe it's a KPI. Is that you have your growth KPI's, your year-over-year growth, your key performance indicators of other methods of growth of the business. But that notion that your parents are still disgusted and dismayed and embarrassed is something to track on a monthly basis. Like a parental NPS. Or you can assume that's something to be detractors. That's a good idea. Wow. Kevin, we could do a whole sort of valley history thing here. Bring us through selling a company to PayPal and then take us all the way up to starting event bright. And then I want to get Julia's side of the starting event bright story. Well, early on, like Silicon Graphics, I think Julia was still in elementary school. She was a ballerina. And so I'd rather not do this side-by-side comparison. I think that's very important not to do. It's 10 years between us. She's always had a point that is. It's like a whole generation. And it gets smaller and smaller with every year that goes by. Yeah. Like eventually someone's going to ask who is 10 years older. And then the agreement is that I can kill him. All right. Well, now that's recorded. Yeah. It is on the record. So as we understand the history at least, you know, PayPal in those early days pre acquisition by eBay, there was a lot of stuff going on. Like lots of great ideas. Obviously tons of companies that got spun out. But there were a few ideas that got left on the cutting room floor that PayPal would do. One of those ideas was international money transfer that you would obviously pick up the mantle to assume. If we have our history right there was also an events idea that maybe I got left on the cutting room floor, but we'll save that for a little bit later in the episode. How did Zoom then XOOM come out of your experience there? Well, I see that you both have done your homework extremely well. What had happened is that a fellow named Dave McClure had joined David Sax's group. David is an extraordinary product person and now Ren's Adventure fund out here in the valley called Craft Ventures. He's a great investor and a great product person. But Dave was running product at the time at PayPal. We had discussed, well, your payments platform. You're not just a payments company and just like the great companies of the time and into the future, when you have a platform you build an API. So this is kind of pre-striped sort of things. And Dave McClure joined and we turned out to be the first developers on it. And we kicked around a lot of different ideas including ticketing. But what we honed in on and that was in discussions with Ruloff and with Peter was this money remittance thing. They said that if we weren't doing merchant processing at the scale that we're achieving right now, we've got to focus ourselves. We would be going after this big lumbering incumbent that charges these egregious rates called Western Union. And this was a kind of missionary zeal for us because it was a way to help immigrants send money back to their families. Kind of faster, better and cheaper than the incumbents, the money grams and Western unions out there. And so you started that on the PayPal API. Was it a separate company from the start or did it get started sort of within PayPal? And then you sort of spun it out. How did that work? I would say I was never part of the PayPal mafia. I wasn't a team member there. I foolishly turned down advances to join the company. But I had PayPal FOMO when they opened the API and saw that we could be the first builders on top of that. We incorporated and built the entity and rule off and Peter had agreed to fund us off to be the first investors and invest 500K off the PayPal balance sheet. But we were foiled because after PayPal went public, it was quickly acquired. Makewipment and the team came in and acquired the business and the deal was off. So we had launched, we were sending money to the Dominican Republic and we started to go out and fundraise. And the venture capitalists at the time just thought we were crazy and saying things like immigrants can't send money. Leave it to VCs to just say stupid non-sequitur things like that. Insane, you know, and that's the whole point of venture and to have these types of misconceptions. But Peter Teal exited as the deal closed and he wrote our first check for 500K in the business was often running. We had really bootstrapped it and we were able to show good unit economics and along the way, Rulloff was who had joined Sequoia soon after and was watching us as well. And I think we were his first investment maybe. I think his second was YouTube. Yeah, as either you or YouTube. Okay, so this is the perfect point. So all this year, you're spending up zoom, starting to go out and raise money. You go down to Santa Barbara for a wedding. Correct. What happens at this wedding? This is where I want to bring Julie into the story. So Julie, I think we should talk about your background before this too, but just for the continuity sake, take it forward from this wedding. So it was May. May 24. May 24, 2003. I could never forget that date until just now. And my first boss at MTV Jennifer Salt skiver was marrying Kevin's classmate from Stanford, Dan Lovie. And I had heard sort of about Kevin, but we hadn't met and I ran into the church pretty late before the ceremony. And I was a reader in the wedding. So I had to sit on the edge, which by the way is the best way to do a wedding because then you don't have to be in the wedding party, but you still get the place of honor. I was winning. Yes. And so I needed to sit on the edge. So I kind of ditched my MTV friends to go sit where I could access the podium. And I asked a guy and a bunch of, you know, maybe his friends to move over. And so I shut me over. Yeah. I've been shoving you ever since. He started talking to me and I was pretty nervous because I didn't know if the poem was up on the podium. And I was 23. So maybe, you know, I was a pretty mature 23, but I didn't bring the poem with me. So I was ruminating on that. And this guy was just chatting me up. And then I thought, well, you know, everybody at this wedding is really old. So he's probably married or something. And then I went and did the, did the reading. And he said, you did awesome. I'm so proud of you. Who is this? Are you? She really did. She has a natural presence that has been important in building the culture at Eventbrite through, you know, in our second decade now. So that it was it. That was it. One line. And I was, I was caught. And I remember looking at him across the, the stairs whenever, you know, when we were all clapping in the bride and the groom were running out. And I thought, what a great guy. I'll probably never see him again because the wedding was massive. I mean, these are two wonderful people who have huge families and huge sets of friends who are just like those people like they connect everyone. So we went to the reception and I was standing with the, my colleagues from MTV and we were talking about, you know, ceremony and all of a sudden my current boss kind of gave me a weird look. And I turned around and there's Kevin standing there like a really sweet. It wasn't cheesy. It was sort of like a sweet puppy with a whole tray of drinks. And he's like, hey, do you guys want drinks? And I'm like, okay, I'm not going to, I'm going to see this guy again. I'm a full service investor. That's the type of investor I am. I'll bring a founder's drinks. He knows a good deal when he sees it. So it sounds weird. Yeah. So Julia, you know, you mentioned MTV there. Let's talk about your background before this day and what would become eventbray. You weren't part of the PayPal mafia. It was pretty different, but you did grow up also in the Bay Area. You end up working at MTV. You're one of the team that puts Jackass on the air, which thank you by the way that was like my afternoons growing up in Pennsylvania by the TV. How did you end up with a pretty huge amount of responsibility like really quickly in your career at this big network at the time? Well, I wouldn't overstate it, David. I would say that I was coming up in my career from a very junior place. I got my foot in the door really early on by interning during college. So I had two paying jobs and a full-time internship for most of my time at Pepperdine. And I was taking my classes at night. So my friends joke still that they used to call me grandma because, you know, I was in a round a lot and I went to bed early. But I was able to really identify what I wanted to do in Hollywood pretty early on. And so I went straight from graduation into an assistant role in this series development department at MTV. And what I loved about it was that it was a blend of creative and content and business. It's effectively being a VC for the network. So you listen to pitches and you make some bets and then eventually you get to, you know, you see it invests and then you get to IPO. I was so fortunate because I was an intern when the Jackass team sent their demo tape in. And this was the pre-streaming era. This was early 2000s in Hollywood. You could tell it. It was nothing like this at the time. Yeah, you could tell the disruption was coming, but it was really sort of coming from content, not from technology. So seeing something like that was pretty incredible. And this was maybe the second dawn of reality television. I was working in the, with the team that brought real world and road rules to audiences. So that was really sort of one of the first big franchises. And then this came along. It was just really different. And the other series development team was working on the Jessica Simpson show. So we were like, this couldn't be more different. You know, there's a little bit of inner competition between the teams. And so we went for it. And huge praise to MTV for doing that. I think we saw it from seed to IPO. I was on the team when it debuted. And then eventually we produced a movie. And the best part of working on that show by and large were the weekly standards and practices, legal and OSHA calls that we did. And it was one big call where the guys would be on speaker phone. And they would have faxed, I mean, again, I'm dating, they would faxed through these like one single spaced line pages of just ideas that they wanted to do. And then everyone had to go around and talk about how we could possibly do that on cable television. And it was, it was real special. But so what's so amazing about all this is like now, I mean, I haven't gone back and watched rewatch Jack as I probably should have been prepped for this episode. But it probably is so tame, right? All this would be on YouTube. And it would be, you know, David Dobrik and all the TikTok, you know, houses and kids doing all this stuff. And now it's just part of the mainstream. But like this was, this was the beginning. This was for YouTube because I remember Kevin showing me the first YouTube video. What was like a cow man, I'm going to mess it up. I feel like it was like a cat at a zoo or something. It was like it was short. It was like 15 seconds. It was Javid Kren who I went on with Keith for two invests with a few years. Like the three of us seen invested in Airbnb and in a few others to name. But Javid, there were three co-founders of YouTube and Javid left fairly early on. But the very first video was Javid in front of an elephant making some commentary. I have to do. Yeah. I have to do. Yeah. All right. We are on the mother of all. Oh, all dead. Okay. So on the back of this, though, you guys start dating after the wedding. You're thinking about coming back up to the Bay Area. You're thinking about getting engaged. You get hooked up with the current TV folks. And a lot of listeners probably don't remember this. But current TV was like a big startup. The screen savers. There was an amazing program. Yeah. Al Gore was one of the co-founders. And it was going to be, well, in a lot of ways, it probably was like a the wrong vision of YouTube. But you get connected with them. You end up getting a job offer to join as part of the founding team of current TV right and come back to the Bay Area. Are you thinking you're going to take this? Absolutely. I mean, I, you know, up until meeting Kevin, I had, you know, set my sights on something achieved it. Set my sights on something achieved it just was very linear. And I thought, you know, at the time I was at FX Networks. I'd moved on to a new new opportunity and was working with the kings of content. So there was really no reason why I should have left. However, spending two years going back and forth between San Francisco and L.A. It really showed me the stark differences between what was happening in Silicon Valley during that Renaissance period and what was happening in Hollywood. And they were two diametrically opposed stories. You know, now they've, they've merged into one. But there was no Netflix or Amazon or Apple. There were, you know, it was obviously there was, but they weren't into content creation. And yet I would absorb a lot from Kevin and figured out that even though I grew up near San Francisco, I grew up near Silicon Valley in a small beach town called Santa Cruz. I had no idea what was going on. I sort of missed the boom and the bust. And I was learning from Kevin that, you know, there's, there's a place where you can go and create ideas and move really quickly. And velocity has always been an attribute that I've prioritized that I really value. So I sort of felt like I was, I was in the wrong industry. But because I was such a, you know, kind of in a way of rule follower, I thought, well, you like the organization kid, right? Yeah, exactly. I'll move to San Francisco. My parents, you know, my family, I'm very close to my family. So that'll be great. We got engaged. So that was sort of the impotence of, okay, we're going to move forward with life here. And I will find a job where my skill set matches, but it also has influence from tech. And so I got this offer and it was super low. I mean, it wasn't going to be a senior member of the team because again, I'm still only five years into my work career. Like, you know, so I was going to be like a mid-level executive on the startup team. And I was going to take it. And I paused long enough to double check with Kevin if I should go for it. And Kevin just seized on that moment. And I think I don't even know if you knew what you were doing, but he basically interrupted the entire thing. Kevin, tell us the story here. Well, I'll take it from the wedding. I think there's something important to that is that I sat next to Julia at the ceremony. And, you know, we spoke and she had this beauty and poise and very articulate. And you can see the intelligence there. And then after the ceremony, we were talking and I find out she tells me she's working on the show Jackass. And she had me at Jackass. Like, it was the perfect person for me. And at that point, I knew that it would be a lifelong relationship. So you were ready to write the term sheet? I was ready to hand over that term sheet right there. That's great. Fine. See all them delivered. How long before you got engaged? Like, how long were you actually dating? I mean, you tell this amazing story of sort of this love at first sight. How long did you sort of test it out before you're like, we should definitely get engaged? Well, we met May 24, 2003. We got engaged on April 29, 2005. And we were married June 3, 2006. Now, I've given away every old password, but think, but thank God we all use one password now. I was thinking about that. Yeah, it's never given your special dates away or that used to be the way. But now these password management applications, like one password, I just absolutely adore. That's amazing. I'm not an investor in one password, by the way. It's another company. I have a company. Hey, Crash, it's Jeff. We're going to, we're going to wait a little bit. They're an incredible company. They just raised their first round for about 12 or 15 years. It's definitely one to be on the show. All right, we're talking about you two getting engaged. Can we stop talking about startup finance? By turn sheet, I did not mean getting. Kevin, Kevin read me Pablo Nouruda on a beach and then proposed to me. I love it. So I was referring to an offer to start a company, a counter offer to current TV. Well, it's the job of a startup founder to find great, great talent, no matter where it is. And so I happened to be living with and engaged to this potential co-founder with massive potential. You just got a low offer. And who just got a low offer and I could see, I could seize and have one of these magical experiences where we're not just, we wouldn't just be married, but we would also be able to work together. It was a wonderful thing where we got to spend 24-7 together. So it seemed very magical and I captured this talent along with our third co-founder, Renaud Visage, who always gets left out because everyone wants to talk about the couple and the poor Renaud, who was the technical mastermind behind Eventbrite, just is always behind the scene. So shout out to Renaud for his amazing contribution. Still working at Eventbrite. Absolutely, just like you. Just like all of us. You took my job. I would have been still out of Eventbrite had she not taken my CEO job. But that's, she kicked me up to this chairman position where you really have no idea what I'm supposed to do as a chairman except for sound important. And it certainly does. The company proposal. Did you have the idea, you know, ticketing was something that you would talk about with PayPal team on the PayPal API. Was it Vemprating your mind as you were thinking about this or was it like, no, we're going to jump in together and we're going to figure something out just us and then we'll come to the idea. Well, the thesis always was is there's this conventional thought in the valley that PayPal was this parasite on eBay. But it turned out to be the other way around, while I wouldn't call eBay a parasite. It turned out to be that that was simply PayPal that this payment platform's first vertical. And our thesis was that PayPal would open up this API, what they called it. And there was this directive at PayPal to, you know, before it was acquired to find non eBay growth and merchants. And so bringing PayPal into money remittance was one mechanism to distribute. But also we saw this broken mess up, still messed up industry of ticketing that really needed a lot of help. So we wanted to build these verticals on top of PayPal. I was once told to, why are you building these pimples on the ass of PayPal? But that's really how all industries start. There is an API, there's a platform. And this Payment OS would power so many great businesses. And who would think that today PayPal doing three quarters of a trillion dollars in payments volume or where Stripe is? It's absolutely extraordinary. And so, you know, we were fortunate to see that thesis come true. So Juliet, in this moment where Kevin comes to you and says, well, no, that offers not only too low, but you should be betting on yourself instead of accepting little money from a job. Take little money, but all the upside for yourself. And let's do something together. Was this idea there? Or did that sort of come out in the coming weeks or months? It was there. I mean, we had talked about it. And I remember when you were, you were still actually at Zoom for a little bit before you transitioned out. And I would log into the customer support queue for what was then called Molligard. And that was essentially the prototype that you guys had built or I don't know if you'd call it that. But it was the early product. And people were using it. And they were using it largely for either free events or small ticket events. But there was a customer support queue that had been kept going and nobody was answering it. So I just went in and started investigating who these people were, what they were doing. And meanwhile, I had no idea what, what this was going to be like. This was, I was not, you know, the kid with the lemonade stand. So I didn't know sort of if I would make a great entrepreneur, but I did know that I loved to learn by doing. So I really hated sitting in a classroom, but I loved my internships. And that I could bring some Yen to Camin's Yang. You know, we found we know a couple months in. But it was just truly mom and pop. We moved in together and we found a space in Petro Hill, which was in an old warehouse building. And the landlord was a good friend, a good family friend. And he gave us a phone closet to start in. And so we put saw horses and plywood desks. And that was like two days after you came to drive with me up from LA. So it was a whirlwind. And I think I could say there are a lot of complimentary attributes and skills that we have. But then there are these really big overlaps. And one of them is we like to move quickly. So it was just like boom, boom, boom. And I remember pushing a saw horse behind Kevin thinking like, I hope he's not totally nuts. We hadn't gotten married yet. So I'm kind of like, there's a little bit of me that's going to reserve some, you know, skepticism that. But the thing that I remember about that time, there's a lot that I don't. But it's the thing that I do remember is just this overwhelming sense of optimism. And I think serial entrepreneurs are a little nuts because I think that they miss that chip in their brain. That says this might not happen or this might might not work out. And so Kevin's just insatiable appetite for taking risks and seeing the opportunities. And then how hard he works, I mean he gets more done in a day than most high performing people get done in a week. It was just like we were off to the races. And so I think it just happened really quickly. And we never look back and we never considered another idea. A funny story that I don't know if you guys now is that we were allowed to be in the building for free for a short period of time. If we told other entrepreneurs about the building, you found some pretty good ones, right? We found some great ones. You guys do know the story. You're so well, well researched. But we ended up in the span of a year collecting basically 12 other startup teams. And we were all in one space and tripped it. Trippet Flickster, truly I was in the building. Zingha started technically in the same space. Box B. Yeah, I mean just those companies alone. Trippet became part of concur and Zingha, the lesson is is when the team just receives checks. So they were getting paid with checks through the mail for installs. And so who was it just? And Andrew Trader was just opening checks all day. Yeah, so his job yet a desk full of checks and was opening them up. And whenever you see that, I've learned as an investor invest in that company. There's a rumor that Don Valentine went down to Cisco when it was just the husband and wife and maybe a few others. And he was trying to understand what this router thing is. But then he walked into the back and there was a fax machine where orders were just coming in, you know, all the time. And he asked the operator the fax machine and the person to receive the orders. Like, is this always the case? You know, the response was yes, this is I can't keep up with it. Like look at this big stack of paper. That becomes a very clear and simple investment thesis. And now there's not too many checks these days. But I think the equivalent is maybe your Stripe account or something of the like. Okay, so this is perfect. Trans it because so you start all this like you would think you guys are both hyper networked at this point. You know, Rulof is partner at Sequoia. You think you just like, oh, obviously you raised money from your network and you know, Peter and all that. But you didn't like you took a totally different path. And I think this is really interesting like in Julia, you were saying people are already using this. You already had transactions happening for two years basically. It was just you guys in Renault and you were building this with your own capital, bootstrapping, not taking salaries and just building the business. Why did you decide to do that? Well, zoom, XOM, the remittance business had been an exercise in dilution. And we had to take a lot of capital. We had an excessive amount of fraud that we had a first fight off and then develop systems and algorithms to, you know, stop that. Remittance licenses were very expensive. So it was a fairly capital intensive business. And while we were very happy with where the business has grown and in the outcome there, it was an exercise in over dilution. And in the second go around, I guess the third if you consider connect group. In this go around, we really wanted to polish the product. It was, it didn't require a lot of infrastructure. It was just the three of us. So for a long time, I mean, I think close to two years, we just wanted to get product market fit, build this business. So, you know, Julia would respond to customers and learn about them and we would talk. I would work on the product design and hand them over to Renault who would code. And he spent most of his year in Paris, actually. So we were one third remote team at the time. And he would work because of the eight hour difference. He would crank away while we slept and we'd come in in the morning. And there'd be all these new features and attributes pushed. And then we would just wash rinse and repeat. And we really feel, and I feel strongly that that's the right way to build a company. That's capital can be a good thing, but a lot of times financing really hinders companies that it gets one focus on the wrong things. It doesn't really focus you on what's most important. And that's your customer. So we spent a few years doing this. The other side was this nobody wanted to invest in us. They were thinking what is this strange business of these not large concert events, but everything under the sun that our creators, our event holders, emergency were publishing. We use event break for our all of our acquired events. It's awesome, but this is not what people are thinking about at the time. So there's ticket master. And then there's you guys talked about this. People were collecting checks at the door for everything below, you know, arena-sized venue. How quickly did you identify that gap? Like forget the arenas, but there is this whole sea of micro event entrepreneurs essentially that don't have tools. Was that the vision in the beginning? It was. I mean, our hypothesis was that there were far more people trying to sell tickets to events than anybody had ever sized. Because it was offline. And that the, you know, kind of fatty middle between, you know, the top of the pyramid being large arenas and the bottom being backyard barbecues and birthday parties. That there would be this really rich, interesting middle layer that was global. And if we could build something with a self-service ethos that could, you know, meet the basic needs of as many different types of event creators as possible. That would continue to grow volume and scale and give us optionality in the future. And so we just focused on building a great product. But I think from a customer standpoint, for the first year or so, our earliest adopters were tech bloggers and people in that community who are hosting in-person events with their readers. So we were the ticketing platform for the first tech crunch disrupt. And literally we printed out a guest list and showed up and checked people in at the door, have the pictures to prove it. And then I remember about a year in, we started to see speed dating on the east coast pop up. And in particular, there was a customer who ran an event called red carpet speed dating. And that started to flourish. And so we started to see the maps light up. And you weren't like marketing in New York at this point in time. This was just organic adoption. Yes. Yes. Yeah. I mean, it was, it was just word of mouth. It was people buying tickets to other events. It was SEO. So very early on, we figured out that every event listing would be user generated content. And so we could help all of those pages get highly indexed. And, you know, it was all these sort of organic means. And when that started happening, it felt like, okay, maybe there's there there because tech bloggers and speed dating. Those are two really different categories. No jokes. But they are different categories. And I think that we thought, wow, maybe there's, there's something there. And then because we were integrated with PayPal, we started seeing overseas transactions and events being published. And it was just all, it all sort of grew together. It took us a while to convince people that the market was big. Like that was probably one of our biggest challenges when we, when we eventually did go out to raise money. So yeah, what, what scale did you guys built the business to over those two years before you, before you raised money? It was tens of millions of what we called GTS gross ticket sales. And in a age of today, like if you had a few hundred thousand in GMV, you're raising your raising, yeah, your way off to the races. And we were saying, like, look at this. Like, look at this usage. It's incredible. And again, this organic nature, it was when you have three people, by the way, I'll go back to your early question. This two years of just soul development, you try to make everything so efficient and effectively build a perpetual motion machine. Meaning, you know, you, you have this almost deist theory of company building where you can create something just as this religious theory says that God created the universe and put all these laws of physics and motion. And now it just operates. We wanted to build a platform that did that. We wanted to put something in motion. And we would have creators, our merchants find the business, publish on on eventbrides sell tickets, hold their events. And the attendees would learn about eventbride and some of them would convert to creators or merchants. And you'd wash rinse repeat again. And so you saw this snowball effect happening. And then we just experiment on it. We found all these experiments of these new things called Facebook and Twitter and how they could actually amplify our platform. And we would just kind of ride each wave. And that was the real magic of what we were doing. And it was Sequoia Capital and rule off again identifying that we were really seeing that lift. And we received our series a term sheet at the end of 2009. So that to me sounds like a whole year between when you said, hey, our two years of bootstrapping are behind us. We want to raise money. And then when you actually did raise money, my off there, did that take a really long time. We weren't fundraising the entire year, but we did go out towards the end of 2008. It was the fall of 2008. And I don't know if you two young chaps are old enough. That was a tough time for the economy. This guy was falling. We met with 27 venture firms and we received 27 knows we did raise the seed fund. If you remember, we began an earnest in 2006. And so a big portion of the seed fund was our own money. So we rolled some of those paypal proceeds. And so so we raised a couple hundred thousand in a seed in a friends and family round Jeff Klavier was an early supporter of the purchase. Michael and Sochi Birch were husband and wife team that we admired so much that had a phenomenal outcome selling a business to a well. And we went on our kind of merry way of building and then you saw the 2008 2009 economic collapse, the housing bubble burst. And we were thinking, we're going to really be in trouble here, but what you see in these massive dislocations is that there's this movement online that the world figures out that it's far more efficient to use a service like a vent right and a traditional manner of doing that. And we see that today, it's a very important lesson is we see this dislocation that's happened due to COVID and you see the future come faster, whether it's zoom conferencing, whether it's food in grocery delivery with Instacart door dash. This is an extraordinary phenomenon and it's also an opportunity for new players to out hustle even more so the incumbents, we saw a lot of flipping happen of leadership where old media still had a strong foothold or real estate practices the past have a strong foothold and then a lot of these marketplaces became much more prominent and gained market leadership or truly which we had the opportunity to to write the first check into. So we have this section of the show called the playbook and rather than waiting for it later, I want to pull forward a bullet point here and I think it really gets to why the perception of event right was that you didn't have a large market by VCs at first because Julia, as you said, it was a shadow market, it was largely offline transactions. So it's a good way to see that there was a large opportunity here, but the internet creates the opportunity for niches to individually be large and so this whole long tail of creators that otherwise didn't have tooling and where thus collecting checks at the door or not having an events because it was too high of a friction thing. So basically unlocked new value for that massive long tail of I think you have something close to a million creators in 2019 using event bright and I think that if you would have told me in 2008 that you know a decade from now there will be one million appreciating events using just this one company's tool set. It frankly seems ludicrous now it seems obvious, but then you could you could totally see how you'd have to be Julian Kevin Hartz the crazy people who think this is actually going to happen for that to believe it. Well, this is why we wanted to be on the acquired podcast and now we because you understand you actually do your homework and you have a sophisticated understanding of the intricacies of this you're like the strategy of podcast. We also are going to try to recruit you to during this show you know given that. Well, thank you just briefly on Tam so with zoom the remittance business it was very simple to calculate Tam every central bank in every country recorded remittances coming in so we could go to Sequoia and just say this is a massive market and we'll take a couple of a percentage of that and look we have a multi billion dollar business opportunity as our total addressable market but that was so hard that was very hard for Airbnb in the early days that how large is this creationist market that bend described here. We struggled with trying to go through Tam at some point when we did have some money we would try to find consultants to help us and it just was impossible to try to peg down every one of these categories in this creationist notion. It's somewhat of a fruitless exercise and I don't know if that's going to be too. No, no. So, but I think like for something that is is like them right we have a platform that enables an activity that is the human experience. I still to this day I think it's just it's not helpful. I mean there is some data that we can use to understand in which geo are certain categories. A big opportunity but there's nothing that comes close to the data that we have from what's going on and in a given moment on the platform and that's not going to be picked up in a study that's that's ours. It's a it gives us such a clear indication of where we should focus our efforts whether it's building product or go to market. I think Kevin's thesis was that you really focus on making it friction free and you give the tools that the people need to be successful and then you know the product that they love and then you give them service that makes them feel loved and then you keep building that and today we're sitting on a lot of interesting data that's actionable not just not just for us as a business but actually for our customers. You know we can turn that data around give them content and actionable insights on how they can grow their businesses. And I think one of the misdemeanor is about event right is that it's for you know informal gatherings these are small businesses and professionals we're not used for our soup events like backyard barbecues that's actually a bad product for that. It's really for professional ticket events but I think that it's interesting because when we were out fundraising that first time there was this persistent question just like you maybe never would have thought that bringing craft fairs online would be a big business. Our story is somewhat similar to an Etsy as well where you see this extraordinary long tail emerge and come to the platform and then all of a sudden you start creating market because you're bringing people from the offline to the online and you're also helping people become more successful and build their businesses on the platform. I think that an inherent driver of our business has been that need for humans to gather and that has been more powerful than ever. A second component has been that as traditional media like magazines there are all these hobbyist magazines in different areas as that declined the life experience grew. So magazines that were from train collectors to home and garden their revenue their income started to growing in offline events and they really leaned into that. That was this kind of crossing of moving from the print and media world to the offline and gathering world that became so visceral and powerful then you had social media which became about your experience not the things that you owned. So just as your feed is more representative of you you want to do interesting things and being interesting places and you can influence others that's what event bright was all about and those beautiful exciting experiences and the thing you were doing became this broadcast mechanism to display what you were about and who you are whether it's a triathlon or whether it's attending a craft beer festival. Well listeners as you know normally in the acquired format we would take you blow by blow all the way up through sort of how the company became what it became today but since we have Julia and Kevin here there's a few key moments that we want to sort of fast forward to and talk through with them. So we've talked through this sort of 2008 2009 time frame where they mostly bootstrapped it once they started raising money frankly they raised a lot of money so Sequoia came in did that series C then they raised 20 million and 50 then 60 then 60 then 130 I mean we we got this company became very well capitalized it was growing very quickly it was a part of this stay private longer ethos that was really dominating the 2014 to 2019 stretch of of technology. And I want to talk about two things with with you Julia and Kevin one why stay private longer and and had did you think about IPO sooner and then the second thing is a question for you Julia where you formally became the CEO I think in early 2018 kick Kevin to the curb and said look you know I've been operating this company you know with you and now it's time to time to be the CEO and Kevin you you win and spend some time at founders fund. And obviously now starting a spec that will we'll talk about here shortly but Julia I want to hear about the road show process I want to I want to kind of dive into what it was like to take a company public. Well the only thing that I would just attempt to correct which I'm a bit fearful to do because again I think you've done such great work is we weren't opposed to going public I think yes we we stayed private. Pretty long but I think that we always had an idea of event right being a public company I think the being in the public markets shed light on your business light is a great antiseptic and a great way to be a mean and thoughtful and high and a great way to make sure that you are a good company and so it was all part of the plan frankly and you know sort of one thing led to another we acquired a big company I think that the timing was really about what we had set for ourselves as this is the threshold of revenue this is the threshold of profitability this is what we want to see in the business and then and then we'll consider going public and we did and we decided in January of 2018 that we would be going into high gear on IPO process. And it took roughly nine months which I always like to joke I could make a human in nine months and it was a long process most of the work you do to get ready for an IPO you do it well before you actually are in the IPO process. But the IPO process itself is this sort of cookie cutter you have a plan there's a gantt chart and you go through the steps and there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen and I enjoyed it because I figured that if we were going to dedicate to the year that if we were going to dedicate nine months and you know countless hours and hour hours our money that time cost something that we would get the most out of it because the opportunity lost in focusing on this I wanted the focus to actually yield something that was greater than that opportunity that we lost so we focused on two things one was making sure that our our public debut was rooted in the creators our customers and their stories that we put them front and center and that we actually used them to get investors really on board and understanding our business and that worked really well I mean it was a risk because I would go into these meetings and I'd start telling stories and I'm like oh my god somebody's going to tell me to stop and walk out and it worked it was like a light switch would go on and you could see it in the person say oh you're not live nation take a master you're not like the next you know this or the next that so that worked really well and the second thing was that I wanted it to be a process that would just inherently make us better at operating and so you know we really leaned on that process to help clean up some of the stuff that had been accumulating there's barnacles after you know 10 years and and I wanted it to be something that you know we felt like was really additive to the company and to who we were as a business and so we landed on September and all along so one thing that I think maybe you guys don't know about me is that when I make a plan that's the plan so I decided that since Kevin's birthday is on September 18th and real day is on September 19th that obviously we'd be going public that week and you know like when you do a remodel and you tell the team I have a really big event coming up and so you got to get it done for that this was like that emotional push that everybody needed because it was not obvious this was you know in order to land our date we had to get on the road show right after Labor Day and pass over and through two high holidays it was a rare year with a high holidays were falling right in the center of our road show and then we have a ton of competition in September 2018 a lot of companies were going public so actually you guys were at the forefront I mean Uber wasn't public yet lift wasn't public yet the floodgates were just opening of all these companies like you guys that had been in the private market so long were just about to flip over that's right and actually our opening bell day got stolen from us so this is a part of the story that not many people know I won't mention that the company but if you do your home or kill now what was the date the September 17th or 18th we ended up going public on the 20 I thought it was the 19th which was no spurt day no we ended up going public on the 20th and it was the market high day we ended up going on a great day at any rate we will we stuck the landing but the road show itself was insane so George Lee from Goldman Sachs was one of the lead bankers and he said that in 25 years he had never seen this many travel in this apps happened to one company during the road show I mean when we took off for our first day we flew across the country there was a hurricane on the east coast the pilot tells us he needs to land the plane and I innocently ask well are we close to New York and I realize we are in Williamsport Pennsylvania which is the home of the little league Hall of Fame actually the birthplace of our CFO which was so insane I mean it's sort of non-tulantly mentioned it when we're landing and I'm thinking well we're going to have to call your mom because we have to spend the night here but then we realized we had to start at 6 a.m. to train the sales force and get going and it was a Friday so we didn't so this is trading the banker sales force to go and advocate on your behalf to the right really important meetings so going to each bank we worked with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan and we were supported by Allen and company but we went to Goldman and JP to get their sales force trained up and then we had our first day of full meetings in New York and we couldn't sacrifice that day because it was a Friday and if we missed that day we'd blow our entire schedule so we end up landing and it's like dark clouds of rain and crazy and I'm still you know from California I'm still thinking well it just must be a hopskip in a jump like we must be over the hill from New York or something well anyways a long story short they bring around a minivan and George Lee drives us through the polka nose 4.5 hours to New York City and along the way we stop at friendlies which is place I've never been to because I'm from California and I grew up on friendlies I had my first and only fribble yes and we made a music video which is in the vault and well I see I keep hearing all these trials and difficult challenges the roadshow is having and then I'm getting these lipped up videos back with bankers on the hood of the car dancing and I'm saying like what is going on is this really a roadshow I like to make lemonade on the roadshow yeah well I like I like a good adventure you know and so we ended up making it but we pulled in like midnight drove in New York blasting Billy Joel you know and just New York state of mind just getting I mean just in it it was epic but then so many things like that happened that when I think about doing the roadshow now on zoom we really missed the timing on that because watching Kevin do his IPO the other day like oh my gosh so much money saved so much brain damage saved but you know you didn't get to make a music video and the polka nose and we didn't get a donut wall on the New York stock exchange floor which was provided and became the most memorable thing that are two daughters only remember is that there is a donut wall they didn't care about this thing going public they just wanted a donut wall well they may do a donut wall they did make me a donut wall for this fact IPO just to make sure I understand Kevin you weren't there for the roadshow presentations for event bright Julia that was just you leading it as just Kevin he ended up meeting up with us the day before pricing which was his birthday so we all arrive in New York we meet up with Kevin we're all exhausted we celebrate his birthday that was really fun and then but we're tired so it was just dinner a roadshow is really the CEO and the CFO I'm again just the chairman I don't know what I do I'm just like along for the ride and I get to watch this incredible team do these incredible things so I was there along for the leg in DC but toured around or met with some people I knew in DC while you did in Baltimore where you did all the hard work. Oh right I remember that so then we ring the bell and it was I think about it differently now but back then I had an idea that this was not an ending it was beginning you know it's the starting line and to be working on something for 12 years and have this be the starting line was pretty overwhelming but that day was so special because we had all of our family there so there were 18 family members from our nuclear family it felt like our wedding we were all downtown together and we had our executive team our first 10 employees and a handful of customers who had participating in the roadshow in the video and the marketing materials and I remember two things vividly one was the president of the New York Stock Exchange Stacy Cunningham said that they had looked through the archives and had not yet found a picture of that many women executives on the podium that was just our executive team we weren't like filling the rafters with women and then the second thing was that Pete from Citadel our market maker opener he said he'd never seen that many children on the on the floor and it was just it wasn't even like we told everybody to bring their kids it was just people brought their families it was such a special day and there's kids running everywhere of course I felt a bittersweet moment because I was I think the second female founder to have gone public in a really long time and the second youngest something that made me feel honored but also a little sad this is something I wanted to ask you about the roadshow is a process where bankers are evaluating someone's decade of hard work in a split second decision so lots of heuristics are being used people are looking at the same set of financials that they're very used to looking at they're getting often caught up in the hype and they're usually used to seeing male CEOs of these high growth especially founder CEOs of these high growth companies what was that like being one of the few women who led that process well they largely kept their cool but we didn't see we actually didn't see one woman on the on the roadshow we saw one actually sorry we saw one and I'm dear friends with her so that's Ann Marie from capitol so I think she was a friendly but she doesn't typically cover companies of our size so there were zero women and that wasn't a surprise to me I get because we had done the testing the waters and you know I we knew a lot of investors we had long term relationships things to Allen and company and you know so it it wasn't a surprise but I do think that when I reflect on it I'm very fortunate to have allies around me you know it's it's it's I think working with Kevin has helped me understand that there's even just the smallest sort of active support from men and power to women can just like be the fuel that they need to run through any wall or and so I just I felt that I felt like I had you know people like George Lee and Noah Winthrop and Ian Smith and Harry Wagner around me and these are like these are like my tribe rule off and it was just it was just and so it's not foreign for me to be the only woman but yes we did not see none of my gender on that trip so benches to make a clarification when you're on a roadshow it's actually not bankers you're meeting with you're meeting with portfolio managers of long only funds each portfolio manager manages a big pool of capital it's kind of like adventure fund inside the venture fund and there's a lead portfolio manager that makes a decision that yes or no decision to put in order and so just to just clarify there and then two things just to add is that at the time really it was clear to me that the student had become the master and that it was time for Julia to take my place and thank God there's now a great CEO in the seat the second thing I'll also point out is that during the periods that we had raised the most money privately with the hardest and most difficult periods for me because we were really fighting this gravity of over spending and creating inefficiency and it took us away from our roots as a capital efficient highly effective perpetual motion machine and that's really what's driven our desire and drove our desire and drove our ethos to be out in the public market sooner and really learn great practices of capital allocation but that begins at the earliest stage as a founder is you might have a big balance sheet but you've got to discipline yourself to put that money to work in the right way of finding great people not over hiring not making giving everyone the chance to be a manager and these are these are the real reasons why the ills of private capital have been so difficult with the soft banks and others it sounds like you're preaching you know the outsiders gaspull the great book about capital allocation and and CEOs and management but as we were preparing for this it seems like you know obviously a lot has happened in the world into you guys since your IPO you know recording here in August 2020 in COVID times founders were afraid to go public before because that mantra was like public markets are so short term focused you know it's the private markets that are long term they're going to stick with you but like you guys have found some amazingly supportive shareholders and new investors as a public company through you know the crisis and tragedy that is covid that is obviously hugely impacted in February you raised 225 million dollars as a public company how have you found this whole experience and I just want to throw out sort of some numbers out there so listeners get a shape of the impact here because I think it's worth having sort of a third party throw that out so event bright was doing something like 80 million bucks a quarter in I think net revenue for several quarters leading up until obviously Q2 which of course then drops precipitously it's in person primarily in person event business or around half of which the revenue comes from these sort of like self organized mid-size self serve events and so you see that 80 million number dropped to like 8 million in that quarter so like imagine your business taking this 90% haircut and then like Julie I think turning it back to you this question of like so what do you do and how do you figure out how to build the war chest and play offense from there what happened on really early March I would even pointed to March 5th was one of the most extraordinary impacts on a business I had ever seen in my whole career there was just nothing like the onset of covid and it came fast and quickly to a live entertainment and ticketing business that also served small businesses so it was this double-witching this incredible tidal wave of damage to the business to this triad of our company and it's in our hardworking team members our attendees and our creators as well as the investors in the business so it really was we had almost been in a position that the sun was shining when you look back at everything else compared to what happened in March we had a phenomenal January in February it was record the business was humming along and then March came and our over 4.5 billion in gross ticket sales that we achieved last in 2019 last year when actually in March to zero and actually negative where you had more refunds than you did ticket sales and that's unprecedented you just don't see a business come to a grinding halt and even step back and what Julia and her team did during that period was nothing short of it just extraordinary it was it's still the greatest comeback story I've seen in the making I joke that Ben Horowitz is experience in the hard things about the hard things isn't hold a candle to Julia in her team story I shouldn't say that because I won't get invited to a summer barbecue anymore I'm sorry Ben but I will just let maybe Julia talk about what it was like in the trenches during that 90 days and how she short up the balance see how to go through some very extremely painful decisions in really capitalized balance sheet so this business can endure for the long term I'll save you on the bend thing I actually went back and read some of the parts that I had that book the hard things about hard things and I think two things resonate with me now more than ever and one is embrace the struggle and not try to avoid the really difficult things and get right to the hardest thing and two is see the silver lining in the worst case scenario you go through different scenario planning exercises as a public company you have to like do these tabletop exercises and I remember thinking in the second week of March tabletop my ass like this is there is no table top exercise that could actually prepare us for this and it was the biggest crisis in the worst case scenario that you could ever imagine because the basis of our business that we had for all intense and purposes felt was just inherent to human experience was going away and we were the tip of the spear and so we were the first affected we obviously weren't the only affected but being in that sort of front pack there were benefits to to being in that front pack because we were you know moving quickly and immediately not only taking care of our people so so first I had to focus on the people because we needed to get everybody prepared to work from home part of that was a conversation I had with with Eric at zoom who said that despite what they build they were a work from office culture and he was moving everybody to work from home so that they could get a lot more efficient as they were going to be you know taking on these massive challenges Julia I'm curious how do you think about the things that were unique to event bright about this and the path going forward well I think when you have such a massive business disruption there are a few key things that you have to get right in order to make it through that I the storm and we were going to be in the sort of fog of what felt like war because our revenue went from 100% to 0% in a matter of two weeks and we were we you know huddled together immediately created a strategy that would lead us through to where we needed to be as a company not a strategy of how are we going to get through this crisis as much as what would we do if we could do it all over again and asking ourselves that question allowed us to narrow our focus because we knew we had to we couldn't be doing everything we were we were doing pre-COVID in the middle of this crisis and still make it through so we immediately made a cut that was that was deep and it was painful and it was a cut that we may not just just for cost cutting sake but actually to prepare the company to narrow its focus and for us this strategy was very clear we have an incredibly vibrant self sign on channel that grows faster and has a stronger gross margin than our sales channel we have a self service platform that really doesn't need someone to be you know providing high-touch human service so we did we think a bit about how we would how are good market work but that was in our biggest our biggest problem our biggest problem was how we were going to get through to the other side sales channel just to clarify the make sure I understand that's like when you go and you sign a big customer like a multi thousand person music festival and you enter a more complex sort of financial arrangement and you change the cash flow dynamics and they're assigned a head count and you work out a special deal for refunds like each one of those is like a unique special child more so then just hey Ben and David are hosting and acquired me that's right so we saw the first day of impact of covid in early March and in early April we downsize the company by 45% and we effectively removed over a hundred million dollars from our operating expenses on May 11th we announced our earnings along with our financing and on June 12th we raised the second part of our financing through public market convert which was a part of the original plan and just moving at that fast pace allowed us to be stronger in this moment and you know I can't help but look at all the opportunities that have have emerged from this time because now we're a smaller team we're focused on doing less we're able to pivot our attention to helping small businesses survive this moment then we we really focused on what could our product do to help our creator survive this time and you know online events is something that we've served since the beginning of time you don't have to have an in person event to use event break we're really the front door on the platform the operating system for any type of event so immediately we started to see creators and especially the ones that internally we call super creators who are frequent creators their small businesses their entrepreneurs they started to pivot their events online we saw zoom become a highly searched term on the site so that's when I reached out directly to them and a few weeks ago we announced our integration with zoom in a native app there were these moments and these opportunities that continue to play out as we help our customers not only now survive but then thrive into this new world because things aren't going to be the same in the future and we it's our job to really prepare them for any scenario and to help rebuild the live experience economy being a public company through all that have you been in any way held back by that accelerated would it have been different if you were still private I think it would have been harder for your private I think that being a public company and having you know consistency of reporting and having some really dedicated long term shareholders as well as new interested investors it gave us the opportunity to really play offense as you say and you know we ended up raising 375 million in total so we now are on the other side of this with a clear direction a small vibrant mighty team a smaller rather not small but smaller focus team and we are doing everything in our power to help our customers during this time and it's really core to who we are it's building a stronger platform it's creating a superior product experience it's helping them reach broader audiences through their online events it's you know thinking about how we are going to be a better company going forward I mean there's really it's sort of like a near death experience and a new lease on life and you know we we needed the financial security to be able to to get through this point but I think that that as a you know public company we were able to access the public markets for part of our financing that was possible because we were a public company now on to grading well as as you both know the way that we we finish these episodes is with a grade Dave and I have gone back and forth and like how on earth will we do that for this episode so what I want to do with both of you is what's the scenario or five years from now we look back and say A plus between product and strategy decisions like what could be the A plus outcome from this the A plus outcome is the silver lining of being able to dramatically focus the business on the core of the business and so oftentimes in expansive growth companies you're placing a lot of investment bets and a lot of different areas and sometimes getting ahead of yourself so the A plus scenario would be really focusing back to the core that that really grew event bright made it great in moving the world even faster towards the self service ethos and building a better product about that that right now music venues have been by far the hardest hit if you look at some of the ticketing competitors in in those spaces they're accustomed to very manual and horrible platforms that require a lot of people human software of sorts and now to be able to make it so simple for a venue that doesn't have the balance sheet and resources to be able to do this in an automated way into accept this just as you know companies accepted sales force or HubSpot or these other platforms this really paves the way to the future it also retires the incumbents in the same way that you saw just the inefficient businesses disappear during you know the 2000 crisis the dot com bus during the housing crisis where it's actually an opportunity to gain market share and come out a real leader with a much sharper focus that's the A plus scenario yeah Julia what do you think i think that the A plus scenario is you know looking back at this time and having it be this this incredible moment of you know rocket ship journey where event bright is even more ubiquitous in live experiences than we are today and you know extraordinarily valuable on our our product thesis and on our you know company ethos I be remiss to not say that the people who helped event bright through this period of time on our team are heroes and you know yes Kevin and I are founders and we were in the trenches and working together and that was really special and the people who have you know worked tirelessly beside us make event bright a great company so I think when I think of A plus I think of great business growth clear market leadership sky's the limit on valuation and a team that is the best in the business and a company that I really feel proud of helping to be a part of helping to shape on the L. P. show we had nica connaissance from talk on the story and opportunity is so similar between your two companies you know this this awful thing happened took your businesses to zero but there's this opportunity to save your customers even better set up for the future and take take huge share from the incumbents and I I've never felt more fired up to be honest I'm it's it's like day one and you know it's it's so exciting and I leap out of that in the morning because it's not now about you know are are we going to make it through this it's about how do you take advantage of every single day and how what are you going to do with this opportunity and so that's just that to me feels like I'm back in 2012 again it's it's really energizing well that's a great great place to leave it Julia and Kevin where can listeners get in touch and what is the best way for anyone of acquired listeners to help event bright right now I can be reached at Julia at event bright dot com in Kevin at event bright dot com I'm I'm a terrible sales person so I'm not going to pitch event bright I think it's hosting an online event being back out there when our events are back and together being a patron of the arts and local community and getting back out and gathering again we see this much like the analogy that we see over in history of the 1918 pandemic when following that horrible time period where millions of people lost their lives people were back out and forced and you have the 20s and this almost heeding this period but you had also this jazz and the arts and all emerged in this period that people wanted to be back together and gather as innate being a human couldn't say any better well listeners that is it for this episode if you aren't subscribed and you like what you hear you should and remember from the top of the show are one call the video and this episode share your favorite episode with a friend coworker or on social media and now as we wind down this event bright episode we will be keeping the party going with Kevin to dive into his latest venture a back that he I believe has IPO by the time we release this and is personally sponsoring to take some unicorn or unicorn like company public here in the in the very near future so if you aren't already a limited partner you can click the link in the show notes or go to acquired dot fm slash LP and all new listeners get a seven day free trial subscribing gets you access to the L. P. show where we dive deeper into the fundamentals of company building and investing in addition to our monthly LP calls where we talk with folks directly on zoom answer Q&A and of course our book club and L. P.s. will see you to talk specs with Kevin on the other side.