February 10th, 2014
Mary Teresa Bitti, NATIONAL POST
When John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, better known as Monty Python, announced in November they would be hitting London’s O2 Arena for their first live show in 33 years, some 20,000 tickets sold out in just 43.5 seconds. While the announcement was big news globally, the company behind those seamless sales is decidedly low profile — at least among the general public.
Since its launch in 2006, Montreal-based Outbox Technology has become the ticket-selling tool of choice to the world’s top promoters, venues and artists and sells more than $1-billion worth of ticket sales each year on behalf of those clients. In 2013, it was named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology and communications category for its leadership in taking ticketing to another level.
The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Jean-Francoys Brousseau and Constance Raymond, Outbox Technology is their third venture and second wave technology in the ticketing space. This time, they are joined by two key shareholders/partners, Cirque du Soleil and AEG, as well as their three children — the two eldest, Isabelle and Pierre, work in Outbox Technology’s Los Angeles office in fraud prevention and product development, respectively; their youngest Eric is in Montreal overseeing the rollout of Outbox’s new onsite scanning devices as he finishes a degree in economics.
“We never set out to build a family business and our partners certainly don’t see it that way. They see it as an investment and growth opportunity. We are family centred and have grown into a corporate entity. We tread carefully to get the best of both worlds,” Mr. Brousseau said.
Their partners, both much larger multinational companies, benefit from the entrepreneurial spirit that drives Outbox and because of the business structure, which has no majority shareholder, the family avoids many of the conflicts typical when two or more generations of a family work together. “I think it’s interesting to see the children have gravitated to the business but it was never our expectation,” Mr. Brousseau said. “They happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Outbox had just launched its e-commerce site when Isabelle, a math major, graduated from university and was looking for an internship. “She jumped in, liked it and now she is a fraud prevention manager,” Mr. Brousseau said.
“Pierre was a more obvious fit because he’s a computer and math major. We were hiring a lot of people four years ago when he graduated and we gave him some projects. In each case, they proved they were capable. The shareholders were aware. There was no special treatment. If they weren’t good, then they’d have to go. They’re treated the same as all employees,” he said.
To ensure that remains the case, Pierre and Isabelle don’t report to either parent, but rather to their respective department heads. “It gives us distance and ensures there is no free pass,” Mr. Brousseau said. “The people that supervise them know they have free reign to manage them as they manage everyone else on their team.”
The couple also make sure to play to their individual strengths and divide duties accordingly. While it’s hard not to talk shop at the dinner table, the clear delineation of roles has served them well through their entry, exit and return to entrepreneurship.
Their first business, Microflex, launched in the 1980s as a hardware and software company focused on managing data. A young engineer, Mr. Brousseau started the company after a stint working in government. As Microflex grew, Ms. Raymond, came on board to manage the finances and recruitment and talent management. “We have always had different projects and we’ve always respected each other’s abilities,” she said.
“I knew he was doing the right thing. I have an architectural background so I’m able to put my organizational and team building skills to work to find motivated candidates with passion.”
That’s something Mr. Brousseau appreciates. “It’s hard to find and keep great people and she’s done that. She built the team quickly and makes sure everyone is happy and has the tools they need. I focus on the technical side.”
Microflex changed direction when the NHL’s now defunct Quebec Nordiques signed on as a client and asked them to manage season ticket sales. “We improvised a solution and within a few years ticketing became the sole focus,” Mr. Brousseau said.
Gradually, Microflex built a global client base and created a network to better compete with the Ticketrons and Ticketmasters of the world. They sold a system to Cirque du Soleil that worked so well, the entertainment company bought part of Microflex and together they formed Admission Network, which attracted clients such as the Montreal Expos, the old Forum and the Montreal Canadiens. The business model involved distributing tickets as well as licensing the underlying software. They sold both companies to Ticketmaster in 2000 at the height of the tech bubble.
“That was our exit strategy. It was the emergence of the Web and crazy valuations for technology companies and we realized what Ticketmaster offered was more than we could generate on our own,” Mr. Brousseau said.
“After 15 years, we thought maybe it was time to do something else. That turned out not to be true but we didn’t know that at the time.”
In 2005, Cirque du Soleil came calling. Its success meant it had 14 different companies selling its tickets worldwide, which created a marketing challenge. At the same time, its brand is so well known, it did not need a third-party brand like Ticketmaster to handle sales. “They asked us to create a one-stop shop for them and we partnered again,” Mr. Brousseau said.
“Outbox is a white label, an invisible brand. We offer our clients the ability to put their brand first. From a marketing perspective, that’s the big difference between the other offerings and ours.”
In short order, Ms. Raymond put together a team of young minds and Mr. Brousseau began creating a Web-based, new and improved technology that now features the signature interactive seat maps, 3D customized venue plans and one-page checkout. Former clients the Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre came back as did U.S.-based AEG. Outbox now has 125 employees in Montreal, Los Angeles, London and Stockholm.
Jacques Aubé, general manager of Quebec-based independent promoter and producer Evenko was one of those returning clients. One of its venues, the Bell Centre, was the first arena venue to use Outbox.
“We had been a client of the preceding Admission Network and enjoyed the personalized service and adaption of the software to meet our needs on the hockey side and the entertainment side,” he said. “When Outbox launched it offered the ultimate technology. The fact that it is a white label software was also attractive because it meant we could showcase our own brand.”
“We have moved beyond where we left off when we sold to Ticketmaster,” Mr. Brousseau said. “We’ve breathed fresh air into the non-sexy tasks of pricing and repricing seats and delivering tickets.”
November 25th, 2013
Robert Dex, THE INDEPENDENT
The veteran comedy troupe - John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones - announced they were getting back together last week.
A spokesman for the Pythons said the 1 July event sold out in 43.5 seconds this morning and tickets for four further shows had immediately gone on sale.
The concerts at the venue in Greenwich, southeast London, come more than 30 years after their last stage performance.
Speaking at last week's press conference, they said they would include some of their most famous routines including the dead parrot sketch.
Their last major live show was at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982.
October 31st, 2013
By The Outbox Team
October 31st, 2013
For 20 years the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award has rewarded entrepreneurs who are on the forefront of wealth and job creation, to help build a better working world for the people, their clients and our communities. The Entrepreneur Of The Year recognizes the spirit of entrepreneurialism that propels the economy in more than 50 countries.
This year, we’re extremely proud of Jean-Francoys Brousseau, our President, and Constance Raymond, our VP, who won the Entrepreneur Of The Year in the Technology and Communications category. This award represents their combined vision and innovation that has helped Outbox become a world-leader in high volume ticket sales for venues and shows over an easy-to-use technology platform, which brought ticketing to another level.
As Constance said in her acceptance speech, “There is no “I” in the word team, and there is a significant “U” in entrepreneur. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all of U."
Congratulations to Jean Francoys and Constance, from all of us at Outbox, for allowing us all to outthink, outperform, and outshine.
February 3rd, 2013
By Andrea Usher-Jones
You’re welcome AEG. No problem O2 Arena. It’s our pleasure Cirque de Soleil. No worries Evenko.
Now that the Pollstar 2012 rankings are out, do you know what these top promoters, venues and artists from all over the world have in common? They all have Outbox technology to thank when it comes to helping them sell their tickets.
Outbox offers the best ticket-selling tool in the world. With signature interactive seat maps, 3D customized venue plans, one page checkout – Outbox is key when it comes to helping their clients reach out, stand out and sell out. Quite simply, no one is better at making it easier and more seamless for the public to get the seats of their choice. And, as of February 1st 2013, the Staples Center in Los Angeles will benefit from the Outbox advantage.
Recent rankings prove that Outbox is a common underlying factor, or silent partner, in most of last year’s entertainment success stories. With AEG, The O2 Arena, Cirque de Soleil, The Bell Centre and Evenko as clients, it becomes clear that Outbox is the stroke behind their splash.
When it comes to integrated, specialized solutions, it’s clear that Outbox believes great clients need excellent solutions. Webshopper has been labeled the “best ticket-ordering interface ever”. Eventshopper is the on-line consumer purchasing power-tool for the busiest shows in some of the largest venues in the world. Outbox also provides non-transferrable, paperless ticketing, as requested for example, on AXS.com by The Lumineers at the Ogden, to ensure fans profited from the show, not scalpers. More commonplace at large venues, this ticket-selling technology transposed effortlessly and flawlessly to a smaller venue and is ready for a repeat performance.
Leave it to the producers, performers and the promoters to find and promote the talent, but clearly Outbox is a solid supplier of the brainpower behind the ticket sales. Outbox is happy to help its clients shine in the spotlight of the recent Pollstar rankings, and is a proud supporter of the music, the arts and, of course, the sales. Destined to stay out of the limelight, Outbox is perhaps both a global leader and a best-kept secret. So next time you sit back and enjoy the roar of the crowd, just remember Outbox technology could be responsible for filling every seat in the house.
January 20th, 2013
Montreal Gazette, January 20, 2013
The Bell Centre is the top arena in North America – and fifth worldwide – according to Pollstar, one of the industry’s leading trade publications.
Based on last year’s gross receipts of events, and covering venues with 15,001 to 30,000 seats, the Top 10 list places the Bell Centre below only London’s O2 arena, the Manchester Arena, Mexico’s Palacio De Los Deportes and Dublin’s O2 arena.
The Palais Omnisports de Bercy in Paris and the Staples Center in Los Angeles ranked at Nos. 6 and 7. The O2 arena in Hamburg and Berlin were at Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, with the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill rounding out the list.
The Bell Centre’s promotion associate, Evenko, landed Pollstar’s No. 8 spot worldwide in the category of ticket sales, and its hallmark festival, Osheaga, was named the top music festival in Canada (No. 11 worldwide).
To add to the honours, music-biz bible Billboard ranked Evenko as the fifth largest promoter in the world in its Dec. 22 issue.
January 9th, 2013
The Lumineers worked with AEG to implement paperless ticketing for their show at the Ogden, powered by Outbox’s outstanding technology
Denver Westword, By Dave Herrera, Tue., Jan. 8 2013
The Lumineers are virtually inescapable these days -- in the world of music, obviously, but also in the realm of pop culture: From being in constant radio rotation across the nation to being name dropped as a part of incidental plot lines on TV shows like Nashville, the Denver-based, Grammy nominated act has received an enormous amount of exposure since its album was released last spring. As a result, the band is now extremely high demand, and so are tickets to its shows, particularly when they're sold out. So it was odd, then, not to see a single scalper hawking tickets on Colfax outside the act's recent shows at the Ogden Theatre -- odd, but not by chance, we've discovered.
For their New Year's Eve run at the Ogden, the Lumineers specifically requested paperless, non-transferable ticketing for these shows. While this isn't exactly a new approach -- flash tickets are commonplace at places like the Pepsi Center, and several other well established acts have explored paperless ticket entry in an effort to circumvent scalping -- it is one that you don't typically see at smaller concerts like this. Generally this is something you see employed at arena shows, and at that level in the venue is usually equipped with handheld scanners to help facilitate the process. At the Ogden, AEG's Axs ticketing platform facilitated the entire process.
"It's a two-edged sword," says Don Strasburg, vice president and senior talent buyer for AEG Live Rocky Mountains. "It obviously has a tremendous impact on the ability to resell tickets, if it's implemented in a forum that requires no transfer. However, it can be very difficult because there are two major issues that come up with these things."
One of the potential drawbacks Strasburg is speaking of is an added requisite that requires the person who purchases the ticket to actually be on hand for admission. If you're that person, and you're going to the show, no problem, obviously. But say you purchased a block of paperless, non-transferable tickets for you and your buddies, but then, for whatever reason, you couldn't make it. You'd still need to be present for the tickets to be accepted -- or, you'd need to send the credit card that purchased the tickets with your friends.
"Think of it like getting on an airplane," Strasburg explains. "An airplane is a paperless -- or it's basically a non-transferable ticket. You can't go on in mom's name. The difference is is that your mom can buy you a ticket. You couldn't buy a ticket for another person," unless, of course, you plan on going to the show, or sending along your credit card. But even that last option is a concession on the part of the promoter to help make the whole experience easier on the fans while still accommodating the band's request. Whereas a stricter approach would've gone a step further and required fans to present an ID that matched the credit card.
Logistically speaking, things went really well for the Lumineers' show. “The new Axs ticketing we have at the Ogden worked flawlessly for this," notes Strasburg. "A lot of effort was put into it, and it worked flawlessly. We were thrilled with how smoothly this non-transferable paperless ticketing went with the Axs ticketing system. We took a great deal of pain to make it easy on everybody -- talking to them, really working it through; we had extra staff and everything like that...
But even though this approach was successful for this show, there's no immediate plans to convert to this system for upcoming concerts, unless the show itself calls for it, and then it will be considered. "For shows coming down the pike that are kind of special underplays at the Ogden and venues like that," says Strasburg, "We will probably look at using it again."
October 22nd, 2012
London, October 22nd, 2012
THE O2 LAUNCHES AEG’S NEW TICKETING PLATFORM, AXS.COM, WITH GIRLS ALOUD’S FIRST LONDON SHOWS IN THREE YEARS
The O2 have announced that their new fan-friendly and innovative ticketing platform AXS.com, will officially launch with the long awaited Girls Aloud reunion – one of the first shows to use the new ticketing system developed by The O2’s owners AEG.
Girls Aloud announced their two-night run at The O2 arena for March 2013 at a glitzy press conference on Friday at The Corinthia Hotel.
With innovative new technology, AXS is set to transform the fan’s ticket buying experience by saving time and providing groundbreaking benefits never before available to gig-goers.
Among the innovations ticket buyers will find with AXS.com are:
AXS Invite™ helps fans reserve adjacent seats for friends so that they can all sit together. Once the seats are reserved, buyers can then invite their friends to buy the nearby seats via Facebook or email helping groups who want to sit together while avoiding anyone having to pay upfront for all of the seats.
AXS Waiting Room ™ opens shortly before a public on-sale, will give fans greater visibility into the buying process by displaying event details, pricing and ticket information and, will shorten the time it takes to buy a ticket, allowing buyers to enter their payment details and view available seats before general tickets go on sale.
In a departure from the industry standard, AXS offers free print at home. Fans in the UK will not be charged any fee for printing at home for tickets purchased thru AXS.com.
Speaking today at their press conference Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud said, “Our fans mean the world to us and using AXS to purchase their tickets for The O2 shows means that they will all have equal chance to get tickets to see what will be a very special show”.
After AXS saw a successful rollout at venues throughout the US arenas, The O2 in London will now be powered by AXS.com Dean DeWulf, Vice President AXS Europe, said, “We are truly changing the way people buy tickets. We believe buying a ticket to see your favourite artist should be simple, convenient, social and fair. AXS.com is built around the fan.”
Rebecca Kane, General Manager of The O2 Arena, added, “The O2 prides itself on providing the very best entertainment experience, so we are naturally very excited about the introduction of AXS.com for The O2 and the 2 million regular ticket buyers who choose to visit us every year.”
Record of the Day
October 12th, 2012
AEG introduces AXS INVITE SOCIAL TICKETING TOOL of AXS ticketing
New Feature Introduced by AEG, in Cooperation with Outbox Technology, Allows Event Goers to Reserve Adjacent Seats and Invite Friends to Purchase Separately
LOS ANGELES (Oct. 12, 2012) – Launched just a year ago to create a true fan-friendly ticketing experience, AXS Ticketing introduces a new advancement that brings people together and takes the middle-man out of buying tickets as a group – AXS Invite. An innovative experience that infuses online ticketing with the power of Facebook, AXS Invite allows fans, for the first time ever, to buy tickets and reserve adjacent seats for their friends, which can be purchased separately. The social ticketing process is easy and keeps friends sitting together during the show/game/performance.
“This is a situation everyone can relate to – you want to go to a concert, show or sporting event with your friends, but you don’t want to pay for everyone’s tickets upfront and worry about collecting the money,” said Tom Andrus, SVP and GM of AXS.com. “AXS Invite takes out the middle-man and allows groups to reserve seats and pay individually through AXS.com. By simplifying the group ticket-buying experience, any risk or stress is essentially eliminated.”
AXS Invite empowers fans to reserve adjacent tickets for friends so they can all sit together without one person fronting the cost for the whole group. Through an easy one-step invitation process, friends can decide whether or not they would like to attend the event, then purchase and receive their own tickets. The process makes it easy for groups to attend events.
AXS Invite will be activated within 48 hours of an on-sale.
An easy-to-use social tool, AXS Invite can be utilized through a few simple steps.
“We’re bringing innovation back to ticketing” added Andrus. “AXS Invite will change the way people look at group ticketing by making it more consumer friendly. We’re trying to streamline the ticketing process as much as possible through the features we are rolling out with AXS Ticketing.”
AXS Invite is the first of many features that will be rolled out in the coming months to bolster new ticketing platform – AXS Ticketing. Created by AEG, one of the world’s leading entertainment and sports presenters, is the first phase of AXS, a new platform that will leverage AEG’s facilities and music, sports, and entertainment properties in an effort to redefine the live event consumer experience – from access to ticketing to digital engagement and multi-platform content distribution.
After introducing AXS Ticketing (available online at AXS.com and on each venue’s website, leveraging Outbox ticketing technology) in August 2011, the platform is currently being used for venues in nine markets, including Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Ontario, San Francisco, Saratoga and Seattle. In the coming weeks, AXS will launch the ticketing service at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. And The O2 Arena in London, the world’s top-selling concert arena, followed by additional venues such as the STAPLES Center in the first quarter of 2013.
Developed and operated by AEG, one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, AXS is a new entertainment platform and will serve as AEG’s primary consumer brand. The first phase of AXS, AXS ticketing, was created in cooperation with Outbox Technology and will provide fans the opportunity to purchase tickets directly from their favorite venues. Additional elements will include a mobile service launching later this year and a video content service that is now in development.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns or is affiliated with a collection of companies including over 100 of the world’s preeminent facilities such as STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, CA), The Home Depot Center (Carson, CA), Best Buy Theater (Times Square, New York), Sprint Center, (Kansas City), Rose Garden Arena (Portland, OR), Target Center (Minneapolis, MN), Mercedes-Benz Arena (Shanghai, China), MasterCard Center (Beijing, China), O2 World Hamburg, Allphones Arena (Sydney, Australia), Ericsson Globe arena (Stockholm, Sweden), O2 World arena (Berlin, Germany) and The O2 arena and entertainment district (London, England) which are all part of the portfolio of AEG Facilities.. Developed by AEG,L.A. LIVE is a 4 million square foot / $2.5 billion downtownLos Angeles sports, residential & entertainment district featuring Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Club Nokia, a 54-story, 1001-room convention “headquarters” destination along with entertainment, restaurant and office space that “officially” opened in 2010.
In addition to overseeing privately held management shares of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), assets of AEG Sports include franchises and properties such as the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo (MLS), two hockey franchises in Europe, the Amgen Tour of California cycling race and Bay to Breakers foot race. AEG Live, the company’s live-entertainment division, is the world’s second largest concert promotion and touring companies and is comprised of touring, festival, exhibition, broadcast, merchandise and special event divisions with fifteen regional offices. AEG Global Partnerships, a division responsible for worldwide sales and servicing of sponsorships naming rights and other strategic partnerships and AEG Merchandising, a multi-faceted merchandising company are also core business units of AEG. In 2010, AEG launched its AEG 1EARTH environmental program with the announcement of 2020 environmental goals and the release of the industry’s first sustainability report while in 2011, AEG introduced AXS Ticketing, the first phase of its new entertainment platform serving as the company’s primary consumer brand which will also feature a mobile service as well as a video content service now in development.
January 6th, 2012
KANSAS CITY (Jan. 6, 2012) –Sprint Center will kick off the New Year by unveiling all-new ticketing platform axs.com with the confirmation of two shows by top international artists. AEG, one of the world’s leading entertainment and sports presenters, introduced the beta version of its axs Ticketing in August 2011 and now brings the user-friendly ticketing and entertainment platform to Kansas City. axs Ticketing is the first phase of axs, a new platform that will leverage AEG’s facilities and music, sports, and entertainment properties in an effort to redefine the live event consumer experience – from access to ticketing to digital engagement and multi-platform content distribution.
Sprint Center, which becomes AEG’s first arena to switch to axs Ticketing, will roll out the axs service when tickets go on sale for upcoming shows on Friday, Jan. 13.
axs.com will open a virtual waiting room shortly before the public on-sale, giving consumers visibility into the buying process. Ticket buyers can log onto axs.com and click the purchase link for the show to enter the waiting room, where they will be able to view event details, pricing and ticket information. Customers also will have the opportunity to enter their billing information to save time once the on-sale goes live, as well as view available seats.
Beginning with the on-sales for Lady Antebellum, Drake, Creed and The Unexpected Arrival of Diggy, all events at Sprint Center and The Midland by AMC moving forward will be on the axs Ticketing system. The online launch in Kansas City follows the service’s overwhelmingly successful debut in Denver at The Ogden Theatre and The Bluebird Theatre. A trio of successful launches in San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas followed the debut.
“We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to last year’s launch of the axs service,” said Todd Sims, AEG’s senior vice president, digital. “The next 12 months will see many new innovations and additions to the service. Starting in Kansas City with four blockbuster acts, and with our first arena to switch to axs Ticketing, is a great way to usher in the new year.”
“Outbox is pleased to provide the core technology that will enable Sprint Center to be the first of AEG’s network of arenas to convert to axs Ticketing,” said Fredric D. Rosen, Co-CEO of Outbox Enterprises. “Like the venues that have already had such seamless and successful transitions, Sprint Center’s ability to interact with the public thru their own branded websites, while retaining all the data received, is one of the most important elements that axs Ticketing with Outbox’s support brings to our clients.”
The axs ticketing platform was built in partnership with Outbox Enterprises, in which AEG is both an equity partner and a client. The white label technology developed by Outbox enables facilities to sell tickets under both the axs brand and each individual venue’s brand, empowering local venues to connect directly with fans while providing centralized CRM services and core ticketing technologies.