Stan Chia on How Vivid Seats is Creating the Best Fan & Artist Experience in the Live Entertainment Industry
Stan Chia recently joined as Vivid Seats’ CEO in November 2018, but for him working with fast-growing companies is nothing new for the technology executive.
At 38 years old, Stan has had successful careers with some of the biggest names in tech — from companies like Amazon, Grubhub to Cisco. Now, Stan’s experience in e-commerce is being put to test at Vivid Seats, the third largest online ticketing platform in the US, where he is tasked with competing against industry giants Stubhub and Ticketmaster at a time where the lucrative US$15.2 billion a year secondary ticket market is growing by double dig
I caught up with Stan who provided us with insight into how he is reimagining Vivid Seats, rethinking the live entertainment and fan discovery lifecycle, and why he is doubling down on his commitment to create the best fan and artist experience in the live entertainment industry.
Here is an excerpt from the chat with the CEO of Vivid Seats, Stan Chia.
In Pic: CEO of Vivid Seats, Stan Chia
You were hired three years ago to build Grubhub's food delivery business. Prior to that, you spent significant time with both Amazon and Cisco. So, how do your years in tech inform your decisions at Vivid Seats, particularly as it pertains to scaling the company and competing with rivals like Stubhub and Ticketmaster?
Having personally had the opportunity to work at multiple leading e-commerce and tech companies – building businesses from scratch as well as scaling reasonably mature ones – has taught me so much, but two items come to mind most.
Firstly, remaining fanatical, pun intended, about the experience of your customers should be the driving force behind everything you do – remembering that in every marketplace there are many different customers, and ensuring that you create a product and experience where everybody wins together.
Secondly, people matter. Surround yourself with the most talented people you can find; those who share your values and embody your passion for the business, and empower them to reach for the stars. At Vivid Seats, we like to call this “Decisively United,” where we reject silos in favor of collaboration, the best thinking wins, and we commit together.
In April, you led the acquisition of Fanxchange. Can you tell us how this acquisition plays into the larger Vivid Seats growth strategy?
For years, we’ve worked tirelessly to become the leading independent ticket marketplace in North America. As part of our journey, we constantly evaluate ways to drive more value to our customers. The B2B space was one that we had a natural affinity for as we started to think through more ways to utilise our best-in-class live event inventory. When we first started talking to the team at Fanxchange about a partnership, we immediately knew there was a strong cultural fit in addition to the synergistic business. Through this acquisition, we’ve gained new members of the Vivid Seats family in Toronto, Canada, with strong connections and experience in the B2B space, and the best B2B technology in ticketing. In the months, we’ve added household names like CaesarsEntertainment and Groupon to our rapidly expanding list of partners, as well as truly incredible backend technology that makes finding the greatest live events even easier for fans everywhere.
Then in May, you led the company to partner with Rolling Stone, becoming the brand's first ever exclusive ticketing company. This is in addition to your partnerships with ESPN, Capital One, and the Big Ten Conference. How do these partnerships separate the Vivid Seats product from the rest of the secondary ticket market?We understand that fans of live events have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying tickets. Our goal is not only to offer competitive prices that are often the lowest available, but to earn consumers’ trust. Our longstanding 100 per cent Buyer Guarantee is part of the commitment to the tens of millions of fans that utilise our platform every year. Additionally, a mix of new and longstanding partnerships with the likes of Capital One, ESPN, Rolling Stone, the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Clippers, Duke Athletics, furthermore solidifies our role as a respected and credible source across music, sports, theater, and more by both fans and brands alike. Additionally, we’re always looking to give fans experiences they can’t get anywhere else, such as VIP access to incredible events such as Rolling Stone Live: Palm Springs and Rolling Stone Live: Chicago, both of which take place during major music festival weekends. Trust me, you don’t want to miss these!
You just launched Vivid Seats Rewards, a loyalty program that will allow fans to earn credit stack up against other secondary ticketing platform programs, such as StubHub's Beyond program?
With two decades, our inventory, reliability, and competitive prices have been among our strongest selling points. With the release of our loyalty program, Vivid Seats Rewards, we’ve added another amazing benefit for consumers.
As you mentioned, loyalty programs – especially those that benefit all fans – are a rarity in the ticketing industry. We created Vivid Seats Rewards to benefit the everyday fan and super fans alike so that all our customers get the most value when buying tickets on our new app. Everyone is automatically enrolled, with no need to sign up, and there aren’t any limits on accumulation, any blackout dates, or any catches. With three statuses — MVP, Rock Star, and Hall of Famer — fans can earn an increasing percentage of credit back, as well as exclusive in-app offers, allowing everyone to join in. We’re even offering double credit back on Labor Day, because we’re just as excited about all the incredible upcoming fall concert tours, Broadway shows, and new sports seasons as fans are.
Discovery is being discussed a lot in music, particularly with the digital streaming platforms. On the live music side, how is Vivid Seats enabling the discovery of new live entertainment for its users?
As an avid guitar player and a music lover, I’ve followed this trend closely over the past few years. I’m happy to say that recently, we officially launched our newly redesigned app with a focus on event discovery and personalisation. You’ll now find a slick new interface that ensures both the ability to find what you’re looking for, as well as discover new events. In addition, we’ll continue to get smarter and surface recommendations that continue to be more and more relevant. And most importantly, we have the industry’s first rewards program so that you get rewarded as you discover new live events.
As of 2016, Vivid Seats had the third-largest market share of online event ticket resales just behind StubHub and Ticketmaster, according to a report from credit ratings agency Moody's. How do you plan to differentiate Vivid Seats from the rest of the competition out there? And how are you communicating those differences to consumers who are buying tickets online?
We have and always will remain fiercely dedicated to our customers – and look for ways to continue to drive innovation and access on their behalf. In addition to providing the most value to over 500,000 events each year through our pricing, as well as our new industry-leading rewards program, we’re always working to alleviate the anxiety related to accessing live events. Our 100 per cent Buyer Guarantee was designed to give our customers the utmost peace of mind that their transaction is safe, secure, and accurate with access guaranteed, except when the event is cancelled… in which case we provide a full refund!
When fans turn to Vivid Seats for tickets to live events, they can expect a competitive price and a safe, secure transaction. We certainly expect nothing less.
The secondary ticket market has received some scrutiny over the last few weeks. How can the industry as a whole make the secondary ticket market fairer for the fan and artist?
With nearly 20 years into our journey, our team is comprised of hundreds of music lovers, sports fanatics, performing arts maestros, and passionate employees that understand the undeniable joy of attending live events. We’re always working to ensure that our transactions are secure, and consumers are satisfied, and that we’re doing everything we can to get this right. Our years of experience have provided us with some of the strongest relationships with licensed, certified, and professional ticket resellers, and our partnerships with various sports teams provide another layer of authenticity aimed at giving fans peace of mind.