Live Nation Labs Fund

Photo by Kris Krug

By Ethan Kaplan, Product

There are two ways of looking at how businesses work together.

A common one in large companies is akin to a dance. Two big (or one big, one small) companies meet on the dancefloor, do a short dance, bow and be done with it. The only thing paid attention to is the dance, not how they got there, nor what they do afterward—and a press release about this dance is required.

This has many problems. It isn’t a holistic relationship, and orienting a relationship toward a press release is simply putting the idealized end state (“we’re rich!” or “we’re first to market!”) ahead of any long-term gains. It also results in deal fatigue, because the courtship is often more elaborate than the result. These are cynical, press release-oriented relationships and they ultimately prove to be toxic.

To me, the best business development has always been an API key exchange and filling out a credit card form on a website. I get what I want, they get what they want, and we are loosely joined but mutually dependent (them on my money, me on their technology).

However, an API key relationship can only take you so far, and in some cases you find the holes that need filling in your ecosystem only by falling into them.

Sometimes the products that fit those holes are not SaSS and PaSS. Sometimes they haven’t even been created yet. Sometimes they are products with their own ecosystem and no clear way of monetary integration, even if the tech integration is clear.

In these cases, you need a way to extend your business development strategy beyond swinging a corporate purchasing card and API keys around.

The Live Nation Labs Fund was formed to give us this platform.

We are not building an isolated product with Live Nation online. Rather, we are building an ecosystem of products to meet and solve the big problems for our customers. Given that, we know that at the edges is where our innovation must lie, in order to maintain our ability to be nimble. And at the edges is where not only the best products are made, but where they end up residing.

Right now, it’s an amazing time in terms of product development. Different movements can take credit for it, but what it really amounts to is technology has given the ability to make many low-cost, high-reward moves to meet the needs of real people in immediately tangible ways. Everything from cloud computing to ubiquitous computing and pervasive connectivity can take credit for this.

Live Nation Labs Fund (LN Labs Fund for short) lets us participate in this product ecosystem on a level playing field, both as a partner and player, as well as an innovator.

When we set out to create this fund, I added a page to the playbook to outline how we should dictate the use of it. One of the things that I hold tight to at LN Labs is that “everything is a product.” Meaning, even if no one aside from the internal team uses something, treating it as a product puts it into a structure that makes all aspects of its creation, deployment and operation a learnable and maintainble process.

As a product, you have to have a metrics set that you can learn from, as well as user stories and personas that dictate how you reach those metrics.

For LN Labs Fund, this was the creation of a rubric that we put pitches through as a way of maintaining our own products focus on the customer above all:

  1. Is this additive to the user experience?

  2. Are we taking into account implementation and deimplementation? Does the cost/effort involved in those exceed the possible “best case” scenario of normal run-rate?

  3. Is this filling a hole that is created by necessity, resource constraints, product focus or a marketing need?

  4. Does this relationship effect our ability to be nimble?

  5. Is this partner aligned with our objectives? Are we mutually benefiting from this relationship in tangible ways?

  6. Does our relationship with this partner have any negative effect on our ability to maintain the core values of our team? Are they a good actor in the space?

  7. If this is an exclusive relationship, what is the downside risk?

  8. Is this a temporary solution or a long-term engagement?

LN Labs Fund is looking to work with partners in all aspects of our product: from infrastructure to media. Things that make our users’ lives better, and help us solve big problems:

Connecting you to your favorite music and events on the world’s biggest stage.