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StubHub President speaks at Wharton on 10/29/14 Credit: Irina Bit-Babik , Irina Bit-Babik

Chris Tsakalakis, a Wharton graduate , always had an interest in technology, but did not have the courage to step into the industry upon graduation. Now, Tsakalakis is the general manager of eBay Tickets and the president of StubHub .

“The interest I had in technology started at an early age but I didn’t do much about it until it got to the point that I hated my job,” he said at a lecture sponsored by Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative Wednesday night. Tsakalakis’ speech took a conversational tone, even using profanity at points and mentioning that he lived among what others termed as the “freaks, faggots and foreigners,” at Van Pelt Manor — also known as Gregory College House. He classified himself as one of the “freaks” then, but now is a successful businessman thanks to a leap of courage.

After leaving his consulting job at Bain & Company, Tsakalakis moved to San Fransisco to do what he really wanted. “You’re only gonna be more successful if you do the work and spend the hours. That only comes from passion.”

After graduating from the Wharton School with a BS in Economics , Tsakalakis entered e-commerce as a consultant at Bain & Company in 1996 and began work for eBay in 2003.

Tsakalakis’ reign at StubHub has played a crucial role in its expansion into the largest ticketing company in the world and a chief sponsor of sports and entertainment. The value of tickets sold on StubHub last year was 6.5 times what it was in 2006 while the value sold on eBay was half of what it was in 2006. Tsakalakis was working at in 2007 when it bought StubHub, a more developed ticketing platform. He went to StubHub after the acquisition.

StubHub has 120 sports partners worldwide for which it provides revenue as well as data on pricing and buyers. StubHub sells more tickets than many official ticket sellers of various sports teams, such as the National Football League. Several years ago, people had varying views of StubHub; today, people in the sports industry understand that the secondary marketplace is here to stay. “What we do is bring buyers and sellers together,” Tsakalakis said. “We think of it as a fun-delivery business.”

As a first-generation college student with immigrant parents, Tsakalakis found his college experience to be eye-opening. “In addition to being part of Wharton, I was also part of Penn. I learned so much from my fellow students,” he said.

Senior Associate Director of Student Life for Wharton’s MBA Program Eric Morin said that although they don’t often partner with student groups, they felt a partnership would be beneficial for this event since “now students are so interested in data and analytics.”

“Prominent alumni in a really relevant field are no brainers for us to try and bring in to give a lot of perspective,” Morin said. Adrian Wong, a second year Wharton MBA student, enjoyed the speaker’s tone for the lecture. “He’s very friendly and has a very strong business background.”

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