A new beginning - Vivid Seats
The decision to leave WE in the first quarter of 2020 was a tough one for a few reasons. It was a place that gave me a lot of life purpose, and it was an opportunity to work with some incredible people along the way. WE was a place that I got to really expand my wings; it was a place where I had the opportunity to influence not only the technology but also had a voice in helping shape the direction that we were taking. A large part of what enabled me to have a voice at the executive table was that I was surrounded by a team and peers that were brilliant, as well as a manager who was incredibly supportive and dared to do things differently. After a short stint at ThoughtWorks, I was very excited to receive the offer to join Vivid Seats in the first week of December.
What is Vivid Seats?
Vivid Seats is a robust 20-year-old secondary ticketing marketplace business. Our goal is to be a trusted partner to connect people with experiences. Our key differentiator is our commitment to earning our customer's trust by having the most responsive customer service team in the industry. Before the pandemic, we were a $1.5B per year business, and we've taken the opportunity to aggressively invest in our technology to enable us to better serve our customers. We have early indicators that there is massive pent-up demand for entertainment.
What excites me over Vivid Seats?
Vivid Seats is a four-quadrant business where we provide for both the buy-side and sell-side of the ticketing market, and we also serve the customer and broker market. To help our customers, we run a consumer marketplace and two different SaaS platforms for our professional customers. It is rare to work in a product company with a vibrant market and a robust SaaS business. While they have two very diverse products, they are both designed to solve the customer need, maximizing the choice our customers have in terms of their entertainment wants.
Given the size of our business, we have a core platform built on Java because it needs to be robust and performant. Still, we are actively modernizing our customer-facing layers by leveraging NodeJS and Python for our middleware layer and React as our core frontend technology. We're heavily invested in modern engineering principles such as Continuous Delivery, loosely coupled components deployed in the cloud and event-driven architectures.
I've appreciated most about my Vivid Seats journey though it is about our philosophy surrounding people. Many companies often speak about people and culture being important, but I love that Vivid Seats is very intentional about its people strategies. While we talked a lot about my technology and delivery background during my interviews, we also spent a significant amount of time on my leadership experience and how I would guide and grow the team. I was also incredibly impressed by how they handled people's evaluations. Vivid Seats does it as a collection of peers. What stood out was that people actively advocated for members of other teams and provided constructive feedback for people's evaluations.
The other thing that I've been really excited about working here is the investment in discipline because there is a common understanding that to go fast, there has to be a certain level of discipline that exists to scale on top of it. All the niceties of tooling will not replace the people and structure to build on top of.
What excites me about my role?
While the business, the technology and the way Vivid Seats operates really excites me, the thing that continually inspires me the most at a company has always been the people I work with because it is the foundation of any good company. With the right people at its core, an organization can quickly adapt its business, technology and philosophies to respond to market needs.
While my orientation has been quick, my onboarding has been very focused. There has been a lot of investment in giving me the context and the necessary space to find my voice. I feel that I have an opportunity to be part of both the business and the technology. The best part is that this behaviour isn't done uniquely for me. The leaders want the team to feel empowered and have ownership of the organization's direction. We are actively working on giving the team the information, autonomy, and accountability.
At the core of it, I have a manager that I deeply respect and continue to learn from. Jon Wagner is someone who treats me like a partner and not a subordinate. He is very invested in my success and with me as an individual. I have a peer group that works well together. We are driven by the same goals and will partner together to accomplish them without letting egos get in the way. I'm very excited about the team that I inherited. They are highly talented and capable, and with the potential to even go farther.
I've been incredibly happy here at Vivid Seats as it hits all the important points for me as an individual. We have ambitious plans to grow this business and what we have isn't where we want it to be. Vivid Seats is a high volume, high growth business. We have a series of complementary products. The business is complex enough to make both the problem and technology interesting. But most importantly, our focus on people is much more than lip service which is critical to scale the business on.