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SeatGeek Discussed a Sale to Live Nation Before Grabbing $35 Million Investment

Talks broke down over price.

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Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

SeatGeek, a startup that runs a comparison site for concert and sports tickets, discussed a possible sale to Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation earlier this year, multiple sources told Re/code.

The two sides met multiple times, but the talks did not lead to a deal and SeatGeek instead raised a $35 million investment from Accel Partners and a handful of athletes including Peyton and Eli Manning.

Sources said the two sides could not agree on a price, in part because of SeatGeek’s current business model. The New York City-based startup displays tickets from a variety of different online ticket sellers, but does not typically sell these tickets itself. Instead, it redirects its users to other sites to purchase the tickets they find on SeatGeek. As a result, SeatGeek only keeps a fraction of the ticket price when one of its users clicks over to, or completes a purchase on, one of the other ticket-buying sites.

A Live Nation spokeswoman and SeatGeek co-founder Jack Groetzinger declined to comment.

Founded in 2009, SeatGeek’s website lets ticket seekers search for, and compare, ticket prices from a variety of ticket-selling websites. In some ways, it appears to do for the ticket industry what Kayak did for the travel industry: Comb the Internet for ticket prices from a variety of disparate sites and let customers search for them in one spot. SeatGeek’s site also shows seating charts for events and displays photos that show what the view of the event from a certain seat will look like.

SeatGeek’s referral fees had generated revenue of around $10 million in 2014 through August, Groetzinger previously told Re/code.

It’s not uncommon for startups to discuss potential acquisitions while simultaneously talking to investors about raising a venture capital investment instead. Interest from a potential acquirer can give a startup leverage when negotiating financial terms with a venture capitalist, or vice versa.

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