Where does Kathy Willard find the time? As CFO of the giant entertainment and e-commerce company Live Nation Entertainment since 2007, Willard has handled the financial details of multiple divestitures, spin-offs and more than 200 acquisitions, including the prized though contentious acquisition of Ticketmaster in 2010. She then pulled off a complex post-merger refinancing and integration of two massive companies, forging a singular business that has no equal in the industry. Today, Willard manages an extraordinary global financial structure that supports more than 11,000 venue clients like New York’s Madison Square Garden for which Ticketmaster sells tickets, and supports the concert tours at these venues that Live Nation secures for more than 2,000 artists, about 20,000 shows each year.
Willard is also in charge of the finances of the 128 venues that Live Nation owns or operates as a concert promoter, such as the House of Blues franchise, the Fillmore brand and the Hollywood Palladium.
Of the more than 200 acquisitions whose financial aspects Willard has overseen since coming on board, none were like Ticketmaster. As soon as the deal was announced, angry fans, artists and politicians weighed in with stern opposition. “This merger would give a giant, new entity unrivaled power over concert-goers and the prices they pay,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned DealBook. “It must be viewed skeptically and scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb.”
Live Nation fired back, arguing that consumers would benefit because the combined entity would make it easier for ticket buyers to pick the seats they wanted online, thereby bypassing the “sticker shock” caused when ticket-handling fees are tacked on to the admission price. In testimony before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, Azoff disputed allegations of antitrust violations. In this era of technological innovation, he argued that Ticketmaster confronted greater competition from new ticketing software developed by the venues themselves to sidestep Ticketmaster.