Ticket Provider Changes [Updates]

Maybe someone at Mashable is further up the mailing list chain in the mighty Jacked Rabbit database than we are. Anyway, from about 15 minutes ago, here’s a morsel of ticket news that has leaked out (if you know anything more, please share). Burning Man has changed ticketing providers, and now Ticketfly will be managing the lottery, STEP program, or whatever other crazy gimmicks BMOrg want to implement this year.

The annual counterculture art festival in the Black Rock desert of Nevada, Burning Man, is a home away from home for many tech companies. (Google has a major presence, and has been known to hire CEOs on the basis of their attendance). Now, Mashable has learned, the Burning Man organization is about to hand over its sales operation to another tech company: Ticketfly.

“We are in the business of providing ticketing and other technology for live events, and there is no more notable live event in the world than Burning Man,” says Andrew Dreskin, Ticketfly’s co-founder and CEO. “I was part of the team that first brought Burning Man’s ticketing online in the 1990s, so it’s a homecoming of sorts for me.”

goldenticketThe Burning Man organization has been subject to a lot of criticism in recent years over its ticketing operation. Its website is notorious for crashing when tickets go on sale; in 2012, the org (as attendees call it) declared it would dispense tickets on a lottery system — to the chagrin of artists and other longtime attendees.

Ticketfly, founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, has sold $500 million worth of tickets in its short lifetime. It’s on a tear, with 1,300 clients in the U.S. and Canada in 2013, a 33% jump from the previous year.

But it’s just that sort of commercial success that can be anathema to the average Burner. The event has several long-held tenets, one of which is that there is no branding allowed at the festival itself. Even the suggestion of a commercial connection can irk attendees. The org’s decision to allow green energy companies to showcase their wares at the 2007 festival— even without logos or literature — was met with howls of protest from Burners.

But the Burning Man organization, which recently converted from a for-profit LLC to a non-profit, believes that the positive effect of a working ticket system will outweigh any negatives. “We are excited about the robustness of [Ticketfly’s] system,” reads the announcement in the Burning Man newsletter Jack Rabbit Speaks, “and their commitment to superior customer service.”

Many of the Ticketfly team are Burners, who worked on the first electronic tickets sold to Burning Man. Founder Andrew Dreskin, playa name “Ice Man”, had this to say:

It’s on days like today that I am reminded how much I love what I do.

Ticketfly and Burning Man have entered into a ticketing and technology partnership. This is a homecoming of sorts for me and other members of the Ticketfly team. We were part of the team that first brought Burning Man’s ticketing online in the 90s when we were running TicketWeb. As you can imagine, it is very special for us to again be working with our friends at Burning Man.

I first met Larry, Marian, and the rest of the Burning Man brain trust about 15 years ago. My partner Rick Tyler and I were summoned to a meeting in Oakland with the Burning Man organizers. We came prepared to talk technology, but the meeting was less about software, and more a discussion of ethos. It became apparent pretty quickly that there was commonality in how we viewed the world.

We sold Burning Man’s first online ticket in 1998, and continued to do so for several years thereafter. I experienced my first Burn that year, and have been to the event numerous times since. I consider myself a Burner.

Reuniting with Burning Man has special meaning for us at Ticketfly. Ticketfly is home to numerous Burners, including folks who worked on Burning Man’s ticketing in the early days and others who have been part of the on-site team over the past few years. Ticketfly’s mission is to deliver the most innovative technology platform for live events. There is arguably no more special and notable live event in the world than Burning Man.

Working with Burning Man comes with great responsibility. Anyone who has been to Burning Man knows that the culture and all it represents must be respected and protected. We are 100 percent committed to being good stewards of the event and all that it stands for.

Building the software that powers Burning Man’s ticketing and its other technology functions is a monumental task. In just months, Ticketfly is building technology that addresses the unique needs of the event and lays the foundation for future innovation. I can’t promise we will be perfect. However, I can tell you that we will work our asses off to ensure Burning Man has the best technology in the world and the tools it needs to scale into the future.

See you in Black Rock City,

Andrew Dreskin (aka “Iceman” on playa)
Co-founder, Ticketfly

13 comments on “Ticket Provider Changes [Updates]

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  5. I have yet to go to burning man, I am making plans this year. I will be traveling across the country and spending a large amount of money to do so. I must say that I am very hesitant to do so, at this point. In the beginnings of my research, I’ve come to find that everything is up in the air about this festival. Ticket lotteries, denied entry due to over-selling, no hard prices or dates on websites… I’m all for jumping down the rabbit hole to a nomadic dreamland with my burner family- but when I come back I still have to pay rent.

    Can anyone help me get answers or solid lines on this thing? I’ve been saving for a year and I would hate for something like the disorganization of a multi-thousand dollar event to cause me to miss out on the experience of a lifetime.

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  6. Since this is about tickets, perhaps someone could shed some light on a problem.
    I had an extra ticket i was not going to use last year, so I put it into the ticket selling program (don’t recall at this moment what that was called) but never got a refund. Is it possible it was not sold ???, even though on stage that year Larry Harvey said that the population had reached allowed capacity and “vendors” had to wait for another vendor to exit before entering.
    The selling back method seemed to be straight forward – I put my burner registered name in, it found my two tickets and I picked the one I was not going to use, the system then brought up the last 4 of my credit card and asked if that was how I wanted the refund. Seemed simple but never heard back. After a couple of months I made an inquiry through website designed for ticket inquires, got an an automated response. Waited a month and replied to the automated response, nothing resulted from that.
    Any suggestions?
    Lionman (Reese Forbes)

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  8. And the real world economy continues to force Burning Man to play by its implacable rules. I love the barter economy of the playa, the lack of kiosks, vendor booths, and assorted carnies and hucksters, but that isn’t how the real (default?) world works and hasn’t since the Roman Republic. So how do we preserve the beautiful mirage that materializes for one week in the wilderness, while leveraging the real world of steel, oil, and farmers’ soil to make it happen.

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