Peloton Technology

Why companies struggle to profit off the "experience economy"

party balloons that spell MEH
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Eventbrite was one of the hottest IPOs of 2018. After pricing at $23, it closed up 60% at $36.50, giving the ticketing company a valuation of $2.8 billion. Today, just over 6 months later, the stock is languishing below its IPO price, at $18.41, and well over a billion dollars' worth of market value has evaporated.

The big picture: Eventbrite was sold as a way to bet on a booming "experience economy." The intuition: Companies that can deliver real-life experiences have real value in a world increasingly intermediated by smartphone screens. The problem: Companies are having difficulty turning that intuition into stable profits.

The unicorn bucket challenge

Unicorn with horn going through money
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Venture capital is about to get its own bucket challenge, in the form of unicorn IPOs.

For years now, growth equity valuations have been decoupled from the public markets. Not just on a longer lag, but totally untethered. Even that listed SaaS slump from a few years back didn't really make a dent on relevant valuations for Series C-Series Z rounds.