Ticket Search Engine SeatGeek Raises $35M Round From Accel And Some Big-Name Athletes

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SeatGeek, a company that bills itself as “the web’s largest ticket search engine”, is announcing that it has raised $35 million in Series B funding.

The round brought was led by Accel Capital, with Accel’s John Locke (whose previous investments include eBay-acquired payments company Braintree and Angry Birds-maker Rovio) joining the board of directors. Accel is a big name in the tech world, but the round includes investors who are more famous-famous, not just tech-famous, specifically athletes Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Shane Battier, and Mike Dunleavy Jr., as well as musician/entrepreneur/one-time TechCrunch columnist Nas.

Other investors include Causeway Media (led by Boston Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck), Melo7 Tech Partners, Stanford University Athletics, and Real Networks founder Rob Glaser (who’s also a partner at Accel). Previous backers Mousse Partners and Thomas Lerhman also participated in the new round, which brings the company’s total funding to around $41 million.

SeatGeek first launched at the TechCrunch50 conference in 2009, allowing users to search for tickets across resale sites like StubHub. The company says it expects to drive $13 million in ticket sales this month, and more than $160 million in sales this year.

Co-founder Jack Groetzinger told me that one of the main reasons for the funding is to accelerate development of SeatGeek’s mobile apps, which have grown to account for 70 percent of visits and 45 percent of all transactions (the iPhone app launched at the end of 2012). That includes improving the Android app so that it’s on-par with its iPhone counterpart, and making it easier to receive and use your ticket on your phone.

The other reason for the funding? Marketing. That’s an an area where SeatGeek wasn’t spending much until a year ago, Groetzinger said, but now, “We’ve finally found a scalable to acquire users. Part of the big goals of the Series B is to blow out the scale of that 10x from where it is right now.”

Groetzinger estimated that SeatGeek’s sales are probably split 60-40 between sports and music, respectively, but he said the company’s efforts are divided evenly between the two. For one thing, he suggested that music provides more opportunity for “the discovery use case” — i.e., just opening the app to see what’s happening nearby tonight.

“We’re not just trying to convert existing ticket buyers to SeatGeek,” he added. The company also aims to expand the audience for a given event: “We’re showing people events they didn’t know about, something they thought they couldn’t afford but actually can.”

[Image: Flickr/fdecomite]