Welcome, Jump! A Win-Win-Win for Fans, Teams, and Venues
Jump's $20M fundraise to help fuel the magic of live events
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By Brian O’Malley, Managing Partner
This week, we shared that we’re welcoming Jump to the Forerunner portfolio and leading their $20M recent fundraise. Jump’s mission is inherently energizing. They are reshaping the fan experience by creating a new category within the massive, widely-ridiculed ticketing industry to help fuel the magic of live events.
At Forerunner, we see live events as an increasingly important part of consumers’ social fabric, as people crave community and seek out passions-aligned experiences for connection. But unfortunately, the experience surrounding these events is plagued with complicated purchasing processes and inflated prices. Archaic systems are frequently gamed by brokers & bots, sidelining true fans leaving them left out and frustrated.
In 2015, I led the Seed round for Gametime in a prior investing role. The thesis was similar, but the approach was different. How can you leverage unsold and underutilized inventory to grant affordable, last minute access to people who want to be there in the middle of the action? While Gametime’s execution has been nothing short of impressive, becoming a scalable, profitable business as one of the largest secondary marketplaces, the company was always constrained operating within the existing, underlying infrastructure. The idea of circumventing the legacy ticketing systems seemed impossible.
This unfortunate dynamic led me to want to write off the ticketing industry, despite its size (around $50B) and prevailing negative sentiment (the standard NPS hovers around negative 58). It wasn’t until we reconnected with a former Forerunner founder, Jordy Leiser, that I thought again about this market — and most of those thoughts were designed to try and talk him out of pursuing it!
But, Jordy ended up convincing me otherwise. The Live Events industry has changed. As seen with the Taylor Swift ticket debacle, people are starting to pay attention to the underlying consumer friction. There is also greater competition for fan attention, so ownership groups are starting to be more creative about driving attendance. With the right people around the table, it feels like we’re at a uniquely opportune time to finally impact in an industry that’s been severely overdue for change.
Jordy understood the importance of early case studies in order to validate his thesis. He teamed up with fellow Forerunner alum, Marc Lore, who had been a longtime friend & mentor to him. Marc, and his business partner Alex Rodriguez, are not just historic leaders in their own industries — they are part owners of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They represent a broader trend in ownership groups becoming both younger and more tech-savvy. Through his time building Diapers.com, Jet and now Wonder, Marc has reshaped categories through the flexibility of dynamic pricing, flexible inventory and creative bundling. These tools are available across all facets of online commerce, but have not been implemented in the sports business in a meaningful way.
Now, Jump is injecting fresh energy into the fan experience by introducing real-time dynamic ticketing, which includes novel approaches to pricing, packaging, and promoting tickets — something that’s been impossible to do with legacy systems. To start, the platform will enable consumers to buy access to seats that free up when people leave midway through a game, so they can snag an incredible last-quarter view and bring teams and fans closer together (literally and figuratively). Fans that are already at the game get alerts when better seats become available, and pricing moves based on the demand in a reverse auction format. With more flexible and unique approaches to the fan experience on the way, Jump is reducing friction between teams and their fans and delighting consumers at every turn.
Building in the live event and ticketing industry isn’t for the faint of heart. The path ahead for the Jump is highly ambitious, and it’s one that’s only fit for leaders as accomplished and bold as Jump’s Co-founders. Without them leading the charge, it would have been near-impossible to invest in this category, but we’re thrilled to partner with them on their clear mission: fueling the magic of the live event experience.
What the team is talking about on Slack
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Some content creators are filing taxes for the first time—and it’s intimidating (even with tips from #taxtok). Because their incomes fluctuate so much month to month from different sources in addition to having unconventional business expenses (ring lights, eyeshadow kits), many creators are worried that the average CPA isn’t savvy enough to handle their complex taxes. A new industry of accountants keen to the needs of creators is stepping up to fill in the gap.
Gen Z doesn’t really care about learning to drive. In 1997, 43% of 16-year-olds and 62% of 17-year-olds had driver’s licenses. In 2020, those numbers decreased to 25% and 45%. A few reported reasons for the ambivalence: anxiety about accidents, the high cost of cars and insurance, and environmental concerns. Gen Z also does most of their socializing online. When they do want to get around, they mostly opt for ride-sharing, e-bikes, or public transportation. Is getting a driver’s license another adulthood milestone this generation is putting off, like marriage or buying a house — and is it a trend that’s here to stay? Funnily enough, there’s also a resurgence of the stick shift going on.
“25 hours is the new 35” — for working hours, that is. Americans who are working part-time increased by 1.2 million in December and January—857,000 of those workers are part-timers by choice. Burnout is one of the biggest factors driving the change, but other reasons are retirees taking on jobs to supplement inflation costs, caregivers, and those dealing with health issues. “It’s partly mental health, partly people making different priorities in their lives.”
A new Gallup poll says U.S. consumers do not trust retailers as much as they used to — and the same goes for most public institutions, such as the police, medical system, organized religion, public schools, and banks. Potential factors could be more access to information about business practices (cultural to operational) and social media’s role in amplifying criticism, as well as retailers’ inability to keep up with Gen Z and Millennial demands for commitments to social responsibility.
Two weeks ago, we discussed the CDC’s jarring findings on the high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among girls and LBGTQ+ youth. There’s been a lot of debate on what could be the cause (for starters, here and here). While the link to social media may seem obvious, the research (that exists so far, at least) doesn’t completely back that up. The Atlantic digs deeper into the issues that teens are grappling with, suggesting that the root causes are much more varied than one might think.
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Millennials are drowning in debt and feel they are “going nowhere” according to WSJ. The average credit-card balance for borrowers in their 30s was about $6,750 in January, up 26% from three years earlier. Younger borrowers are falling behind on their car payments at higher rates than other age groups, and they also owe the most student debt. “For Americans in their 30s, balances hit more than $3.8 trillion in the fourth quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a 27% jump from late 2019. That is the steepest increase of any age group. It is also their fastest pace of debt accumulation over a three-year period since the 2008 financial crisis.”
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Bloomberg covered Jump’s $20M funding, along with Axios and Sports Business Journal.
Anthony Santomo, CEO of Ampla, offers strategies for shoring up your brand’s finances in Fast Company.
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Loved01, the new beauty product brand which John Legend developed in partnership with A-frame, is covered in The Financial Times and Fast Company.
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Bob Vila calls Sunday an excellent choice “for those looking to DIY their lawn care but who might not know the best treatment plan.”
The Expert’s Leo Seigal, co-founder and CEO, is included in CNBC’s story on virtual design services that are bridging the gap for consumers who don’t have access to interior design firms.
Cleo and Fora are on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, in the Wellness and Travel categories, respectively.
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