Patron Technology is in a stronger position now than pre-COVID thanks to new investment from Vector Capital, according to chief executive Marc Jenkins.
Despite being hit hard since March when events began to be cancelled and postponed en masse — and the firm was forced to make layoffs earlier than most — Jenkins said Patron now has a much better capital structure and financial strength than it did pre-pandemic.
Jenkins (pictured below), head of the Pennsylvania-headquartered parent company of brands such as ShowClix, PatronManager and GrowTix, told TheTicketingBusiness that the firm currently has no debt and in Vector Capital has gained an investor “who sees value in business but bought it at a discount price due to the situation.”
Vector Capital, a leading global private equity firm specialising in transformational investments in established technology businesses, helped Patron to “clean up the capital table,” according to Jenkins, when it acquired a majority stake in the company and its suite of event technology solutions last month.
Jenkins said: “We have been having discussions with Vector for several years. They were interested in our growth and innovation, and have been following what we have accomplished over the past few years. Those conversations accelerated when COVID hit, but COVID was not the trigger.”
Jenkins also noted that in addition to the money Vector paid for its stake in the company, the investor put significant cash on the balance sheet that will “allow Patron to move forward from a position of strength.” There is stability too, with the firm’s entire management team and staff remaining in place following the acquisition to continue to operate the company on a day-to-day basis.
Jenkins told TheTicketingBusiness: “This investment provides the capital to not only survive years of a COVID-19 shut down, but to thrive in serving our clients with things like virtual events and meet and greets, cashless payments, etc. It will also allow us to continue robust investment in our current products, as they evolve to suit the changing needs of our clients.”
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Patron was able to pivot and develop a fully integrated virtual events solution with a suite of ticketing and experiential tools. The virtual tools enable event organisers to create an entire monetised online experience with secure, gated access and a host of engagement and community features, like in-stream chats, celebrity meet & greets, watch parties, in-app voting, gamification, and more.
As the live events sector continues to reel from the ongoing pandemic almost seven months down the line, Jenkins remains positive about the resilience and innovative nature of the industry. His own company is set up to absorb risk with live, virtual, and hybrid events and clients across conventions, sports properties, music, festivals, performing arts and attractions.
He said: “Collectively as an industry, I think we’ve discovered something that is going to be powerful going forward and indefinitely.
“Not just virtual events, which help talents scale and promoters scale, but I think meet and greets and ways to engage will continue to grow in a really robust way. Virtual events and meet and greets will become an adjunct to live events with clients wanting to engage the fans weeks before and after events.
“However, the bigger theme for our industry is that there are going to be these risks that come and bowl us over and we need to use technology to mitigate those risks and enhance what we’re doing.”
Patron Technology has made nine acquisitions since 2017 when it received a majority investment by Providence Strategic Growth (PSG). The firm has since consolidated its business to pool investment and provide a more comprehensive product.
Patron is currently working to help clients pivot and evolve their products and events to survive and thrive in this new environment. Looking ahead to a post-COVID world, Patron will aim to create a suite of tools that support its clients across several facets by building out its products and seeking new acquisitions.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the innovation in our industry,” Jenkins said. “How quickly people realised this was a whole new world and shifted. Ultimately, I think we’re all going to be significantly better coming out of this – hopefully to some enhanced version of where we were before.
“I think we’ve really proven the value of event brands and the demand for talent. Demand is not the problem for our industry – it’s supply. And I think we should all feel good about that. It’s proven out the value of what we collectively knew.”
Jenkins noted that Patron is starting to see some events in its verticals come back online, such as comedy clubs and pop-up museums, which he claims are starting to thrive again.
“These are things that keep me optimistic, though I do feel like our industry is still in difficult times,” he added.