As we start the New Year, I want to share some personal and professional news. I will be moving to a Chairman role and Matt Jones will be CEO. We’ve always known the co-CEO structure was temporary and best suited to the the first stage of our merger - but why make this change now? There are a number of reasons.
The co-CEO approach has been a helpful structure for Matt and me to combine our visions, strategies, products, organisations and cultures - everything that we have had to marry to make this merger a success. We’re now 7 months into the merger, and have created some great momentum, so can revert to a more orthodox leadership structure.
I have also been working towards this transition for very personal reasons. I’ve always tried to use this blog as a place to be real about some of the challenges of building a start-up and should share the other reason why this is the right time. A few years ago my younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The prognosis was not great, but there was room to hope. At the start of 2015 my sister’s prognosis abruptly shifted to terminal and she died weeks later. I’m a very private person when it comes to my family, so this isn’t easy to share in public, but reading essays by Paul Bucheit on the death of his brother really helped me this year, so I’m trying to be more open. This transition is also about me taking time to properly grieve after spending the last year head down and focused on making a success of our merger.
During 2015 we achieved some great things. We raised two rounds of financing, hired some great new people, launched new products, and saw growth we are all excited by. I’m also really proud of the progress we’ve made against one of the less tangible goals of the merger - to combine the DNA of CrowdSurge - a deep understanding of the needs of artists surrounding ticketing - with the DNA of Songkick - building scalable consumer products for fans. We didn’t expect to see the results of that within the first year, but when Adele’s team approached us to help them counteract what they expected to be unprecedented levels of scalping around their upcoming tour, we launched a new product that drew on all the strengths of the merged company. In the words of one industry commentator “Songkick has done more in one campaign to address the issue of touting than has been achieved to date by any other party in any other sector…the prospects are tantalising and, for once, both the artist and the fan seem to have won”. I’m really looking forward to us scaling this product up with more artists in 2016.
We also, like all start-ups, have challenges ahead and felt that the next phase of execution would benefit from a more orthodox and battle-hardened leadership structure.
Without a doubt, Matt Jones is the best CEO for the next chapter. Matt’s been a long-time friend and collaborator of mine, and our shared vision and mutual respect were big factors in wanting to merge our companies. He’s one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met, with a combination of insane levels of energy, infectious ambition, and downright relentlessness. If you spend a few minutes in his company you’ll see that he cares at the deepest possible level about the future of the concert industry, and has a single-minded determination to use technology to make it better.
His leadership is a huge asset to Songkick, and it’s been a big factor in our ability to continue to hire exceptional team members, raise funding from world class investors and earn the trust of artists like Adele, Metallica and Mumford & Sons. Matt’s vision has always been that an artist should be able to sell tickets wherever their fans are engaged, and that vision of distributed commerce is central to our plans for 2016. But as well as being a visionary, Matt’s also deeply pragmatic - a rare combination in our industry - and a leader dedicated to getting shit done.
I’m grateful to our board and executive team in supporting Matt and me with this transition, and in particular to my co-founder Michelle and my new co-founders Adam and Matt for their support throughout this year.
2016’s a huge year for Songkick, and now the merger’s fully complete we have the right team, technology and structure to make it a success. I’m more convinced than ever that we can have a transformative impact on artists, fans and the wider industry, and I’m excited to continue building towards this in the year ahead as Chairman.