In September of 2012 I wrote about an event ticketing startup called Picatic for the first time on Techvibes.
The company had landed itself with Extreme Startups in Toronto and was launching a crowdfunding platform called EventTilt.
Crowdsourcing was all the rage at the time and their new platform was guaranteeing successful events by completely eliminating risk for event organizers.
Born in Saskatoon, Picatic spent six months in San Francisco at Rocket Space before arriving in Toronto. Next stop was a three-month stint in New York at the Canadian Technology Accelerator before heading back to Saskatoon to regroup.
After a whirlwind year with address changes from Silicon Valley to Hogtown to Silicon Alley, Picatic chose to permanently relocate their six-person company in Vancouver.
But why Vancouver? I had to find out, so I reached out to Picatic co-founder Jayesh Parmar and here is what he told me in May of 2013.
“We know that startups are most likely going to be a marathon and not a sprint, so we chose a Canadian city where we want to live for the next five to 10 years with great engineering talent, good local VC’s, and a good startup community,” Parmar explained.
Over the next five years Jay and I connected every time Picatic launched a new feature. During all of our conversations, I would ask about the 800-pound gorilla in his industry, Eventbrite, and his response was always the same.
“We are not happy just being a player in the game,” Parmar told me in 2014. “We are looking to dominate the ticket space.”
And that was the game plan that Picatic followed. Undercutting the competition on price with innovative products and superior customer service.
Jay always viewed Eventbrite as a direct competitor but because of their sheer size alone we all knew that they could be an acquirer some day.
That day came in 2018 when Eventbrite announced that they had acquired Picatic.
In a celebratory blog post, Parmar outlined how the two companies had a very similar culture, mission and vision. He went on to explain how the acquisition would help accelerate Picatic’s value to their customers and deliver an overall more cohesive product.
With the acquisition there would be no immediate changes to the Picatic platform and his team would stay in Vancouver. “We’re excited to share our talented development community and have a broader impact in the Canadian market and beyond,” Parmar wrote.
Parmar and his Picatic team had found the perfect partner.
Eventbrite CEO and co-founder Julia Hartz commented on how the new acquisition would help strengthen the company’s ties to Vancouver and the rest of Canada as an emerging tech hub.
“Picatic shares our mission of bringing the world together through live experiences and we are particularly inspired by their commitment to empowering purpose-driven creators to drive positive change in their communities,” said Hartz. “Their passionate team includes some of Vancouver’s most skilled developers, and we’re thrilled to bring even more technical talent to our global workforce through this union.”
Fast forward to 2020.
As the crisis around COVID-19 pandemic grew and events large and small were forced to cancel, it became very evident that the event management industry would be among that hardest hit.
Two weeks ago, Eventbrite announced during a company-wide meeting that they would be letting go of 500 employees worldwide.
“To ensure the long-term durability of our mission, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our global workforce by 45 percent. This is a harsh reality to face and we are saddened to see many of our team members depart the company,” an Eventbrite spokesperson wrote.
At the time, I suspected that Eventbrite’s Canadian outpost might be one of the casualties and Parmar confirmed it last week on LinkedIn.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Parmar’s primary concern at this time is the well-being of his team.
“Our special sauce was our people, they gave their heart and souls,” Parmar told me over the weekend. “I won’t be happy until I know that our team has landed new placements, until then, I will do everything in my power to help them find new jobs.”
Based on the supportive comments on LinkedIn, and Parmar’s extensive local network, I suspect that Eventbrite’s Vancouver team [Google Sheet] will be snapped up quickly and sprinkled across Vancouver’s ecosystem.