SeatGeek has entered into a business combination agreement with special purpose acquisition company RedBall Acquisition Corp to take the mobile-focused ticketing technology platform public. 

The deal values the combined company, which will continue to trade as SeatGeek, at $1.35bn and is expected to complete in early 2022.

The current owners of SeatGeek – whose partners include leading US major league teams and English Premier League clubs – will hold approximately 63.5% of the combined company, with RedBall shareholders to take around 28.5%.

New York-listed RedBall is a $575m (£422m/€499m) SPAC and is sponsored by an affiliate of RedBird Capital Partners, a private investment firm with over $5bn in assets across sports and live events. 

RedBird’s current and previous investments include On Location Experiences, Wasserman, Fenway Sports Group and the Indian Premier League’s Rajasthan Royals.

Jack Groetzinger, chief executive officer and co-founder of SeatGeek, said: “We’ve grown substantially in 2021, gaining in market share as the live entertainment industry recovers. That makes this a particularly exciting time to go public via this merger with RedBall. 

“Their significant experience and relationships in sports, live entertainment and ticketing makes RedBall the ideal partner for SeatGeek.” 

SeatGeek has exclusive ticketing partnerships with NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, NFL’s Dallas Cowboys as well as teams in the English Premier League including Liverpool and Manchester City. 

New York-based SeatGeek witnessed 70% compound annual growth from 2016 to 2019 and has expanded in the market since 2017. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic which halted live shows and events throughout 2020 and a proportion of 2021, SeatGeek has continued to grow. 

CEO of RedBall Alec Scheiner said: “We believe SeatGeek is truly the future of live event ticketing. SeatGeek’s technology, customer focus, brand and vertically integrated model align the needs of fans and rights holders, and differentiates SeatGeek from other industry players, as demonstrated by its impressive growth and share gain momentum. 

“Just as importantly, Jack and the SeatGeek team have built a proven and scalable growth model with compelling long-term margins. With additional capital and RedBall’s company building experience and relationships, we’re excited to help scale this visionary company.” 

The funds from RedBall are bolstered by strategic inventors. The Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) of $100m is led by SeatGeek investor Accel, founder and executive chairman of Qualtrics and owner of Smith Entertainment Group, Ryan Smith. 

John Locke, a partner at Accel, said: “Accel helps build tech companies that redefine categories. As long-time investors in SeatGeek, we know that their technology is transforming the live event industry, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue our partnership at this key inflection point.” 

Smith added: “I’m proud to become a part of the SeatGeek story at this key moment. As a team owner, I know how much opportunity there is to modernize the business around sports. With their incredible team and world-class technology, SeatGeek is poised to make a huge impact on our industry.”

Image: ActionVance on Unsplash