Julia Hartz, the chief executive of the world’s biggest online event platform Eventbrite, says Silicon Valley has a culture problem and its venture capitalists are to blame.
Citing the likes of Uber, Ms Hartz says while the valley is still a hub of innovation there are deep-seated cultural issues at play and it’s the VC industry that should largely shoulder the blame as they undermine an ongoing push for a more inclusive environment in tech, especially for women.
“Being a female CEO of a company I built I feel the support of Eventbrite’s investors, board and Silicon Valley at large; but there’s not one part of me that would tell you there’s not a problem,” she told The Australian.
“Great leadership and great companies aren’t built overnight and they’re not built without capital. And capital can sometimes be counter-productive to building a great culture.”
Ms Hartz, whose husband and Eventbrite co-founder Kevin Hartz is an early investor in Uber, said Silicon Valley’s culture problem lay largely with the capital sources who splashed money around without asking the right questions.
“There’s billions of dollars of capital being pumped into a company, and yet no one stops to think, wait they need stronger leadership, or moral authority,” she said.
“That would make a huge difference for younger companies, to have the emphasis on building sustainable cultures bolstered by great leadership.
“I think having a visionary CEO is awesome, and visionary leadership is one thing, but you also need checks and balances on whether this company can withstand a very honest and critical look at itself.”
Ms Hartz said she was not close to Uber or its chief Travis Kalanick, so didn’t have insight into the company’s inner workings, but said change was needed across the board. Ms Hartz said whether it was Amazon, Netflix or Facebook, each had had their zeitgeist moment for defining what its company culture would look like.
“If you look at the giants there has been a huge emphasis on culture that happened somewhere along the line. And maybe this is that moment for Uber,” she said.
Eventbrite has been in Australia since 2014, and Ms Hartz said the time had come to expand to New Zealand. The company is sending one of its marketing managers, Brad McIntyre, from Australia back to his homeland New Zealand to lead local operations there. “When we think about expanding we think about three factors. Firstly the team, do we have the right talent who can hit the ground running, and Brad has gone over to take the challenge. That’s the leading factor for us,” Ms Hartz said.
“The second thing is do we see organic traction? Last year we sold 144 million tickets in 180 countries, so we have this really interesting data set to show us what’s happening organically in the market. And then there’s the competitive set, so will it be a knockdown fight for us to get market share?”
Ms Hartz, who said her company was in talks to be the ticketing partner for the disastrous Fyre festival before pulling out, said despite Eventbrite’s unicorn status it was still early days for its vision of being the “marketplace for live experiences”.
“We know that hasn’t happened on a global scale,” she said.
“We want organisers to sell more tickets because of the network effect we can offer, and fostering growth for organisers while putting the right events in front of the right consumers. We’ve raised $US200 million ($270m) to date, with most of it still in the bank and we’re profitable.”
Reader comments on this site are moderated before publication to promote lively and civil debate. We encourage your comments but submitting one does not guarantee publication. We publish hundreds of comments daily, and if a comment is rejected it is likely because it does not meet with our comment guidelines, which you can read here. No correspondence will be entered into if a comment is declined.