eBay buys StubHub for $310 million

News.com: Online auctioneer eBay has agreed to buy sports ticket reseller StubHub for $310 million in cash, the companies said on Wednesday, confirming an earlier report the deal was imminent.”

What an interesting purchase. On one hand, I totally understand it. EBay acquired the largest in a field that they weren’t themselves. What I don’t understand is the love of the secondary ticketing market. But then I am a “primary ticketing” guy, being a founder of Ticketmaster.com, etc.

Michael Arrington has said it very well in his posting on TechCrunch. Just look at the title he uses, “…Dirty World of Ticket Scalping”.

There is no doubt that the scalping world and secondary ticketing market is shady, and that’s being polite. What the internet has done for these worlds is shown some light on them, but does that make them legit?

The other thing that really comes into question for me is how long these businesses are going to last (the electronic secondary market that is)? I am obviously very familiar with a Ticketmaster contract, having negotiated a few in my day :-). Basically what it says is that Ticketmaster is the exclusive computerized ticketing source. Not to mention the rules printed on the back of a season ticket (which are often sold in the secondary market), which often states that it can’t be resold.

One of these days, contracts/rules, etc. are going to be enforced and there are going to be a lot of invalidated tickets out there. There are going to be a lot of very angry customers. And legitimate businesses that were doing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue will be left with very little. The secondary market is a very, very fine line!!! (I need to write more about this…)

So was $310 million worth it? Sure was if you were on the StubHub side! And I know a lot of these guys too, it kills me. How many ticketing opportunities have I lost because of my “primary market ethics”…? Jerry Seltzer was my first boss at Ticketmaster, I know his parter as well. And when I developed the first commercial version of Ticketmaster Online, we used Starwave (we were both “Paul Allen companies”) and I met with Mike Slade just about every Wednesday for almost a year. They would have been good coat tails to ride… :-). Chalk that up as a learning experience!

So congrats to the StubHub guys for making a lot of money with a good idea and great execution! To eBay, I say congrats too, and good luck… 🙂