This 15-year-old Chicago bootstrapped giant just landed a private equity investment

Written by Sam Dewey
Published on Jan. 14, 2016
This 15-year-old Chicago bootstrapped giant just landed a private equity investment

Located in the landmark Marshall Fields building, Vivid Seats brand new HQ incorporates modern design, collaborative spaces, and the excitement of live events to create an innovative workplace. We are centrally located near public transportation hubs, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
, one of Chicago’s last remaining bootstrapped tech giants, this week announced the company has raised an undisclosed round of private equity funding from new strategic partner, Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm specializing in tech businesses with offices in Chicago, San Francisco, and Austin.

The 15-year-old tech company, which had yet to seek a formal round of funding, joins a host of former Chicago bootstrappers that have received funding in recent years. Chicago tech staples like

We’re a community of passionate, life-long learners tackling challenging problems. We care about each other and about our community.
Our headquarters are located in the River North area of Chicago. Located steps from the Chicago Brown Line stop on the CTA.
, and
The Chicago Loop is a great place to work, located in a central area of Chicago accessible to major public transportation, dining and shopping.
— once young startups that had found a sense of identity in their bootstrapped scrappiness —  have each successfully (and, fairly recently) sought and secured funding by partnering with investors.

Vivid Seats can now be added to that list, leaving as one of Chicago’s last large bootstrapping stalwarts.  

According to Vivid Seats co-founder Eric Vassilatos, the funding represents an opportunity to usher Vivid Seats into the “next level,” allthewhile maintaining a steadfast grasp on the company’s original mission.

“Since starting the company in 2001, we have never lost sight of our mission to give fans the safest, most affordable, and all-around best ticket purchasing experience in the industry, start-to-finish,” said Eric Vassilatos, co-founder of Vivid Seats in a statement. “We are very pleased to be partnering with Vista, who not only shares our vision but can also provide the necessary resources to take Vivid Seats to the next level.”

The full-service secondary marketplace for sports, concerts, and theatre tickets is one of the largest employers of tech workers in Chicago. As of October, the company boasted a headcount of about 350 people. While the press release didn’t expressly say funding will be used for hiring, it did say funds will be used to “accelerate growth” as it continues to develop its online platform and mobile apps.

At the rate Vivid Seats has been expanding over the past couple of years (in 2014, they reported 400 percent growth in employee size since 2011), it’s fair to question how much faster they can even still go.

But co-founder Jerry Bednyak isn’t fazed by plans to kick it into, well, higher gear — he’s excited.

“This a very exciting time as we look to kick off a new and unprecedented phase of growth for Vivid Seats,” Bednyak said in the statement. “This strategic partnership with Vista will enable us to strengthen our core offerings and pursue new opportunities, all while continuing to deliver the best service experience in the industry.”

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