Greg Patterson and his small band of self-proclaimed nerds built what they describe as the best applications for event promoters to manage booking acts and ticketing customers, but they didn’t have the capital to promote their software in an ultra-competitive market space.
That’s why Patterson decided in December to sell the assets of his company, Queue, to San Francisco-based Eventbrite. The deal closed last Thursday, but Patterson’s team will continue to work out of offices in Old Sacramento. The price was not disclosed.
“We were exploring how we can partner or affiliate or get some leverage for our tool,” Patterson said. “The more that we talked with Eventbrite, the more we felt like … their philosophy and approach to solving problems and our philosophy and approach to solving problems were similar. A merger became a natural sort of direction and discussion.”
If you don’t book or promote shows, festivals and events, you probably haven’t heard of Queue. Patterson was running two artist services companies in Sacramento, Ground(ctrl) and Wonderful Union, when he stumbled upon the idea for Queue.
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What happens in the industry, he explained, is that an entertainer’s agent will call and say they might want to play a venue. It’s called a hold. A promoter or a venue operator has to juggle all the holds and confirmations. Patterson started out by creating tools for his own team but quickly saw that the process was inefficient for everyone in the industry.
“Before we started building this product, people were using a lot of tools that weren’t really designed for them,” Patterson said. “They were duct-taping a solution together between Google documents and Google calendar or whatever calendar organization they were using.”
Once the show booked, Patterson said, the promoters and venue managers typically had to re-enter the information into another system that managed ticket sales for the public. Queue created tools that not only made scheduling easier but also automatically funneled those dates into the ticketing system and then provided an app to manage the will-call process at the gate.
Patterson, who is 38, told me that he has been working in the music industry since he started managing concerts for the city of Vacaville at age 17. After that, he did graphic design, photography and album layouts for Tooth & Nail Records in Seattle. Later at age 23, he went on the road with friends in the band Papa Roach, taking their tour photos and managing their website.
Patterson researched and developed Queue for two years, starting in 2010, by putting his scheduling tool in the hands of promoters he knew. They quickly began asking for additions and modifications, and that led to a streamlined product that Patterson introduced in 2012 at the massive South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
Patterson initially planned only a party, but the New York management of The Fader magazine asked him if they could use the software to manage ticketing for their event, Fader Fort, where some of the biggest names in music played annually.
“Before we took over, people waited two or three hours to pick up their wristbands,” Patterson said. “When we took it over, we cut that down to 20, 30, 45 minutes. We’ve done it every year since. It ended up being this great way to showcase the technology. ... We do about 20 or 30 events at SXSW now.”
These days, Queue has customers around the country – Denver, Brooklyn, Chicago, Austin, and of course, here in Sacramento. The appeal of Queue is conveyed in their tagline: “One process. One password. One platform.”
David Richardson, a partner in DLA Piper’s Sacramento law office, helped Patterson negotiate the business and legal terms of the deal. Richardson said Queue had attracted interest from a number of larger firms after it began expanding sales. Leaders of Eventbrite said they plan to integrate Queue’s applications into their web platform and mobile box office solution, Eventbrite Neon, later this year.