StubHub Labs: A Mobile-First Innovation Machine

eBay Inc. Staff


Fans know StubHub as the place to buy and sell tickets, but apps like the new StubHub Local target users who don’t even know what they want to do yet, helping them discover fun events nearby.

StubHub Local taps into the StubHub catalog of activities spanning movies, live shows, restaurants and more. Built in less than four weeks, the mobile web app offers a simple, intuitive way to discover things to do. The user just can filter by type of activity, location and date, and a customized list comes up.  

“We worked with the content team at StubHub  to figure out the most interesting activities that people look for,” said Jay Vasudevan, the product manager. “StubHub focuses on big stars, major teams – our users go to an average of six major events per year. However, the StubHub catalog is much deeper and we can also provide our customers with listings of smaller events and local activities -.”

“Our mission with StubHub Local is to help the user discover interesting activities within three to five clicks.”

StubHub Local is the product of StubHub Labs, a team that’s focused on making StubHub a leading source for fans to access, discover and share information about events. Using mobile as the testing ground for its innovations, the team has already iterated and rolled out several apps.

“Our focus is on the fan experience, end to end from discovery to social planning to purchase and going,” said Gary Kanazawa, the head of StubHub Labs. “We want to serve fans, and at the end of the day, that’s what this is about.”

“This is a test and learn organization. We’re focused on doing very rapid development, talking to customers, analyzing customer usage data, iterating and launching products to fail or succeed quickly.”

But while the team has big ambitions, SHL keeps things small in order to iterate and improve quickly. The lean product teams typically have just one product manager, one designer and one developer. Typically, they’ll build an app, quickly test it internally to get the kinks out, roll it out to the public and continue to listen to feedback for ongoing improvements. If it is successful, StubHub will build it at scale.

StubHub Local is still in beta, but the team has already gotten positive feedback on the simple interface and the wide variety of activities that surprise and delight the users.

“Our audience is increasingly moving from desktop to mobile, and so we’re really focused on mobile first,” Kanazawa said.

Learn more about StubHub Labs apps:

StubHub Local

StubHub Local is a mobile web app that offers an efficient way to discover “things to do”, based on categories of activities, time, and location provided by you, the user.


ShowDrift, the first SHL product, recommends upcoming shows based on the user’s iTunes playlist. It grew out of research conducted at SXSW, the technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas.

5 Things To Do

Unlike the average StubHub user, Five Things attracts primarily a female audience with its themed lists of five things to do (5 things to do in San Francisco for jazz fans, 5 things to do when the government shuts down). “We wanted to leverage the existing audience, but also bring in a new one,” Kanazawa explained. “Five Things was probably built in a few weeks on the mobile web.” We are also leveraging the content to grow a community on Facebook that actively shares the content, leading to organic growth of the audience:


EventQrious is an app developed as part of a unique StubHub hackathon where teams built apps that were launched to a small audience of real customers. Teams analyzed customer data, iterated with updates and winners were chosen based on customer data for virality, session length and revisit rate.  With this app, you can find cheap or free events. Currently only in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Explore by StubHub (iPad)

This iPad app offers city guides for NYC, hoping to inspire the users with itineraries such as “As seen on TV” “NYC Fashion Week” and “Harlem in 4 hours.” 


Another hackathon app that leverages the rich media content in the StubHub catalog and provides a laid-back experience that helps users discover new artists coming to town by listening to their music and watching their videos.