FanSnap Launches SeatAlerts, Still Snapping Up Fans

Mike Janes, chief executive and co-founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based FanSnap, a search engine for live event tickets, is no fan of the New York Yankees (he loves the Red Sox), but he was happy to see them in this fall’s World Series. Why? Since they were playing the Phillies, a rivalry as old as professional baseball itself, it boosted the number of people looking to buy tickets to the games, thus giving a bump to the number of people using his service. The company, which launched back in March, has just unveiled a new feature: Seat Alert, which notifies fans when the seats that meet their specific requirements are made available.

Thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, this week I’ve been able to catch up with some of the companies I’ve written about in the past such as FanSnap. The company, which started out focusing on sports events, has since expanded to music concerts and Broadway shows, with its sales now evenly split between those related to sports and those not. FanSnap currently has 800 interactive maps that allow folks to pick and choose the live event tickets they want to buy. Yankees-Phillies games along with tours by musical acts such as U2 and Lady Gaga have revved up business for the company, Janes said.

FanSnap has about 200,000 unique visitors every month, he told me. “We continue to grow by focusing on our strategy to concentrate on hot events and hot venues.” Web analytics companies Quantcast and Compete put FanSnap’s number of uniques lower, but concur with the firm’s claims as to its growth. FanSnap has raised about $15.5 million in funding from General Catalyst Partners and Highland Capital.

After launching as a plain-vanilla search engine, the company has been trying to turn itself into what Janes likes to call the “Yelp of venues.” To that end, FanSnap has been asking its users to write reviews of their seats and upload photos of them in order to help out future buyers. The company has launched an iPhone app as well. “We want to become the single best source of information for fans,” said Janes, who was formerly chief marketing officer of StubHub.

It’s a great goal, but FanSnap clearly has its work cut out for it. It needs to improve its listings directory, for one. And it needs to redouble its efforts to get users to upload photos. I did quite a few random searches and ended up on numerous venues with no photos. Most importantly, it needs to quickly build interactive maps for some of the more popular venues — notably the Oakland Coliseum and the Angels Stadium.