Live events have returned with a vengeance.
Eventbrite (EB), which focuses on small, localized gatherings, transacted nearly 73 million free and paid tickets across 1.5 million events in the second quarter, serving over 370,000 creators around the world.
"Demand is rising to an unprecedented level," Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz said in a new interview with Yahoo Finance.
The platform grew 43% in the second quarter and revenue soared to $66 million, according to Hartz. Yet, despite the increased demand, the company has struggled to turn a profit, and the stock is down more than 65% year-to-date.
Hartz defended the company's position, noting that the platform is incredibly focused on growth.
"Eventbrite is an incredibly stronger company than it was in 2019 — we're a growth company," she said. "But we also want to be a cash generator. We're going to be incredibly focused on top-line growth, but also living within our means."
The executive pointed to Eventbrite's recently rolled out ads feature, which gives creators the ability to promote their event to a high-intent audience while also upping profits and margins.
Additionally, the company went through a massive reset during COVID-19, laying off half of its workforce with Hartz herself taking a pay cut.
By drastically scaling down its corporate operations, Eventbrite has been able to realign its business model and generate positive adjusted EBITDA for four-straight quarters.
The demand for live events should help fuel that top-line momentum. In-person gatherings make up about 96% of site searches on Eventbrite — up from last year's 73%.
Still, Hartz was quick to also call out the benefits of pandemic-era trends.
"The ability to be in an experience virtually has opened up, not only access for people around the world to great content, but also an opportunity for event creators," she said.
Eventbrite has seen a shift in consumer preferences when it comes to the type of events users choose to attend.
"People are being really intentional about how they want to spend their time and are seeking out higher quality, more intimate events versus large formats," Hartz said. "There's a high intent to join a community and create a connection that is more consistent."
'Social contract' keeps ticket prices low
Although stadium tours and other large-scale events have faced skyrocketing prices amid increased demand, Eventbrite ticket prices — which boast an average transaction fee of 5% — have remained surprisingly low. Average prices on the platform sell for less than $40 per ticket.
"Our creators do not want to raise their prices because they have a social contract with their community," Hartz explained, noting that entrepreneurial creators are finding other ways to increase revenue to cover production costs, such as exploring sponsorship opportunities. "By and large, our creators are focused on keeping the ticket price accessible."
And although the executive maintains that the company's more intimate operations created a competitive advantage, investors have questioned whether or not Eventbrite is leaving money on the table by not hosting large-scale events.
"We play in a really, really big middle market... Last time we sized it, it was $3.5 billion," Hartz said. "We're focused on particularly frequent creators who are using Eventbrite like an operating system — creators who already have a community and content that works."
However, the executive admitted that it's "always so alluring" to go bigger.
Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at email@example.com