Leading the platform strategy has been an exciting opportunity to impact the course of Ticketmaster's technology and business.
My first opportunity came as General Manager for a platform reinvention initiative. I was responsible for overseeing all areas of integration, setting annual target goals & quarterly milestones. During this time, I was the primary point of contact for 3rd party auditors reporting to the Board for Live Nation Entertainment regarding the platform investment. Scope covered all areas of Ticketmaster technology including core ticketing systems, payment systems, B2B & B2C applications and identity systems.
As Business Segment leader for Ticketmaster’s Platform, my mission was to provide simple, reliable & efficient access to common business capabilities in order to speed innovation & strengthen Ticketmaster’s position for long-term success. Creating an open platform for internal and 3rd party development teams is all about creating consistent APIs and flexibility in accessing data the way teams want data - and absolutely about security.
Driving the platform strategy, aligning priorities to company goals and setting standards for security, stability & performance were critical responsibilities. I set the product vision for the platform, was accountable for driving product strategy, architecture & priorities and leading transformation across critical platform domains. The execution strategy was two-step:
To build ownership & clear leadership across the platform, I created mission-focused teams across 6 domains:
The Fans domain is a growing space and an ongoing battle. This is where we fight the battle of the bots that we see more and more in the news and in legislation. Identifying fans versus bad actors is critical in the ticketing business where inventory is limited and in demand. Ticketmaster's Verified Fan product is just one tool in the box that our Fans domain uses to balance between a seamless experience versus one with obstacles to differentiate fans from bots or bad actors during the purchase flow.
Many of the Open Platform APIs can be found on the Developer Portal. There, you can get access to global events via the Discovery API. And 3rd party partners have access to additional APIs created by the platform teams in Ticketmaster's mission to open the platform.
I've had the privilege of working ticketing for 3 Summer Olympic Games: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 & London 2012, fulfilling a lifetime goal.
In junior high, we were asked to set goals. I set 3:
These are probably not the kind of goals they intended, but they were mine! I took care of the 1st one in high school. And I nailed the 2nd one in college. The problem with the 3rd one was that I was no longer swimming. But at Ticketmaster, I got to experience the Olympics from a different perspective.
Providing ticketing services for the Olympics is a complex multi-year project. There are a number of phases from initial informational website to applications, lottery, selling of space (because final seating is usually still under construction), and selling of actual seats, followed by the day-to-day operations during the Games. There are general public as well as contractual customers, and credentials, souvenir tickets and general tickets. This is true for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
For Athens, I only spent 3 weeks onsite but the technology updates were amazing. This project was filled with firsts - first time storing data in multiple languages (French, English & the language of the host country, Greek), first time printing complex character sets, lots of new functionality, and a massive integration which required real-time synchronization between systems of record. That's where I spent most of my time. Aside from project management responsibilities, I helped design the integration and was responsible for validation & onsite data center installation along with daily reconciliation. It was one of our earliest implementations of a store & forward design which would eventually be replaced as streaming technology has advanced over the years. On a personal note, being in Athens was as amazing as I imagined it would be. I could see the Parthenon from the balcony of my hotel room!
Beijing brought new technology challenges as well as business challenges. The biggest technology challenge was storing & displaying multi-byte characters on legacy systems. Updating every product & service in our stack from data stores to gateways to frontend products & ticket printers was a massive endeavor, requiring extensive testing and coordination. And the scale of doing business in China was more than our systems had experienced to date. We set a number of record days for both website traffic and ticket sales. But the biggest challenges I faced were business and cultural. I traveled to Beijing for about a year and a half for the Olympics and building the Ticketmaster business in China. My 2 biggest lessons I learned were that my decision making process needed to change and consistency is key. I think the latter is rather obvious but I found it critical here when the pressure was so high to remain focused on the target rather than be distracted by random requests that could derail the project. The former was fascinating for me. I quickly learned that the business rules were very different in China so until I learned the rules, I struggled to predict business decisions. Learning the cultural differences and living in Beijing experiencing daily life was really an experience of a lifetime for me, especially commuting by bicycle on the streets of Beijing.
And my last Summer Games was in London. I thought this one would be a breeze because Ticketmaster is well established in the market and we've done 2 other Olympics before, but each Olympics has its own challenges and London was no different. We spent weeks testing our systems in production using a 3rd party to generate the kind of loads we were expecting to see on launch day. I led the design of these tests, modeling usage patterns, analyzing results, adjusting system configurations, managing the relationship with the 3rd party, and discussing results with the client. There were a lot of learnings from the testing that not only benefited the Olympics project but also the main business. It was a great experience but after spending nearly a year in London, I as anxious to be home, and ride my bicycle on the correct side of the road!
I've had the opportunity to create & build several new teams over the years. Setting the standards for new disciplines within an organization is hard work, building momentum and finding the right people, but it's very rewarding too.
In 2003, I was asked to create a Project Management team for Ticketmaster's R&D division. This later grew into a broader Program Management team when it was unified under with the already established team for eCommerce. In the beginning, the primary focus was on compliance as well as standardizing our product development process. This was in the early days of Sarbanes-Oxley so I had to create a process that was lightweight but met the intention of the SOX audit. At the same time, I helped revise our SAS 70 controls. And shortly after that, I was responsible for ensuring our processes were compliant with the new Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). From these efforts, a new project lifecycle was created for Ticketmaster along with a team to help manage it and speed up the development process.
With a new project lifecycle in place, I started looking for other ways to speed innovation. I created a Product Management team for Ticketmaster's B2B products & core inventory systems. Many of these were backend systems so at the time, I built a team of Development Strategists. The skillset was different than the eCommerce Product Management team but many of the responsibilities were the same. Development Strategists were expected to be technically strong, set a strategy for the products & services they support, and create requirements & acceptance criteria for those efforts. It was an experiment that Ticketmaster continues to use today, applying the discipline of Product Management throughout the technical stack not just at the edge.
In late 2014, I started a Portfolio Management discipline for Ticketmaster. Setting the process for this practice along with the documentation standards was rough going at first. Each team had their own standards and prioritization was being done in silos. The goal was to bring all of it together to be able to view and make decisions on the whole. Standardizing the views, metrics and messaging on each product's strategy was critical. I led this effort until a team was hired to continue and grow the practice.
My work at Ticketmaster has been more than I expected. I remember standing in line at G.I. Joe’s as a kid, waiting to buy tickets to a concert. And for over 20yrs I’ve helped bring that experience to millions – hopefully making it a little easier than camping out in line.
I started my career as a developer for a POS application used in Box Offices, Call Centers and Retail Locations around the world. The programming language was proprietary and the product connected directly to the core inventory system. At the time, developers wore many hats. I was product manager, developer, QA and production support. This was a great way to learn the business and gain exposure to all aspects of the development lifecycle.
Learning the technology at the core of our business along with the usage from several different perspectives gave me the building blocks to not only see how the pieces fit into the big picture but also how it could be improved. I spent the first 6yrs here, growing my leadership skills and learning about the business & technology. I got the opportunity to work with some of our biggest clients, prepare Ticketmaster for y2k, and talk about our technology at conferences. It was a great foundation.
Growing up in Oregon I never imagined I'd be going to school in the desert, but then I ran across New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology at a college fair. They have an excellent astrophysics program so I checked them out the summer before my senior year in high school and fell in love with the desert.
While there, I found my passion for math. I changed my major to mathematics with a minor in computer science and started studying operations research. Using programming languages to create models of real world problems was fascinating. Providing a quantitative basis for complex decisions appealed to the analyst in me.
Of course there was still room for the creative side too. New Mexico is where I found triathlons & rock climbing and grew to appreciate the art of the Southwest.