Long-time Philly tech scene staple Ticketleap has been sold to Patron Technology, a brand-new holding company based out of NYC, in an acquisition/spinout combo that created a new company called Port.
As part of the move, CEO Tim Raybould — who became president and COO in 2013 after cofounder Chris Stanchak moved to San Diego — is stepping down to lead Port, which has a team of six and is backed by $750,000 in seed investment.
“We started talking in the spring,” Raybould said. “It seemed like a great match for Ticketleap, in a deal that would generate a nice return for investors. We were able to keep a good amount of upside in spinning out Port.”
Really happy to announce: Ticketleap has been purchased and my new startup, Port, is born!
— Tim Raybould (@timraybould) September 18, 2017
The deal is complex and has lots of moving parts, Ticketleap being just one of them, so let’s break this down a bit:
- Patron Technology was created as a holding company for two brands: ticketing platform PatronManager and event ticketing provider ShowClix. Are you starting to see a pattern?
- Former PatronManager CEO Eugene Carr and CFO Anupam Palit will lead the parent company, retaining their titles in the new leadership team.
- Patron Technology is itself a portfolio company of Providence Strategic Growth, a growth equity affiliate of Providence Equity, a Rhode Island equity firm.
- As it stands now, Ticketleap will run independently from the other brands in Patron Technology. It will be led by General Manager Chrisse Dragon.
Why sell now? A part of the decision had to do with venture capital, Raybold tells us.
“Ticketleap had close to 50 investors,” the exec said. “A lot of local people had money in Ticketleap, and the investments were a decade old, which is when you start to expect returns on your money. This gave investors a nice return and maintained the upside of the seed funding.”
The other part is generating enough funds to back Port, which will be housed in the same Center City offices as Ticketleap for now, using space the company had been subletting to other startups. Now, Port is that startup.
Mind you, there were some layoffs associated with the move.
Ticketleap’s staff was at 25 earlier this year and, out of the team of 12 that were working on Port’s first iteration, six were laid off. The remaining six that joined Port include Ticketleap’s former Chief Product Officer, Beah Burger-Lenehan, who’s now cofounder and president at Port. Former Senior Software Engineer at Ticketleap Nabin Mulepati, is now director of engineering at the burgeoning startup.
(The remaining digit in that quick headcount? Engineer Elise Wei, who left to pursue her next career move in Wellington, New Zealand.)
“At Ticketleap, the Port team was about 12,” Raybould said. “As an endeavor inside of a larger company that made sense but with a brand new startup it didn’t. A lot of those laid off have already found new homes and we’ve been helping as much as we could.”
(Helping relocate laid off staffers has been a tacit deal recently.)
What’s the new company’s pitch? Don’t confuse it with the “Port” that we saw at Out to Launch during Philly Tech Week 2017. The pitch has nothing to do with ticket sales but with helping bring the popular subscription model to offline businesses. The tech has simply been repurposed.
“It’s virtually non-existent in the real world,” Raybould said of the subscription model. “We want to help local shops with a neighborhood vibe to create subscription programs and get predictable recurring revenue.”
As for Ticketleap, no word yet if the parent company plans to merge the three brands or keep them as standalone companies in the long run.
“We’ve been fully acquired so anything can happen, but the three companies are very different,” said Sarah Lang, Ticketleap’s director of customer experience. “Ticketleap getting acquired by a larger company really feels like the next phase in Ticketleap. We’re ready to grow.”
The acquisition/spinout combo — or the “Philly shuffle,” as Stitch founder Jake Stein puts it — now has two examples in Philly tech, after RJMetrics was acquired in a similar deal in August 2016.
“One of my investors called it the Triple Lindy,” cofounder Bob Moore told us then of the model. “It’s threading the needle in such a way that you’re able to create a future that’s exciting without disrupting the universe you’re in, and being able to put capital into the new business without diluting shares.”
It also creates an interesting future for Ticketleap, as part of larger effort in the ticket tech space. Per Lang, the company is definitely staying in Philly.
“It’s not going to be a situation where you get acquired and then everyone leaves,” said Lang.
Asked if he’d have any links to Ticketleap going forward, former CEO Raybould said: “Tons of friendship, but that’s it.”
Knowledge is power!
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