Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Applauze Raises $7.2M for Mobile Ticketing App, Just Six Months After Launch

The company behind mobile event app Applauze has raised $7.2 million from investors including True Ventures, m8 Capital and StubHub co-founder Jeff Fluhr, on the back of quick growth from selling tickets through its app, which launched in March of this year.

“The early wave of apps were really hard to monetize,” said True Ventures partner Jon Callaghan, who led the round. “But we’re seeing a new generation of app commerce, led by Uber and eBay and Amazon.”

Though there are many mobile ticketing apps, Callaghan said he was betting on Applauze for the team’s “great product sense” — they have previously built a bunch of well-received apps — and their early numbers that show one of the highest rates of conversion from browsing customer to paying customer that he has ever seen.

(Of course, Applauze founder Kiran Bellubbi declined to provide those numbers, so we’ll have to take their word for it. But early stats are likely unsustainably high, anyway, given that the app has only been out six months.)

The Applauze app, which is only available for iOS, has a nifty accordion-style interface for browsing sports, music and theater tickets, as well as free community events. In some cases, it offers VIP perks associated with tickets, but in general, the attraction is ease of use and upfront pricing, rather than discounts.

Applauze now has tickets for events in 41 U.S. cities and five in Canada, which Bellubbi noted is substantially more than competitors such as YPlan and WillCall, which are both only in two cities.

“This is hard,” Bellubbi said. “There’s no API you can just tie into, or a universal programming language for events that everyone understands.” Lists of tickets are drawn from multiple sources, both the primary sellers and secondary markets like StubHub, and they are purchasable directly in the app.

Applauze is the new direction for a Mountain View, Calif.-based company known as 955 Dreams, which had repeated success with publishing slickly made app titles such as History of Jazz. The company’s biggest hit, Band of the Day, has been downloaded 5.1 million times, and started the push away from publishing.

But Applauze is where Bellubbi and the investors are placing their bets, in the hope that early trends in in-app spending and mobile commerce will continue.

Ultimately, Bellubbi wants Applauze to be less of a ticketing app and more of a “lifestyle and luxury” app, he said. For instance, he wants to add the ability to purchase prix fixe restaurant menus.

To that end, Bellubbi’s team has given much thought to what he called “reducing anxiety around big purchases.” Applauze creates group chat threads for friends attending an event together that combine their comments with alerts about their Applauze ticket purchase information. And, with only 16 people on the team, Applauze is already setting up a call center for customer service in Nashville.

955 Dreams had previously raised a $4.2 million seed round from investors including 500 Startups, m8 Capital and Kapor Capital.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google