Founders Fund Partner Keith Rabois recently launched a new podcast on Sirius XM – Series A with Keith Rabois. In the first episode, he interviewed Doordash cofounder and CEO Tony Xu. For this second episode, he’s interviewed Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz. You can listen to the entire conversation on Sirius XM. But if you prefer reading, I’ve transcribed the conversation below.
Keith Rabois is a general partner at Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital firm with an unparalleled track record as an entrepreneur, investor, and executive, Keith has been instrumental in some of the most ubiquitous social and commerce platforms like Doordash, Lyft, Airbnb and YouTube. Now, he’s here to share conversations with some of today’s most accomplished CEOs and innovators in the technology advancing our future. Welcome to Series A with Keith Rabois on Sirius XM Business Radio.
Keith Rabois: Welcome to series A with Keith Rabois on Sirius XM Business Radio Channel 132, where I interview once a month, the best CEOs all across technology and bring their stories, their company’s stories and their histories to you. Today I’m here with my friend Julia Hartz, CEO of the ticketing platform Eventbrite. Julia, welcome to Sirius XM Radio.
Julia Hartz: Thank you, Keith. I’m excited to be here.
Keith Rabois: Cool, Julia. So you want to tell us what is Eventbrite? And what do people use Eventbrite for?
Julia Hartz: Sure. So Eventbrite is the world’s largest self-service, online, event ticketing platform. And we’re focused on enabling anyone to be a successful event creator by helping them publish, promote, and sell out their events online. And with that, we help them find audience and connect the right people to the right live gatherings. And our entire mission is fueled by human connection and the importance of creating indelible memories in real life through live events.
Keith Rabois: And how many people in a typical year use Eventbrite to host or create an event?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, so about a million active event creators use Eventbrite to publish over 5 million events, gathering hundreds of millions of people at those events. The events can be free, paid, online, in person. And I would think about Eventbrite as a cross between Shopify for small merchants, we are to small and medium event creators, and Etsy in terms of homemade, we power unique and local events. So these are the events that typically fill your calendar. It’s the Tuesday night book reading and the Sunday morning yoga workshop. We’re really building the mosaic of the experiences that really color your life, and again, create those unforgettable memories that are with you for a lifetime.
Keith Rabois: And when did you start Eventbrite?
Julia Hartz: We started Eventbrite back in 2006.
Keith Rabois: Wow.
Julia Hartz: Yeah, we’re 15 years old.
Keith Rabois: It’s amazing. And what was —
Julia Hartz: Learner’s permit. We can almost drive.
Keith Rabois: What was the original vision behind the company? How did you know it was a good idea and that the world needed this?
Julia Hartz: Well, I think that we came to it from several different angles. So the founding team was Kevin Hartz, who at the time was my fiancee, and is now my husband and partner in crime. And you and Kevin go way back. The second founder was Renaud Visage, an engineer who also was a passionate, and is a passionate photographer. And then myself, I came from television, so I was working at MTV on a show called Jackass. And then at FX Networks on shows like Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, and The Shield.
So Kevin’s early career really focused on microtransactional platforms. So he was lucky enough to be a seed investor in what became PayPal. And that really inspired him to think about how moving small amounts of money efficiently and cheaply around the world could open up industries, could democratize industries like international money remittance, which was what he focused on with Xoom, X-O-O-M, our children love to tease him about that now. And so he was working on that when I met him. And we, you know, I had really seen the way in which experiences shape audiences, there was nothing quite like being in real life and experiencing something together, whether it was a screening, or it was a documentary that we were working on about fandoms where we went to all these crazy conventions around the world. And we discovered that there was just this unbelievable energy around these communities gathering.
And then Renaud was really interested in how entrepreneurs could turn their passions into profit, and start to teach people their skills, which is something we saw come true on the platform through the first crisis, which was the great recession. So in 2008 2009. So we all came from different angles. And we all started thinking about what would the entry point be to the idea of democratizing the event ticketing industry.
At the time, there was really nothing that you could use if you wanted to sell tickets online. You could, you know, you could certainly put a PayPal button on your website, you need to have a website. You could, you know, sign up for some really antiquated old software and pay a bunch of money and be locked into a contract. But our core customer doesn’t want to do that, or can’t do that. So the majority of our customers came from offline, which is a beautiful thing, because that’s full enablement of technology, making it easier and faster, and more reliable to do something online.
So we did not know it would be a great success. Well, I should take that back. Kevin always thinks that things are going to be a great success, which makes him an excellent entrepreneur. He’s missing that chip that says this might not work out in his brain. And so, you know, we just put one foot in front of the other. But I think that the thing is, is like, everything starts small. We were in a windowless phone closet in a warehouse in Potrero Hill, you’d been there many times, Keith. And we had sawhorses and plywood as desks. I sound like an old timer. But it was important because we bootstrapped the company. We truly bootstrapped the company. We spent less than a quarter of a million dollars in the first two years.
Keith Rabois: What led you to change from bootstrapping the company to raise outside capital from VCs or angel investors?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, the reason why we bootstraped the company was really more of an academic choice. It was Kevin had, you know, raised a lot of money with Xoom, because they had to, they had to have a certain amount of money on the balance sheet in order to get the regulatory compliance they needed to move money online post 9/11. I mean, the reason why is Xoom was a success, it went on to go public and then get acquired by PayPal, is because that was insane, right after 9/11 to try to do that. And yet it took a ton of capital. So he had to take on a lot of capital really early.
And so we decided to do it the other way with Eventbrite. And what that afforded us to do with be very flexible, and also take our time, to some extent. We got to know our customers. First, our core creator was the tech bloggers who were hosting meetups in Silicon Valley. The best early customers to have, because they are very vocal about what they hated about the product. And then we started to see organic adoption happen. So, East Coast speed dating, you know, European tours. We were global from the get go, because we were built on the original PayPal API. And it was just completely taking off in the early years in a way that we had hoped, but you know, didn’t know if it would actually happen.
So the point at which we raised money was exactly when we knew that the only way for us to get to the next level was to hire a team. And prior to that, we’d just been super scrappy. It was just the three of us. We had some contractors. We funded the company ourselves, but also raised a small Angel round with people like Michael Birch, and I’m pretty sure you were in those very, very early days, Keith, so thank you. We begged, borrowed, and stole. And then, I don’t think we stole, and then we reached that point where we felt felt like, wow, this idea is going to become a business, and then the business is going to become a company.
That was 2008. A really bad time to decide to go fundraise. So we actually, we pitched 27 firms on Sand Hill Road, and we received 27 Nos. And, you know, ever the optimist, Kevin left our 2009 annual plan with every VC. And they’re sort of like, yeah, okay, the sky is falling, good luck with this whole, you know, ticketing thing. And what happened was, people became their own entrepreneurs. Because they’d lost their jobs, they turned to live experiences, they turned to either gathering to learn a new skill or to teach a new skill or to create a new road for themselves, a new path to prosperity.
And 2009 was a banner year for us. Much of our growth is to this day organic, but that was just when the flywheel started to turn faster. So we went back to Sand Hill Road at the end of 2009, to show everybody our results, and it was sort of this huge novel idea that we actually would have made and exceeded this plan that we had left them with. And so that fundraising went a lot faster. And we were able to raise a small round with Sequoia Capital, which was our first choice firm. It was our sort of priority zero.
Keith Rabois: So effectively, the first financial crisis, the first crisis that you sort of encountered as a company became actually a propellant, a wave that you could ride and turn Eventbrite into the modern, you know, sort of visions. You’re able to embrace adversity the first time.
Julia Hartz: Well, yes. And what an interesting, you know, sort of, I don’t know, it’s like this, these two bookends in terms of opportunity born out of crisis, which we’ll get to. But I think, yeah, I think that what it proved to us was that Eventbrite was resilient. It had self-healing properties and it was a company that could survive in the worst of times. You think about that as like an organism. And like, you know, Darwin theory. It’s like, you want to find those things that can that can actually be in the harshest climates, and survive. So that’s fundamental to who we are as a business. And it’s also a thesis that I think Kevin has, and I believe you do, too, in terms of investing.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, no, absolutely. Kevin certainly applies that filter as do I to entrepreneurs. When entrepreneurs pitch Kevin, he’s looking for that resilience, that tenacity, the grit that’s going to survive in any environment and thrive, actually, in environments that other people would be terrified about. Kevin’s also, as you pointed out, extremely optimistic. When did you get persuaded that this was really going to work?
Julia Hartz: I’ve always been a really good counterbalance to Kevin and you know, it is unique to be a husband and wife team, scaling a company, although there’s, at last count, over a million companies in the US that are founded by a husband and wife team. In tech, it’s a little less rare. And even back then it was really rare.
It’s actually something that we had to expectation manage when we went out and pitched VCs. And you know, the way we were so different, but we have some striking similar similarities. And one of them is we like to go right at the awkward subject. So we would walk into these meetings and just say, you know, we’re married, because at this point, we’ve got married, and we’d had our first kid. Look, we’re married, here’s how we deal, here’s how we operate, here are our rules, we had like three rules. And here’s what we’re gonna do if things go sideways, or someone needs to exit the business. And that seemed to really sort of satiate that doubt or the questions that people had. But it has been an incredibly rewarding journey, because we are two parts of a compliment.
And, you know, I think while Kevin is an eternal optimist, and really just like, is fueled by this insane conviction and optimism, I’m more of a realist, and sort of look for things that are broken and fix them. And so, you know, I sort of think about myself as an operator to his entrepreneur, and optimizing is really one of my core strengths. And then also building culture.
And that was something that I think, given the fact that we were working together, and we were both active in the business, when we started to scale the business from 30 people to 100 people in a year, which felt, you know, like a team to accompany, I got to really dig in, and be the architect of the culture. And I think that made all the difference in the world. Not necessarily because it was me, but because it was me.
Keith Rabois: Knowing both you quite well, I agree. It was clearly because of you. Can you share what three rules were? Given, you know, as you pointed out, there’s a million people running businesses all across the United States that are basically husband and wife or family members. What are those rules and what principles might they borrow from your sort of history?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, so the first one was divide and conquer. Never work on the same thing at the same time. And if you have, if you’re listening, and you have a partner in life, you understand exactly what I’m saying. Because, you know, imagine trying to control the mouse on a Google spreadsheet together. It’s just a disaster. And we’ve broken that rule very few times. And it’s been a disaster. And you know, Michael Birch actually, Michael and Xochi Burch founded several businesses together, one of them Bebo, that was acquired by AOL, you know, like scaled and became this really successful early social media platform. And that was their role. We were in a pub one night and in there like just never work on the same thing at the same time. So we took that to the bank, and we really focused on making sure that we could adhere to that. And the benefit of that is not only conflict, I mean, you don’t really want to avoid conflict, but like conflict management, you’re not setting yourself up to have constant sort of turf wars. But the big benefit is that you can get from point A to point Z 10x faster if you’re in your lane.
The second rule was pretty funny, which is that if we did run into conflict, we never wanted that to become tension in the office. There is absolutely nothing worse than a couple that is romantically involved having a fight at the office. I mean, I just, I can’t honestly think of a worse social dynamic. And it’s just weird, right? So what we would do is, if we did get into a conflict, we would turn out the lights, this was just one way when it was just the two of us. But we were surrounded by all these other founder teams. So it was pretty funny, like this founder commune. We would turn off the lights in our in our little conference room office and we’d lay on the floor and hold hands. And just the act of doing that, and having to break it up was like enough to get us past any conflict. You know, Kevin and I don’t really harbor a lot. So by the time we were on the floor, we’d be laughing about whatever happened. And, and that really worked well.
And then the third thing is probably is pretty simple. But we had to really quickly or like, because we got married, and we had a baby pretty quick, you know, it was like 18 months from starting Eventbrite, getting married, having kids. So we had to, like, maybe this sounds obvious, but we had to make it very clear to one another that our relationship mattered more than the company. That like, that sounds super simple. But times, especially when the scaling was happening, and there were a lot of questions about what the future of the company was going to be like, that came in handy. So in the beginning, it felt like Well, duh. But you really have to, the way that that rule benefited us is that we put so much care and intention into being great founders and operators together, because we both didn’t want to lose the magic of working together. And we certainly didn’t want to lose our relationship over it.
So, um, so those were the three rules. The exit plan was we never agreed on an exit plan. In one meeting, we’d say I’d leave and the other meeting we’d say he left. And we never ever agreed on it. It was like Oh no, I’ll leave. Oh, no, I” leave. You know, it’s like, that was a little bit…
Keith Rabois: I wonder if you’d A/B tested that and see which one got more termsheets?
Julia Hartz: Exactly. And even back then, that was a different time.
Keith Rabois: Oh, my God. Yeah. Like No, that was incredibly controversial or rare to see. Now there’s many more examples of success. In fact, you know, you’re like the role model for people that want to do this and have aspirations. With the benefits of 15 years of history, any new rules you’d advise people like, or edits Tto those rules?
Julia Hartz: Um, that’s a good question. Well, I think that every founder team is like relationship, right? With the obvious differences. But I would say now, 15 years later, it is as important for you to approach that relationship as you would if you had a lot on the line, like you know, your marriage. Because I think the more that you can invest in that relationship early on, the better and faster you’ll be able to scale the culture of trust. You can’t actually establish trust if the founders aren’t shoulder to shoulder and absolutely, like would, you know, practically die for one another. That’s my opinion. Because I’ve seen it now happen a lot, where you’ll find a really great founder, and then all of a sudden you find out like, they have some sort of cantankerous relationship with their other founder. And that’s a big red flag for me, because I think that you’re spending so much energy on that, that you’re not thinking about how to scale your business or scale your company. And if you’re on shaky ground, there’s no way a culture will be able to thrive, that has any element of trust, or competence in it.
Keith Rabois: Great. Let’s talk about the second big crisis that Eventbrite confronted, which was probably March of 2020. Like almost everybody else in the planet, all of a sudden, the world was turned upside down by COVID. I assume a reasonable fraction of events on Eventbrite, were in the real world. And those started, either very quickly, or very slowly disappearing. So walk me through like your thinking internally in March of 2020. And then what did you do after you realized that the world was changing very quickly?
Julia Hartz: Well, I think that for any company that faces a crucible moment like this, it’s one that you just absolutely will never forget. And and I’ve taken time to write it down just to make sure I don’t forget all the details, but it’s it’s incredibly vivid, like it was just yesterday. It starts in February. So Kevin and I had traveled down to Argentina with our girls to meet the team down there. We have about 150 brilliant engineers in Mendoza, and we went down to introduce the girls to that team and you know, really steep them in that culture. And we were on our way back. And we both noticed that there were a number of people on the plane with masks on. And, you know, things were starting to, to heat up from the media perspective on what was happening in Wuhan. We came back and two things happened. We had our board meeting, and then we had an earnings call. And at the board meeting, we have an unbelievable board, but two people had business in China, and they were just completely panicked. And I will never forget, this is my worst moment. When I said, Let’s not make this whole board meeting about Coronavirus.
Keith Rabois: Hopefully, they forgot. They forgot. They’ve forgotten. Don’t worry.
Julia Hartz: And I just, I’m calling it out. So for anybody listening, who has had a moment like that, you too can survive a moment like that. Um, and so the whole board meeting ended up being about Coronavirus. And, you know, we came out of that with like a todo, a pretty big todo, which was create, codify the disaster plan, if Coronavirus came to the United States, and really started to impact the business. Because at that point, we saw nothing in the business.
The second thing that happened was the earnings call, and you know, there’s another large ticketing company that is public that has nothing to do with our business. But typically people tend to like look at the two and try to get reference. And they mentioned nothing, or I think they said something like this will not impact our business. And, you know, I just felt like the right thing to do would say, would actually tell the truth, which is if this is truly the 100 year pandemic, this will impact our business. And we really got a lot of trouble for that, like people didn’t like that, our stock was down, we’d already had a really rough first year being public. So I mean, this is not, you know, this was not like my first rodeo of a not great earnings call. So it immediately stoked this sense of uncertainty in the company. And I, you know, I knew what I was doing. It’s not like I thought, oh, nobody will notice. And we started working on the plan, and the ink was barely dry.
And I woke up one morning in early March and our CFO texted me and said, It’s here. And I just had chills as I opened my laptop to look at Tableau. And COVID came in like a wrecking ball. But with no naked Miley Cyrus on it. It was not here to play, it was here to kill our business. And it was not messing around. And it was not like a little bit of a blip. It was like a big blip. And for a company that is so well measured and consistent, it was just a complete anomaly.
And it was just the beginning of this really crazy downward slope. So we didn’t have any time to wonder if COVID was going to impact our business. It was very clear that it was going to. And what happened was the demand side almost all dried up within two weeks, as news headlines turned from, you know, Bernie versus Biden to Oh, my God, there are these cases in Washington, and you know, everything related to what then was starting to be referred to as COVID-19. And in two weeks, in late March, we went from, you know, roughly $30 million monthly run rate to negative $7 million. We were processing more refunds than revenue.
Keith Rabois: Oh, my God.
Julia Hartz: It’s just, the impact was so severe that it just, I mean, it at least took the guessing out of it. I can put it that way, you know. And I think that the way that it felt to me and to Kevin was that our firstborn was in the ICU. And we were going to do everything in our power to save the company. So I remember coming home on the Friday that we all decided to start working from home, which was like, March 13. And our entire office had been turned into the gnarliest War Room, and I have pictures. Um, Kevin took all of these gaming monitors, these like, I don’t know what is, like a five foot gaming monitor that’s like curved and created almost a 360 War Room with these monitors, and he had all the stats and everything up, whiteboards, the whole thing. And I realized in that moment, he had dropped everything. And like, there was no question that we were going to work together with the team and the board to save the company. And that was like, that was like a warm, fuzzy feeling. And then from there, it was just ice water on my head for like three months.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, so after you set up the War Room, you have all the data, but data is not that useful, because it’s just all bad news. It’s more bad news. You told Kevin, I could have told Kevin to skip the monitors like, it’s bad.
Julia Hartz: Yeah. Totally. It set the mood.
Keith Rabois: Yeah. So, after that the realities sort of sunk in pretty quickly that this was potentially catastrophic for your company, let alone you know, individuals. How did you go about like, coming up with a plan, developing a contingency, deciding what to do, actually?
Julia Hartz: Well, so we came up with a plan in the first 24 hours, and it was really, we reached out to everyone. I mean, I can’t believe how many people helped us in those early days. But the feedback we got from all of our mentors, advisors, you know, people we didn’t even know was, you have to raise money.
You know, there’s that famous story about Southwest and 9/11. And Herb Kelleher was like, in the in the background, he wasn’t running the company, he was like, the chairman. And he wrote on his his famous, you know, yellow line paper, GET CASH. And that’s what we needed to do.
And so it became this very quickly this, you know, war strategy of shore up the business. There was a whole host of activities that we did around that, which was, you know, things like we had an advanced payout program that was about to release the next payout to a bunch of people who weren’t going to be hosting those events. We needed to stop that, we needed to educate our customers about what was happening and get them, basically, you’re turning a huge, huge engine in reverse.
So imagine, like it was the Titanic, you know. It’s like, okay, that’s not very exciting. And it’s scary, and it doesn’t work very well, sometimes. So we’re trying to like, not run it into the glacier. And then the second thing was that we needed, and we needed to restructure the company. Like there was no way we were going to make it through a global pandemic for however long and be able to raise money if we didn’t immediately restructure the company.
And the heart there for me… So there’s the head, of like, you know, we can’t continue with this cost basis if we’re not making revenue. The heart was, if we’re going to do this, let’s do this fast. Because who knows what’s around the corner. I wanted to get the people that we were inevitably going to be telling that they didn’t have a job at Eventbrite, I wanted to get them a job somewhere else. So we announced our layoff on April 8, which I think was one of the earliest layoffs, significantly off, not like a 10%. It was 45%.
And we announced it on April 8, and there are no words to describe how horrible that feels. But what I am proud of is that we did it with such heart and intention. You know, we had our entire alumni from years and years populating this hub of jobs that were available at the companies that they were now working at. We had over 100 companies in 24 hours. We have an entire TA team, our talent acquisition team, actually flipped their job and become recruiters for the people who are leaving Eventbrite. We would let everybody keep their laptops. It’s like, we just we did it our way. And that’s not something I want to be good at. But I’m so proud of what it really showed people about who we are.
And then we needed to raise money. So it was stop the bleeding, restructure the company, which by the way, we needed to restructure it against a strategy that we could execute on. And the way that was I got everybody in a room, a virtual room, and I said to my executive team, I said, With the wisdom that we have now about this business, what would we do if we could do it all over again? And we started just, we had this like respite from the crisis management. We like started to dream, we started to draw, we started to talk about what we do best. What is Eventbrite and what do we do best? And then we came up with what that would be. And then my closing line was, We’re going to do it all over again. This is going to be Day One. Like Eventbrite, is no longer Eventbrite. It does not exist the way it was. So we’re gonna start over. And so, go build your team against that strategy. And that’s what we used as the basis of the restructuring.
And then we had to go raise money. And getting out before our earnings call to people who had no idea what was going to be happening at that point. You know, the markets were in an downward spiral, like nobody knew what the benefit was going to be. And we were the company that I mean, you would be insane to finance. And so, that was super interesting.
Keith Rabois: So how’d you find investors that loved in insanity?
Julia Hartz: We found people, good people, through our, mostly our board, who knew who we were and knew what we could do, and understood that we would do the right thing. And it was all personal. Like there was, and that’s how Kevin and I have always operated, which is find the right people. And so we ended up with several options. And we chose the right partner, we chose Francisco Partners, and DJ and his team there. And you know, it was a great deal for them. But it also was really important for us, because what I didn’t want to do, you know, it’s like, we’re cutting off limbs to save the kid. We’re like injecting the kid with like, you know, an infusion. I didn’t want to go ahead and do something that six months later, I would have regretted or would have turned the course of the business.
We just needed somebody to be in that moment with us and be that financial backstop. So from beginning to end, it was, you know, early March COVID happens, April 8, we announced our layoff, May 11, we do our earnings call and announce the financing, June 12, we turn right around and do a public market convert, which is a major benefit of being a public company. And we start to refinance, we raise a bit more, and we start to refinance that initial tranche. And then in March of this year, we did a public market convert that completely changed the economics of what we’ve raised, and I can’t tell you how beneficial that is to the company now. Because we’re leaner, we’re much leaner on all accounts. And stronger. And faster.
Keith Rabois: So let’s talk about the positive version. So you reinvented the company, you have the clarifying vision. What were the elements of like, what could Eventbrite be if you’re starting all over again?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, so Eventbrite, the job that Eventbrite does best for event producers is we give them a self service platform that they can really use as their operating system. And we’re the front door to the event. And we help them do two things really, really well: Save time, which is money, when you’re a sole proprietor, you have a small team. And reach a larger audience. And during COVID, in the background to all of this, our customers, our creators pivoted toward online events, so much so that in 2020, we had 5 million active events, same numbers as 2019. And, you know, online events went from like 5%, to at one point 80% of the events on Eventbrite. And it doesn’t matter if you’re hosting an online event, an in person event, a hybrid event, Eventbrite is that operating system that not only allows you to have a web presence, but also allows you to build audience and to convert that audience into event goers that are going to be part of your community. And what I learned was, we have such an awesome opportunity to be that Trusted Choice for those event creators who are hosting frequent events.
So our core customer is someone who’s hosting at least one event a month. And that is a business that they’re running. And Eventbrite understands that core customer so well, so much so that we can go out and help them match to the right audiences to extend their community.
But something happened that I didn’t expect at all, which is that these unique and local events, which is really the hallmark of the Eventbrite supply actually started to build these huge global audiences online. So we had things like Daybreaker, which is this awesome, early morning rave that used to just happen once a month in these, you know, unique locations around New York, Miami and LA. And they immediately pivoted to an online Saturday dance party that was sort of like Yeezy Sunday service. It was like two hours of just like, crazy themed party dance. And, you know, kids are showing up online and Zoom. And it’s this whole thing. They went from, you know, a successful business that was unique and local to a global brand that now has tens of thousands of people every week coming from 115 countries. So this whole new avenue of growth opened up for our customers. And that really gave us the fuel and momentum to understand, Okay, where does our product play a role in making their jobs easier?
Keith Rabois: Do you think that people revert back to real world events at the same scale? Are you going to be back at 80%? Or do you think there’s been a permanent shift in how people interact with each other?
Julia Hartz: It’s already happened for us right now that we will revert. So we’ve seen that happen over the last two months as countries like the US and the UK start to communicate more about reopening. We also saw in Australia, even despite the volatility of being open and then in [inaudible] shut downs that people wanted to get out, they wanted to be together. Absolutely. But also, the frequency increased and [inaudible] it’s so much in Australia that you saw things like beer tasting festivals that would happen maybe once a month, were starting to happen every week and sell out. And so, um, so it’s started to become more of an ingrained habit to get out, you know, there’s just this pent up demand. I think online gathering absolutely is going to continue to soar. Um, I think, you know, I don’t know where we’ll end up sort of, ultimately, where that shift will sort of settle out. But we see a rise in in person events that’s just unprecedented. That we’ve never seen on the platform.
Keith Rabois: What about on the professional side? How do you think people are going to perform their jobs or tasks? You mentioned that you do your war rooms by zoom? What do you think the future of working together looks like?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, it was all online, except for Kevin and I, who were perpetually lying on the floor with the lights out. So, it’s interesting. I have two board seats that I hold that were really, really fortuitous during this time. One is Four Seasons Hotels, and the other is UC[inaudible]. And so these data points have come in from these board meetings, you know, that were just like, either confirming or horrifying. And having that kind of knowledge, that well rounded knowledge, has helped a lot. I think that business travel, and this is not an unpopular idea, but I think business travel for the next five years is just totally different. I think people just don’t, as much as they know that they don’t need to commute, they also don’t need to fly somewhere for a meeting. However, I would say that conference-wise, never underestimate the power of FOMO. I think that we’re going to start to see that these conferences are going to come back in a major way, these gatherings, I mean, I know Keith, you’ve been starting to host gatherings in Miami. And, you know, I’m almost certain people are traveling to be there. So I think it’s about the community, I think it’s about how people connect to one another. And I really am skeptical about the ability to successfully execute a great live experience in a hybrid way. So meaning in a synchronous hybrid fashion.
I think our customers will have hybrid businesses, because I’ll tell you, they’re not going to give up that online business that they’ve grown now. And they need to Eventbrite more than ever to continue engaging those audiences. But they’re also going to bring back their in person events. They’re not going to try to do the both of them at the same time for different audiences. I think that we are, I don’t know, at least a decade away from telepresence enabling that in any meaningful way. And so, I think for now, you’re going to see these synchronous experiences. And I think that there’s been on the work front, there’s been a big disruption. I think that people feel a very big, kind of liberating feeling of freedom and choice.
However, I wonder what happens when people started to gather in offices and share ideas together and collaborate and how that’s gonna feel if you’re opting out to be virtual versus opting in to be there in person. I just think there’s just a huge growth curve in front of us. I think there’s way more unanswered questions to tackle.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, I agree with that. I think it’s like the professional version of FOMO. So if your colleagues are gathering in the office, and they’re gossiping, and they’re brainstorming, and there’s a lot of spontaneity, and that changes the plan, people who are not able to participate are going to feel like they’re missing out professionally. And they’re going to feel therefore the need to, you know, be in an office with other people. Do you think there’s a solution that’s different than where we started, where companies have a different way of operating to take advantage of, you know, the liberty, the freedom, the diversity of choices of where people want to live, but can have the constructive dialogues in person?
Julia Hartz: Yeah, I think it just takes us organizing ourselves in a different way. So I always believe that any system can be broken down and rebuilt better over time as we learn more and more. And I think there are a lot of systems in our corporate world that don’t work and or don’t make any sense. I think having everybody in the office five days a week was just a really easy way, it was a shortcut to having a dynamic environment. And I think we can achieve a dynamic environment, but I believe it has to be highly organized.
Now, I’m a highly organized person. Like if I could put my family members in Container Store bins, I would, and label them. But alas, I can’t. And so it’s probably, you know, the operator and the optimizer in me, I mean, it’s probably it’s probably not a shocker, but I think that, what we’re trying to do at Eventbrite is, we’re delineating paths. So we understand that there’s agency and choice in this new world of working. And we honor that. However, I think it’s important for people to be really intentional about what path they are going to be on.
So we have this three tiered system or the three paths, not tiers, it’s pathways, you can be a remote. So we’re BriteLinks, go with me on this one, Keith, you’re gonna like vomit into your microphone, we’re BriteLinks, we have FlexLinks. So those are people who are going to be in the office two to three days a week, but they don’t have a dedicated desk, and they do have to reserve their spot because it’s going to be scarce, the space. We have HubLinks, which is someone who is going to be at an office, which we call a hub, three to five days a week and have a dedicated desk. And then we have RemoteLinks, who will not be anywhere near a hub or come into a hub very often, except for you know, special events or, you know, retreats or whatnot.
And we’re gonna give everybody a 30 day grace period. And then, and then you need to make a commitment for 12 months. And so there’s, I think that’s okay. Again, here, I’m on the like, first chapter of this, I’m like, I think this is a brilliant idea. But I think I like the design, because I think it gives autonomy and choice. But it also has a commitment level that’s important for you to understand the social contracts and the ways in which we offer perks and the way we optimize the working environment for our team.
And I also think that the learning and development and training has to become far more thoughtful and proactive. And so that’s an opportunity for us at Eventbrite that we’re investing heavily in. To really ensure that we don’t lose people who are early on in their career, you know, that they don’t kind of drift between the virtual space, and that we can help them grow and accelerate and have the best work that they’ve ever done happen at Eventbrite.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, I agree that one of the two biggest disadvantages of either a hybrid or remote culture is the ability to learn by osmosis. People typically progress in their craft by learning through peers. And it’s much more difficult when you have to orchestrate that. And you have to be much more intentional and more programmatic. I’m interested to see what kind education you can create, because I don’t think any company has really solved this problem before. And I think a lot of companies will default to therefore trying to hire more experienced people, which is not necessarily the right answer. But if you’re going to sort of hire inexperienced people and groom them, we’re going to do an alternative to osmosis.
Julia Hartz: Right. And I mean, you are, this is my Keith commercial break. Kevin said you were the smartest person, you were one of the smartest people at Stanford. I would say that since I’ve known you, which has been about as long as I’ve known Kevin, you’ve always taught me something either, you know, intrinsically or extrinsically. Like how to run an incredibly elaborate and multi day wedding and have everyone arrive on time and prepared in the right dress. You are my spirit guide when it comes to really managing people and teaching them. And I wonder how you’ll change that. Right?
You’ve now expanded to a different location, and you’re teaching people remotely and through, you know, podcasts like this. There might be something there for you to develop in terms of what does it look like in this next era, to really teach and inspire? And you know, and I think that’ll be really exciting, because it’ll accelerate some different ways of learning and models of teaching that I think we didn’t really appreciate before that.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting challenge. And I would like to embrace it, not the wedding planning part. I definitely, definitely do not need – No, I don’t need a new career. I’m already juggling enough jobs. But however, I think the challenge at the core of the root challenge is some of the best learnings come without structure. And as you by intent create programming, the learnings that are best achieved through unstructured environments tend to get crowded out. And so it’s how do you preserve the types of learnings that really thrive in without structure and figure out a way to replicate that. And that’s the intellectual challenge.
Julia Hartz: Yeah, that’s right. That will be very interesting to see how that plays out. And I think we can both agree that some of the greatest lessons we’ve learned has been on the job, so to speak. And what I learned coming out of this last crisis is help is everywhere if you ask for it. And you know that probably should have been something I learned decades ago, but I really saw it in action. And so it changes the way I operate as a person in our tech community, because I know how much it meant to me when somebody just jumped on a Zoom or picked up a phone call. And so I’m much, much more unstructured about how I help people now, because of just the accessibility. It’s like, that could be the difference between someone deciding to quit, or stay in it. And certainly, I know, one of our dear close friends Roelof. He is absolutely, you know, one of the most important people in this Eventbrite story, and you often kind of stays behind the scenes, but he was our first VC and the first, you know, person besides us on the board, and he’s the person I call and I’ve only done this twice, when I didn’t know if we should keep going. And both times it was like a 30 second conversation. And it made all the difference in the world. There’s just that complete little injection of confidence that I needed. So I think that’s, I don’t want to see that be lost in this era.
Keith Rabois: Yeah. Hopefully we can all work together to preserve that. That’s Roelof Botha at Sequoia Capital who used to be a colleague of mine at PayPal back when we were all young.
Julia Hartz: All little young whippersnappers.
Keith Rabois: Yeah, young whippersnappers. Somewhat naive. With that, I’d love to thank Julia Hartz for taking the time to join us on Sirius XM Radio Business Channel 132. Thanks for all of your time, advice, wisdom.
Julia Hartz: Thanks so much Keith. It was great to see you.
Keith Rabois: Pleasure to be with you.