May 23, 2019
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Mobile ticketing company TodayTix raises $73M in new funding

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TodayTix, a mobile ticketing company that makes it easy and relatively affordable to go to Broadway shows and other live performances, is announcing a new $73 million round of funding led by private equity firm Great Hill Partners.

The company was founded in 2013, and it served initially as the mobile equivalent of New York’s TKTS booths for discounted, last-minute theater tickets. TodayTix says it’s now sold more than 4 million tickets, representing 8 percent of annual Broadway ticket sales and 4 percent for London’s West End.

Beyond that, co-founder and CEO Brian Fenty said that a little over 10 percent of the tickets sold now fall outside “theater and performing arts, narrowly defined,” covering things like comedy shows and experiential theater.

“I think to the consumer, we will be a holistic ecosystem to engage in the city’s art and experiences,” Fenty predicted. “However culture is defined … we want to be their partner in discovering those things.”

To do that, TodayTix will add more cities to its current list of 15 markets. Fenty said this expansion is driven by existing partnerships (like launching in Australia through its partnership with “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) and by seeing where people are already downloading the TodayTix app. His ultimate goal is to be “geographically agnostic.”

Fenty also said the company will continue investing in the TodayTix Presents program, through which the company puts on its puts on its own shows (albeit at a much smaller scale than a Broadway production).

And of course he wants to improve the app itself, introducing more personalization and curation — Fenty pointed to Netflix and Amazon as models. After all, he said TodayTix is currently offering tickets to 297 shows in New York alone, so it needs to ways to “effectively guide people through that.”

“We’re actually a media company, with our own content and perspective — not on the quality of the shows, but to have a point of view on how users should and could engage with this content,” he said.

He added that those improvements will include more basic things, like the process of purchasing a ticket: “The hardest part is to complete the purchase in 30 seconds or less, as compared to the average ticketing platform, which is somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes … How we continue to squish that conversion?”

Fenty is also hoping to work more closely with show producers, providing them with data about which shows are selling, as well as helping them use data to find the most effective ways to promote themselves.

TodayTix says it’s raised a total of $90 million since it announced its Series B back in February 2016. Fenty told me the new round includes a direct investment in the company, as well as secondary purchases of TodayTix shares from previous investors.

“TodayTix is rapidly changing the way millennials and other consumers connect with live cultural experiences,” said Great Hill Managing Partner Michael Kumin in a statement. “We look forward to working with Brian, [co-founder] Merritt [Baer] and their talented management team to expand the Company’s product and service offerings and accelerate its push into new geographies.”

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Co-founder Brian Fenty becomes CEO at TodayTix

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There’s a new CEO at TodayTix, though he’s definitely not new to the company — Chairman Brian Fenty is becoming chief executive, while his co-founder (and the previous CEO) Merritt Baer is becoming the Head of Europe.

TodayTix sells theater tickets in cities across the United States (including New York, Chicago and San Francisco), but its European presence is currently limited to London. Fenty said there’s “a huge opportunity to go to some of the arts capitals of Europe — Paris, Hamburg, Vienna.”

“Who better to lead that charge than my partner in crime?” he added. “This is just the beginning of our European chapter.”

Fenty also characterized the leadership change as an extension of his existing partnership with Baer, who he said has an “aggressive operational tenacity.”

That operational focus was necessary to get TodayTix off the ground, and it’s now needed for the European expansion. Meanwhile, Fenty said that as chairman, he spent more time on strategy and partnerships, and those will continue to be his focus as CEO.

TodayTix has also been evolving as a business. Fenty said that while it was easy to describe the service as a mobile version of New York’s TKTS booths, giving users access to last-minute, discounted theater tickets, it’s actually expanded beyond that. Now it sells tickets up to 30 days in advance, with half of them sold at full price. (Fenty said that whether a ticket is sold at a discount or at full price, TodayTix is selling the most affordable tickets available: “We will never be beat on price.”)

In addition, TodayTix is no longer purely focused on theater. As Fenty put it, “We’re still trying to connect global culture lovers to theater, but our definition of theater has expanded to include comedy, dance, philharmonic music, improv. That’s come from our learnings launching in cities like Chicago, where if you don’t have Second City, or in LA, if you don’t have the Hollywood Bowl, you’re not a culture app.”

Fenty said TodayTix has now has 3.6 million users who have used the app to purchase $150 million in tickets. Looking ahead, he said the team is thinking about what else it can offer users either before or after going to the theater.

TodayTix has made some other executive hires recently, including bringing on Jerrell Jimerson, formerly SVP of Digital at iHeartRadio and PayPal, as its first chief product officer, and Craig Coffman, previously CTO of Reserve, as its first CTO.

Featured Image: TodayTix

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