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Viagogo Crossing the Pond: StubHub co–founder to bring competing venture to U.S.

Most people are familiar with the cliché: if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. What happens, though, if it at first you did succeed? viagogo Does practice make perfect?  Do you still try again?

Eric Baker seems to think so.   In 2004, Mr. Baker walked away from then rapidly growing secondary ticket marketplace StubHub (of which he was co-founder).  Seeking opportunity and adventure, he packed his bags and,  in 2005, moved across the Atlantic and in London, started Viagogo, a similar ticket reseller aimed at capturing the European marketplace.

StubHub sold to eBay last January for  about $310m, making Eric, who reportedly held 10 percent of the company, a sizable windfall.  That, however, didn’t slow him down or stifle his ambitions.   With $20m in investors money, and reliance on UK laws that allow single resellers to get exclusive re-sale distribution rights, he built Viagogo into a serious company. 

Now, according to Venture Beat, the London based company has raised a substantial $30m in capital from a second round led by Index Ventures.   With the money, they’re going to bring Viagogo back across the pond .  Baker, and team, have their old friend StubHub in their cross–hairs.

In the U.S., Viagogo will compete for a share in the lucrative ticket after-market against eBay’s Stubhub,  Razorgator, Ticketsnow and IAC’s Ticketmaster.   The competition will be intense (in a show of how much so, Ticketmaster sued Stubhub in April).

As has been the case in Europe, distribution partnerships will likely be a significant part of Viagogo’s strategy. In Europe, the company has partnerships (some exclusive) with several leading soccer (football) clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.  They also have a deal with Warner Music International.

In the U.S. exclusivity will be impossible but that won’t stop Viagogo from trying to become a “preferred partner” with event organizers and sporting leagues.  They already have such a partnership in place with the Cleveland Browns.

StubHub is also pursuing a similar partnership oriented approach to growth.  Last week they signed a five year deal to be the “official source” of secondary tickets for  Major League Baseball.

In addition to Index Ventures, others investors in the financing included LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault and a number of similarly high profile individual investors.  The financing will bring the combined total investment in the company to around $50m.

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