Credit: Erik Tanner for The New York Times
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Conventional wisdom has it that mixing professional and personal relationships is unwise. Julia Hartz ignored the conventional wisdom.
After college and a few years bouncing around the media business, she co-founded Eventbrite, the ticketing website, with a team that included her fiancé at the time, Kevin Hartz.
That was in January 2006. Today, Eventbrite is on track for almost $300 million in annual sales, and Ms. Hartz has made the transition from president to chief executive, a job she took over from her husband.
Though Ms. Hartz didn’t aspire to get into the technology industry, it was never far away. She grew up near Silicon Valley. She worked in Hollywood just as companies like YouTube were starting to disrupt the media business. And in Mr. Hartz, she found a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who had founded a money transfer service, Xoom, and made early bets on PayPal, Pinterest and Airbnb.
The couple got engaged in April 2005, started Eventbrite nine months later and got married five months after that. In 2016, Ms. Hartz became chief executive, allowing Kevin to return to investing and entrepreneurship. And last September, Ms. Hartz took Eventbrite public, making her among the few women to lead the successful initial public offering of a technology start-up.
This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at Soho House in New York.
What was your childhood like?
My mom and dad had my brother, had me, and then realized that they were best friends, but not great at being married. So they decided to split, but made a pact to always stay close. That decision cast the die for me in a very positive way.
What was your first job?
I was about 14, and I worked at a new coffee shop called the Ugly Mug on weekends. I would get there before it was light out and open up. From the Ugly Mug on, I’ve never not worked.
That’s a huge disparity I see with kids today. No kids work. At least no kids in our neighborhood in San Francisco, which is totally nuts. Working was one of the most important things for me. My daughter will work, and it will be at something like a coffee shop.
How did you wind up at Pepperdine University?
In my senior year of high school, I interned for Dina Ruiz, who was a local anchorwoman in Monterey. She gave me the seedling of an idea that I could become a broadcaster. I did my research and I came up with Pepperdine, but it was incredibly expensive. I got in early admission, and had no way of affording the school. So I signed up for U.C. Santa Barbara.
But my mom said, “If you really want to go to Pepperdine, you should tell them that.” So I wrote them a letter. Then, two days before I had to put down a deposit on U.C.S.B., I got this huge packet in the mail, and it was a complete financial aid package from Pepperdine.
How did you get started in Hollywood?
My first internship was on the set of “Friends,” at the height of the frenzy. My job was to hold the phone, and if it rang, I had to answer it and go find the person who was wanted. That was the worst job for me because A, I hate talking on the phone, and B, I’m kind of shy. I’d be standing there, and the phone would ring, and it would be like, “Hey, it’s Brad, can you get Jen for me?” And I’m like, “This sucks.”
I hated it. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough because of the energy. I’m an energy person. Maybe it was growing up in Santa Cruz or maybe I was just born with it, but human energy, I just feel it so much.
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David Gelles writes the Corner Office column and other features for The New York Times’s Sunday Business section, To learn more about him and his work, please click here.
To learn more about him and his work, please click here.