Eventbrite Lays Off 45% Of Staff To Help Company Weather Impact Of COVID-19

– Eventbrite
Co-Founders Kevin and Julia Hartz

Eventbrite announced Wednesday that it had laid off 45% of its global workforce, an estimated 450 to 500 people, as the global ticketing and experience technology platform combats the effects of COVID-19 on the live business.  
CEO Julia Hartz broke the news about the cuts during a company-wide video call, according to Protocol, which noted that employees speaking on condition of anonymity said the layoffs included 90% of the sales team, along with cuts to the field operations team and customer success teams. A source told Pollstar the layoffs decimate the company’s music operations, backing up a report from Billboard that said most of the layoffs came from the division. 
In addition to its headquarters in San Francisco, Eventbrite has offices in Nashville, Tenn.; Godoy Cruz, Argentina; Melbourne, Australia; Antwerp, Belgium; and  São Paulo, Brazil. 
The publicly traded company posted a press release about the layoffs that referred to the staff reductions as part of a “$100 million annualized expense reduction plan” that will help Eventbrite “weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The plan also includes cash compensation reductions for Hartz and executive staff. 
“As a company whose mission is to bring the world together through live experiences, Eventbrite has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, alongside the entire live events industry,” an Eventbrite spokesperson said in a statement. 
“To ensure the long-term durability of our mission, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our global workforce by 45 percent. This is a harsh reality to face and we are saddened to see many of our team members depart the company. We are committed to taking care of impacted employees during this already difficult time and in addition to severance, we are providing extended health benefits and dedicated job replacement support. 
“This is a challenging time for communities all over the world and while we can’t predict when the pandemic will pass, we are committed to providing a strong platform to help creators rebuild their businesses and enable the return of live events when it’s once again safe to gather.”
Investors responded positively to the news of the layoffs Wednesday, as Eventbrite’s share price rose more than 10% to $7.36 during the day’s trading, although the stock is still down 64% over the last two months, from a high of more than $22 per share on Feb. 18. Like many companies in the live business, stocks have taken a huge hit during this time frame because of the impact of COVID-19 spreading on a global basis and subsequently putting a halt to concerts and public gatherings. 
Eventbrite estimates it will spend $7-$10 million in severance costs related to the layoffs, with an additional $3-$4 million in charges related to facilities and fixed assets for a total of $10-$14 million on a pre-tax basis. The company promises to provide additional details on its plans when it reports first quarter results. On March 16 Eventbrite withdrew its Business Outlook for the first quarter and full year of 2020 “as a result of the growing impact of the pandemic.” 
The company’s fourth quarter and full year 2019 financial reports announced Feb. 27 saw net revenue increased 9% to $82.7 million for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, “driven by strong growth in the Self Sign-On channel.” Eventbrite had a net loss of $13.9 million, compared to $13.0 million the prior year, with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $2.2 million in the fourth quarter. 

Eventbrite in recent years had faced hiccups, with its recently acquired Ticketfly platform being hacked publicly and maliciously in 2018, leading to some delay in moving all Ticketfly clients to the Eventbrite platform. 

Eventbrite was founded in 2006 by entrepreneurs Kevin and Julia Hartz along with Renaud Visage, the chief technical officer. Rather than focusing on bigger clients like arenas and amphitheatres, the company built its business model on serving a wide variety of event creators, including providing tickets for general admission events that may not have been ticketed before such as yoga meetups and fundraisers (with no fees charged for free events).
The company went public in September 2018 and launched Eventbrite Music in Australia and North America the following month. The platform combined the functionality of the Eventbrite, Ticketfly and ticketscript platforms, and was designed for independent live venues, promoters and festivals.
Eventbrite acquired Ticketfly from Pandora in 2017 for $201 million and the platform was sunset in 2019 after integrating into Eventbrite Music.
Ticketfly founder Andrew Dreskin left his role as president of music at Eventbrite in June 2019, transitioning into a multi-year advisory role with the company.