Paradise Papers reveal cozy relationship between Stubhub and Canadian botmaster/scalper kingpin

Originally published at:


Although I hate scalpers, I would not call it “economically useless activity”. There are vast inefficiencies in the ticket marketplace: The artist do not want (officially) charge too much for their tickets and there are less tickets than there is demand for them. The consequence of it is that whoever manages to buy tickets at the original price have something that market can pay much, much more. Unfair, somewhat yes, but economically sound, as the people who value more (or just have more money) the artist will pay the price that take into account the supply and demand.

It’s up to the artists, and primary ticket sellers to block such activities (“named” tickets is one such way), having an auction is another.

I personally would just create “named” tickets + increasing ticket cost if the supply is nearing to the end, so the fans have a chance to buy cheaper tickets, the artist doesn’t seem greedy and they get more revenue in case of a high demand.


“Unfair, somewhat yes, but economically sound” Fuck I hate those words. More profitable to market a drug that kills some people and settle out of court than withdraw it. Unfair but economically sound. More profitable to outsource garment production to shady countries with criminal worker harassment and union leaders assassination than paying living wages and build safe working areas. Unfair but economically sound. Economically sound = more money/power for the plutocrats… Sharpening my pitchfork.


They should keep digging. I’m sure that there will be a link to the actual ticket selling companies (or people inside them).

Granted that the people who write the scalperbots are clever at finding loopholes and exploiting them, closing those loopholes isn’t rocket science. (I mean the big loopholes that allow an entire concert to be grabbed by bots in minutes.) For some reason the ticket companies lack the will to hire clever people to fix that and keep it fixed.

The simplest explanation is that someone at the ticket companies is making a lot of money from the scalpers to keep those loopholes open.


They’re only “economically sound” in the sense that they can maximize the ticket price patrons are willing to pay. However, this assumes that this is a legitimate goal for the market to have in the first place. The scalper has performed no beneficial service to those served by the market- they have only helped themselves financially, and in the process distorted the market to favor wealthy patrons.

Efficient markets are not a goal unto themselves; if they are not serving a beneficial role for the parties involved, there’s no good reason to keep them around unfettered. An extreme analogy would be how in times of famine, unscrupulous people might hoard food meant for distribution to the public, knowing that they can get a high price on the open market… economically sound or just unethical?


Squint a little and you’ve got the whole late-stage capitalist economy in a snowglobe miniature, begging to be smashed to the pavement.

Lets smash. How does that happen, I’m at a loss.


Say you have a drug that saved 100 lives and killed 3. Is it ethical to sell the drug? Should the three lost patient’s families be allowed to sue the company, even if they knew the risks?

1 Like

You don’t realize how high a 3% failure rate is, do you?

Say you have a drug that saved 1,000,000 lives and killed 30,000…

To begin with…

Stage two is a bit more complicated.

1 Like

Then it is still by far a net positive to keep that drug on the market.

Drugs are always a cost-benefit analysis, because that’s the approach that saves the most lives. Any drug will kill someone. Some more obviosuly and spectacularly than others. Every third party analysis of the FDA, for example, clearly shows they are too conservative, and would save many more lives (or probably something more like QALYs) by approving more drugs.

1 Like

The Grateful Dead – at least for their Oakland New Year’s shows – had a system where you had to (i) go get a US Postal Money Order, (ii) send in a request by mail and (iii) include a SASE to get your tickets (or your unused money order) back; it was completely bot proof (not that there were any bots back then), but it required a certain amount of work on the part of a would-be concert goer. There are plenty of other methods to avoid this kind of scalping (slave tickets to the card buying the tickets), or make one ticket in ten invalid but where you could get the original purchase price back (but not the marked-up price).

In a world where the ticket is sold to anyone and it’s completely transferable (for apparent ease and cost of administration) I can’t get very worked up about this sort of thing.


Once the ticket companies started reselling tickets from third parties, they get to sell the tickets twice. Ka-ching!!!


Ah yes, that damned FDA, being slow to approve useful drugs like that trendy new anti-morning-sickness drug Germany’s giving it’s pregnant women just because of “safety concerns”

Underregulation is bad.
Overregularion is also bad.
Only no one can currently hold officials to account to the lives they cost
for being too cautious.

All drugs are poisons. You have to balance the number of people cured or suffering less against the number harmed. That’s not economics- it’s medicine. If we only used drugs that harm absolutely no one in any circumstances you’re back at homeopathic a&e:

1 Like

This, and there’s the other end that sometimes things are overpriced and the venue/artist needs to make anything back at the last minute, hence price drops or having other entities manage excess supply for you.

I have a friend who works a ticket broker, and his job has more in common with commodity brokers or someone who figures out pricing algorithms for Priceline or something than a common street scalper. I mean, they employ those guys too, but that’s the very last ditch point of sale for this stuff now.

That said, he’d also be the first to tell you that Stubhub is shady as f**k.


Sure, but don’t be angry at the concepts. One has to create the system that does not allow the scalpers to operate. You can’t relay on the world where everyone is good and loving. If there are inefficiencies there will be always people that exploit them. If you have read my post till the end you will know that is is what I wanted to highlight.

There is no goal to a market :slight_smile: it goes where it wants and patches the inefficiencies wherever possible. You can’t be mad at it more than you can be mad at evolution for creating mosquitoes. If you want get rid of the scalpels (and I would be the first to cheer for that) create the system where scalping is impossible to do. Understand and repair the problem because the market is a ruthless place and it requires smart regulation so that it can’t exploit people. At the end of my post I included some suggestions how to do that.

I’m really surprised why the tickets sales are not handled more efficient. It’s really not that hard in this day and age. I don’t want to spew conspiracy theories, but I have a feeling that major artist sell percentage of tickets to scalpels in order to get the market price. Additional theories include: 1) reputation of being an asshole 2) Increased interest in tickets long-term due to first-minute interest 3) Some regulations? 4) the over-demand is actually not a problem for most of the industry and creating more efficient sales would not account for major profit boost …As you see I’m really scraping the bottom of possibilities here :slight_smile:

1 Like

Theories #0 and #2 are pretty spot on, TBH. The legal, non-shady portion of this, i.e. “brokering” vs scalping is taking shape as a lot of venues and sports teams are admitting they have a supply elasticity problem and just working with outside vendors to even up their sales income.

#4 also comes into play somewhat, as there’s the fringes of speculation (esp. when an artist blows up AFTER initial ticket sale or big money spender wants front row boy band tix for their daughter NOW or underdog sports team suddenly makes playoffs) where it’s chump change to the artist/venue and unpredictable, but serious money to some small outfit who can pull that kind of thing down. The boring partnership and general “long tail” stuff of selling a thousand tickets at half price of original cost that you picked up at .45 of original cost subsidizes losses on the speculative part.

The system we have now is actually BETTER for everyone than it was a decade ago. Unfortunately, there’s also entities out that that realize they aren’t squeezing every last dime out of people, and try to crack down in the most heavy handed, often short sighted, ways. Looking at you Ticketmaster.

1 Like