Who is Julia Hartz? CEO of Eventbrite

  • Julia Hartz is co-founder and new chief executive officer (CEO) of Eventbrite, a billion-dollar company that has successfully disrupted the ticketing industry.
  • In 2006, she co-founded Eventbrite with (her then-fiancé) Kevin Hartz and Renaud Visage. The company now has more than 700 global employees with offices in 12 countries.
  • Hartz is known for her leadership of Eventbrite during the COVID-19 pandemic and empowering women in the technology industry. She was selected as one of Fortune magazine’s most powerful women entrepreneurs.
  • Outside of Eventbrite, Hartz is an investor in Minted, Chairish, Playa Capital Company, Tamara Mellon and Color Genomics. She serves on the Board of directors of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and University of California, San Francisco’s Board of overseers.

Julia Hartz is the Co-founder of Eventbrite, responsible for the vision, strategy, and growth of the company. Hartz co-founded Eventbrite with a vision to build a self-service platform that would make it possible for anyone to create and sell tickets to live experiences.

In April 2016, Hartz was appointed CEO and became member of Eventbrite Board of directors after her husband (and co-founder) stepped down from the role. In September 2018, Hartz took the company public, “making her among the few women to lead the successful initial public offering of a technology start-up.”

Under her leadership, Eventbrite has become a global self-service ticketing and experience technology platform that serves a community of nearly one million event creators around the world.

Follow her story to see how she grew as a outstanding entrepreneur among few women in tech realm.

Early childhood and education

Hartz was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California.

In her final year of high school, Julia Hartz found herself interning for Dina Ruiz, a local anchorwoman in Monterey. As she pursued her aspirations, Pepperdine University emerged as the ideal destination, despite its hefty price tag. However, with early admission secured and financial barriers looming, Hartz reluctantly settled for U.C. Santa Barbara. It was her mother’s unwavering encouragement that spurred her to action. With determination in her heart, Hartz penned a heartfelt letter to Pepperdine, expressing her fervent desire to attend. Then, just two days before the deadline to commit to UCSB, fate intervened in the form of a monumental packet from Pepperdine—a complete financial aid package that would pave the way for Hartz’s journey to her dream school. She then graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication.

As for what Hartz wanted to be when she grew up, she said, “I never aspired to be an entrepreneur. I was not the kid with the lemonade stand. I grew up as a dutiful ballerina and while I ‘fell backwards’ into entrepreneurialism, ballet taught me many things that have proved useful on this journey: self-awareness, attention to detail, flexibility (literally and figuratively), how to make adjustments, etc. I ultimately chose this path because I thrive on velocity.”

Also read: Who is Michelle Zatlyn? The Cloudflare COO had zero cybersecurity skills, but grew into a true tech leader

Marriage and the family of Hartz

Hartz got engaged to Kevin Hartz in April 2005, “started Eventbrite nine months later, and got married five months after that.” In 2016, after Hartz took over the CEO role, her husband Kevin returned to working as an investor. Hartz lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.

Pop quiz

What did Julia Hartz learn from her experience in ballet that proved useful on her entrepreneurial journey?

a. How to manage finances effectively

b. How to lead a team

c. Self-awareness, attention to detail, and flexibility

d. How to network and build connections

The correct answer is at the bottom of the article.

The start of Julia Hartz’s career journey

Julia Hartz embarked on her career journey from Hollywood. Her first internship placed her on the set of “Friends” at the height of its frenzy. Tasked with holding the phone and responding to calls, she found the job challenging due to her dislike of phone conversations and her inherent shyness. Feeling overwhelmed by the frenetic energy, Julia couldn’t wait to escape.

Transitioning into the world of technology, Julia’s life took a new turn after meeting Kevin. They frequented San Francisco on weekends, attending parties where the PayPal team engaged in speed chess. Meanwhile, Kevin was engrossed in building Xoom, often practicing his pitch deck with Julia, who was captivated by his passion. Amidst her tenure at FX, where product placement was gaining prominence, Julia faced challenges on calls with clients like Anheuser-Busch, dealing with issues like the incorrect placement of Miller Lite bottles. Meanwhile, Denis Leary’s frustration over unpaid endorsements added to the chaos. As Hartz witnessed Kevin showcasing the first YouTube videos, she realized the swift pace at which the tech industry was evolving.

The balance of working with partner

Hartz and her husband approached their venture as a social experiment, viewing it as a trial that they were prepared to abandon if it didn’t yield success. Even now, they can’t reach a consensus on who would have relinquished their role had their endeavour failed. Their determination to succeed was palpable from the outset.

Close friends, seasoned in building businesses together, imparted invaluable wisdom: “Divide and conquer,” they advised. “Never focus on the same task simultaneously.” This became their guiding principle. They diligently avoided overlapping responsibilities, recognising that sharing the same workspace could lead to unnecessary conflict.

Eventbrite company logo

Creating culture on a global scale

Hartz is very proud of accomplishing a personal 10-year long goal – being listed on Fortune’s “Great places to work for Millennials” in 2015. Meanwhile, Eventbrite, under her stewardship, garnered acclaim as the best company to work for in San Francisco on no less than 7 occasions. Reflecting on what constitutes greatness within a company, Hartz opined, “It’s not just what you do, but how you do it; the people you assemble, and the sense of community you foster.”

Navigating the growth of a company presents an ongoing challenge, as the evolution of its culture remains unpredictable. “Transitioning from a tight-knit team of 30 to a sprawling company of 100 in less than a year was no small feat,” acknowledged Hartz. Indeed, the culture at Eventbrite must continually adapt, serving as a reflection of its dynamic workforce, perpetually in flux.

Recognising the global reach of his company, Hartz underscored the importance of honouring and respecting local cultures, seamlessly integrating them into the fabric of Eventbrite’s core values. “It’s imperative,” she stressed, “to weave these cultural nuances into our overarching ethos, rather than imposing a singular perspective.”

How did Hartz become CEO?

In 2016, Kevin reached a pivotal decision—he no longer aspired to helm a large corporation as its CEO. Instead, he yearned to return to his roots in building, leaving the esteemed position for another. This declaration caught Hartz off guard, as she was accustomed to having meticulously laid plans for her future. However, amidst the upheaval, she found solace in the pages of “Personal History” by Katharine Graham. Though the circumstances differed, Graham’s adept handling of adversity resonated deeply with her. Thus, with a sense of reluctant acceptance, Hartz embraced the unexpected opportunity.

Neither Hartz nor Kevin wished for the transition to be merely an internal affair or a mere passing of the torch. Hence, they dedicated considerable time to ensure that the board, acting independently, wholeheartedly supported the decision. When the board finally reached its verdict, a decision that entailed its own risks, Hartz found herself compelled to take up the challenge.

Hartz had fully aware of the empathy is the top soft skill of a woman. While traditionally viewed as a feminine trait—a weakness, even—empathy has now emerged as a critical business strength, and a requirement to succeed as a great leader.

“Great leaders know when to lean someone into their strengths, and when to help alleviate or manage their challenges. And that requires an understanding of where that person is coming from. That requires empathy. I call empathy my superpower, and I say that with sincerity and pride. But it was only after learning to apply discipline to my empathy that it became a strength,” Hartz said.

Therefore, in April 2016, Hartz was appointed CEO and became member of Eventbrite Board of directors after her husband (and co-founder) stepped down from the role. In September 2018, Hartz took the company public, “making her among the few women to lead the successful initial public offering of a technology start-up.”

Building to achieve profitable growth

“Future-proofing the business with decisive measures and a route to profitability whilst bolstering the balance sheet this year,” declared Hartz with unwavering confidence. Emphasising the significance of both profitability and growth rate, she asserted, “Attaining profitability doesn’t signify the resolution of all our challenges. I’m gazing further into the horizon.”

From answering customer calls in the wee hours during Eventbrite’s nascent days to assuming the helm as CEO, Hartz’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. It commenced with engaging customers, soliciting their feedback, and iteratively enhancing the product. Now, firmly in command, Hartz steers the company towards greater heights.

The correct answer is c, self-awareness, attention to detail, and flexibility.


Iris Deng

Iris Deng, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in Fintech and Blockchain. She is studying English at Hangzhou Dianzi University. Send tips to i.deng@btw.media.

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