Music’s First Blockchain Ticketer Big Neon Has Run Out of Money

Big Neon was billed as music’s first blockchain ticketing company when it launched at the end of 2018 and announced plans top become a token-based system by 2020 and the eventual “spiritual successor” to Ticketfly. But 27 months after launching, the mobile-based ticketing system has run out of money and is now shutting its doors, co-founders Dan Teree and Ryan O’Connor confirm to Billboard.

Earlier this week, Teree and O’Connor sent to a note to venue clients like the Midway and Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco, the Gas Monkey in Dallas and The Exit/In in Nashville announcing Big Neon’s plans to close effective March 30.

“It is with great regret that Big Neon has decided to cease operations,” the letter read. “This was an extremely difficult decision for the Big Neon team. Our goal was to build a new type of ticketing company based on a mobile-centric approach. Unfortunately, growing an early stage company in the current COVID environment was untenable.”

Big Neon was billed as a blockchain ticketing company when it was launched in December 2018, with plans to utilize the Tari blockchain protocol, which Teree developed with cryptocurrency pioneer Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni and entrepreneur Naveen Jain. But those plans never materialized and instead Big Neon operated like a traditional software based system for the past two years. With backgrounds at Ticketfly — Teree was a co-founder, while O’Connor previously served as business development director — the men generated considerable buzz around their plans for tech-focused ticketing company similar to the Ticketfly system, which parent company Eventbrite shut down in 2019 following a 2017 purchase.

But Big Neon never made the planned 2020 shift to the Tori protocol and struggled with liquidity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic as the live events business ground to a halt, leaving Teree and O’Connor without any revenue.

“The opportunity to build Big Neon was a gift,” O’Connor says. “That said, the ongoing uncertainty of COVID combined with the need to raise substantial sums of capital to play in the live music space made for tough headwinds. This is ultimately the best move for all.”

Teree co-founder Andrew Dreskin left Eventbrite in 2019 and is now working on a technology project called Fly Machine.

“I think many of the priorities we were committed to will show up in other ticketing platforms in the not-so-distant future, particularly in the form of mobile-only tickets and building a memorable app-based experience for consumers,” Teree says. “We are technology builders and it sucks when you don’t get to build cool things. I guess it’s not that different than what countless artists and bands are going through right now!”

In their letter to clients, Teree and O’Connor released their clients from their contracts and laid out plans for any tickets to future events remaining on the Big Neon to either be paid out or refunded. Several clients contacted by Billboard said they had been approached by new ticketing companies offering their services.

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