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CALIFORNIA

Investors Put $30 Million More Into Tickets.com

April 06, 1999|JONATHAN GAW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pop star Michael Jackson and the world's largest sports-marketing agency are among the investors putting an additional $30 million into Newport Beach-based Tickets.com Inc., the online event-ticketing company said Monday.

The latest infusion of cash brings to $73 million the amount of venture capital financing the 14-year-old online ticket agency has raised. It comes as the company attempts to carve out its place in a field dominated by Ticketmaster Corp.

Tickets.com also said Monday that it has acquired two other companies that develop ticketing technology.

"This continues our roll-up of ticketing software companies and helps us gain the critical mass of venues signed up," said James Caccavo, president of Internet operations at Tickets.com.

The acquisitions of TicketsLive Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y., and TicketStop Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., bring Tickets.com's total number of employees to 760. None of the 160 new employees will move to Southern California. It is unclear whether there will be any subsequent layoffs because of the acquisitions, the company said.

The new funding comes from investors such as Jackson International and IMG/Chase Sports Capital Partners, which is backed by sports-marketing titan International Management Group. Other investors, all of whom have invested in Tickets.com before, include General Atlantic Partners, Attractor, Moore Capital Management, Idealab Capital Partners and Bayview Investors.

So far, Tickets.com has concentrated on enlarging the number of arts and entertainment venues that use ticketing agencies, signing up small and medium-sized facilities and leaving the Madison Square Gardens to Ticketmaster.

"Our primary focus today is not to go after Ticketmaster venues," said Caccavo, who sees a larger market for his company in fine-arts arenas, universities, minor league sports, and family attractions such as zoos and museums.

The acquisitions come as Tickets.com itself is in a merger process with Newport Beach-based Advantix Inc. In January, Advantix announced it was merging with Tickets.com as part of an all-stock deal, with the emerging company keeping Advantix's headquarters and its chief executive and president, W. Thomas Gimple, but taking on the Tickets.com name. That merger is to be completed in May.

Rapid-fire acquisitions are not new for Advantix. Besides TicketsLive and TicketStop, the company has bought five other companies since 1996. It still has a long way to go before it can loosen Ticketmaster's grip on the industry. Ticketmaster's dominance has led several performers to complain about high service fees.

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