Viagogo is raising its game in the United States.
The universally-vilified secondary ticketing merchant is quietly preparing to relocate its operations away from the U.K. to U.S. in an effort, some say, will help it to stay one step ahead of competition authorities.
Sources tell the Guardian that senior staff began receiving memos in May of corporate plans to move their jobs to New York in May. “Several senior developers have already relocated, but they’re mostly people that have been at Viagogo since nearly day one and so are probably invested in the company,” the source tells the British broadsheet. “A few others are moving in the next couple of months, and others are leaving very soon.”
This move would appear to be based on so much more than strategy. Back in April, the Competition and Markets Authority warned that Viagogo was risking legal action for suspected breaches of consumer law and, soon after, National Trading Standards launched its own probe into “misleading” pricing.
Despised by promoters, hounded by consumer watchdogs and the bane of ticket buyers, Viagogo tends to operate under a cone of silence. There’s certainly no doubt Viagogo has entered an expansion mode in the world’s biggest music market. Through a recruitment section on Viagogo’s website, the company is head-hunting candidates for tech, administrator and other positions in its east coast team, as well as in other territories around the globe, including Limerick, Shanghai and Taipei.
The company, however, is not seeking staff for its office in London’s Fenchurch Street, which counted nearly 100 employees last year, Companies House filings reveal.
The Guardian has found further proof of Viagogo’s U.S. expansion plans through the unlikely source of a ticket tout, who explained that the company is now paying them for their sales through a Delaware, U.S. account instead of its Swiss HQ, Viagogo AG.
Angered by its “shifty, slippery and secretive” behaviour, a pair of MPs and promoters last year attempted to doorstop Viagogo staff at its London premises.
There’s no love for Viagogo in these parts. In August of last year, the ACCC launched legal action against Viagogo in Australia, claiming the Switzerland-based business made false or misleading representations and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct with the price of tickets by failing to disclose substantial fees. Live Performance Australia and Choice warmly welcomed the move. “I’m pleased to see the federal and state governments really moving on Viagogo and other ticket on-sellers,” legendary promoter Michael Chugg tells TIO.
The progress of the CMA and Trading Standards probes shouldn’t be undermined by Viagogo’s move west, the Guardian notes, though it could “make life more difficult” for U.K. MPs attempting to coax Viagogo executives into participating in a select committee hearing scheduled for next month.
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