The viagogo Story
Live sport and entertainment events have always been one of the most popular ways for people to spend their leisure time. Whether it’s a Manchester United game at Old Trafford, Led Zeppelin’s first concert in 25 years or the latest Broadway musical, there’s nothing quite like being able to say ‘I was there!’
But the options for fans wanting to see these live events have not always been straightforward. With an increasing number of corporate and season tickets, coupled with a high demand for the biggest events, there were often only two options for the regular fan: miss out or take their chances with a tout. Dealing with touts was, and is, fraught with danger. Meeting a shady character outside the venue is never going to be a pleasant experience and the chances of being ripped off and receiving a counterfeit ticket are high.
Where it all began
In the spring of 1999, Eric Baker wanted to surprise his girlfriend by taking her to see the new Broadway hit show, The Lion King. Unfortunately, the show was sold out, so Eric soon found himself dealing with ticket touts. Eric finally secured two tickets, but it was a painful process and he had to pay an astronomical price for the seats.
Frustrated, Eric investigated ways to allow fans to buy and sell tickets directly on the Internet, avoiding the pain of dealing with touts. Convinced that there was a real need, Eric partnered with a classmate at Stanford Business School and launched StubHub, the world’s first secondary ticketing exchange. StubHub took off, and was ultimately acquired by eBay for $310MM.
Having pioneered the model with StubHub in the United States, Eric decided to bring his proven business model to Europe and introduce secondary ticketing to European sports, music and theatre fans.
viagogo launched in August 2006 and immediately brought efficiency and transparency to this previously murky marketplace. viagogo is now the world's largest ticket exchange and allows people to buy and sell tickets online in a safe, secure and guaranteed way. By managing payment and delivery, viagogo ensures that buyers receive their tickets and sellers receive payment.
Manchester United starts the ball rolling
The partnership deals that accompanied the launch were equally groundbreaking. Two of the biggest football clubs in the world, Manchester United and Chelsea FC, made viagogo their official secondary ticketing partner. viagogo is the only place where fans can legally re-sell tickets to games at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. These deals marked the first time a major European football club had partnered with a resale service.
A similar partnership followed with Bayern Munich in Germany, marking viagogo’s move into mainland Europe. The model was soon applied to rugby as deals were made with the United Kingdom’s Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and Harlequins FC
viagogo gets into the groove with the Material Girl
viagogo’s entertainment deals further underlined its determination to revolutionise all aspects of the ticketing industry. Warner Music International became the first music label to partner with a secondary ticketing company and Live Nation in the Netherlands the first concert promoter to adopt this revolutionary new service.
A major coup followed in May 2008 when viagogo ‘got into the groove’ with Madonna and became the Official Premium and Secondary Ticketing Partner for Madonna’s Sticky and & Sweet European Tour 2008. It was the first such deal between a major artist and a secondary ticketing company.
Partnerships have also been established with media partners such as Independent News and Media, the travel and entertainment portal, lastminute.com, bild.de, Germany’s largest news and entertainment portal and Kicker, the leading German football magazine. These leading media firms act as distribution partners for viagogo, enabling their users to access viagogo’s service directly on their websites.
viagogo enters theater with Andrew Lloyd Webber
Having set the standard in music and sport, viagogo moved into theatre in November 2008, with a partnership with the world’s leading theatre producer, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Again this was a first, marking the first time that a theatre producer had struck a ticketing deal of this kind. Soon after, viagogo consolidated its position as the leading destination for theatre fans to trade tickets with the launch of the Whatsonstage.com Ticket Exchange. Theatre fans now had a safe, secure and guaranteed environment to buy and sell tickets to top West End shows such as Jersey Boys, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Dirty Dancing, Mamma Mia!, No Mans Land and Hamlet.
Two aces and a Grand Slam for viagogo
In February 2009 viagogo announced that it had secured a further $15m of funding to take the total raised to $70m. Tennis superstars, Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf became the latest high profile investors and joined viagogo’s advisory board.
The value added became obvious when viagogo announced a deal with the French Open in April 2009. viagogo was named the official secondary ticketing partner of Rolland Garros. The deal trumpeted viagogo’s advance into France, having already established its leadership position in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Festivals take action against touting
In April 2009 viagogo also announced a groundbreaking partnership with the Isle of Wight Festival and with Festival Republic - the organisers of the Reading, Leeds and Latitude Festivals. viagogo became the exclusive and official secondary ticketing partner of all four festivals.
The agreements marked the first time that major festival promoters had signed partnerships with a secondary ticketing operator and confirmed that promoters were increasingly turning to viagogo to help eliminate the problems of unscrupulous ticket touts surrounding their events.
Further innovation and rapid growth will continue as viagogo expands to become a truly global business. viagogo will keep providing ticketing solutions that benefit the sports and entertainment industries while offering safety, security and transparency to the consumer.