Aug 11, 2022 2 min read

Ticketing and events company Pollen falls into administration

The ticketing and travel company Pollen – which previously operated as Verve and before that StreetTeam – has fallen into administration after months of speculation about its future, as aggrieved customers and employees became increasingly vocal on social media.

The Pollen business originally grew out of two companies – The Physical Network and We Represent – both of which used ‘peer-to-peer marketing’ to sell tickets to events and especially festivals. That basically meant encouraging fans to promote shows and sell tickets through their social networks, earning rewards in return for their efforts.

As the business grew and rebranded, Pollen expanded its operations, putting together and selling special travel packages and premium experiences around shows and festivals, and working with various partners on specially curated events.

Of late it has presented its offering via two strands, Pollen Presents which “curates experiences around your tastes and preferences you can’t find anywhere else”, and Pollen+ which “always gets you more at music festivals and events”.

Like everyone in the live and ticketing sectors, Pollen faced plenty of challenges during the COVID lockdowns. Nevertheless, in April this year it announced that it had raised $150 million in new investment, with the company saying that it had enjoyed “stellar growth despite the pandemic”, and that the new monies would help it build on its existing “significant momentum”.

However, the company was already receiving criticism online from ticket-buyers regarding the communications around certain events that had been cancelled, and its system for issuing refunds.

And then, just a month after announcing the big new cash boost, the company made more than 150 of its staff redundant. At the time co-founder and CEO Callum Negus-Fancey insisted that those redundancies were part of a commitment that had been made to the new investors to cut the firm’s overheads, and that no further down-sizing was planned.

But then rumours started to spread that employees still working for the company were experiencing delays in receiving their salaries, while at least one supplier said that their invoices were going unpaid.

Staff members also complained about poor internal communications regarding the financial problems, saying that they were simply told a big deal was incoming that would fix things, but that no further information on that deal was forthcoming.

Yesterday the Pollen parent company – which is still called StreetTeam Software Ltd – confirmed that administrators from Kroll were being called in to oversee a restructuring of the business. It was confirmed that efforts to sell the entire Pollen group have been unsuccessful, but that it’s hoped deals can still be done regarding the specific strands of the company.

In a statement, it said: “The holding company sells its travel experiences through its subsidiary businesses, and they will continue to trade as normal. Bids have already been received for the customer-facing subsidiary companies, meaning customer experiences and refunds will not be affected. The management team have been in ongoing negotiations with a potential buyer for the parent company but have been unable to agree to terms in an appropriate time frame, leaving the board and shareholders agreeing the best option is to restructure the business”.

“Despite strong growth since StreetTeam Software Ltd’s inception eight years ago”, it went on, “the knock-on effects of COVID-19 over the last two years, which decimated much of the travel sector, together with the tech stock crash and current consumer uncertainty in light of global economic conditions, put too much pressure on the business whilst at a critical stage of a scale-up’s maturity”.

“The management team are working hard to get the best outcome for all stakeholders”, the statement concluded, “whilst working with shareholders to find affected employees alternative positions in their portfolio of companies”.

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