Lawsuit Accuses Ticketmaster Of Hacking Rivals’ Databases To Steal Plans

Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk

It’s a pretty common rule, in the working world: When you leave one company and go to another, you generally lose access to internal, private documentation and plans the first company had. But a Ticketmaster rival claims that when one of their top executives left, not only did he keep documents he shouldn’t have, but also kept accessing his old company’s active databases to use their new records for Ticketmaster.

The new allegations were filed in federal court on Wednesday as an amendment to an earlier suit that CrowdSurge and Songkick filed against Ticketmaster in 2015, Variety reports.

CrowdSurge and Songkick are startups that formed over the past decade to allow performing artists to sell event tickets directly to fans — in other words, without going through Ticketmaster and forcing fans to rack up enormous fees to attend concerts. The two merged in 2015 and continue to do business as Songkick.

The allegations center around executive Stephen Mead, who was among CrowdSurge’s top leadership until he left the company in 2012.

At the time, according to the suit, Mead signed a separation agreement in which he specifically agreed not to disclose the company’s confidential information. Yet less than a year later he began employment at a Ticketmaster company — and began sharing the trade secrets with his new gig.

He brought roughly 85,000 company documents with him on his laptop when he left CrowdSurge, Songkick claims. According to documents provided in the filing, Variety reports, Mead then began providing reports on CrowdSurge to his new bosses, to compare it directly to Ticketmaster’s platform.

The reports also included user names and passwords to the CrowdSurge internal “toolboxes” for three artists, which included ticketing, merch sale, and customer data.

“I must stress that as this is access to a live CS tool I would be careful in what you click on as it would be best not the giveaway that we are snooping around,” one email from January, 2014 shows Mead as writing, while telling his Ticketmaster colleagues they could feel free to capture and share screenshots of the CrowdSurge data.

In short: The guy who left the company was allegedly sharing passwords with the new company so they could all log into the old company’s database and rummage around in there for whatever they wanted.

Mead also showed Ticketmaster employees how to access internal CrowdSurge tests sites for potential new clients, which Ticketmaster was then able to use in order to identify and pressure artists to sign deals with Ticketmaster instead, the suit claims.

In a statement to Variety, Live Nation and Ticketmaster denied that the complaint has any merit. “Songkick’s amended complaint is based on the alleged misappropriation of information that Songkick did not even try to keep secret, in some cases could not have kept secret, and in some cases shared with artist managers that work for Live Nation,” the companies said. “The claims have no legal merit and Live Nation and Ticketmaster will continue to vigorously defend this case.”