With its $72 million acquisition this month of VenueNext, Shift4 Payments has big plans to push aside competition when it comes to stadium, theme park and entertainment venue experiences.
"We're in a position, just surveying the competitive landscape, to go and literally displace almost every one of the software players that lives in that sports and entertainment, theme park and other entertainment venue market." Jared Isaacman, CEO of payments facilitator Shift4, said at the Wolfe Research fintech conference yesterday.
Sports entertainment has been a crowded field for payments players of late, with companies gearing up for the post-COVID-19 return to in-person events, particularly stadium games. Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres team said this week it will shift to a cashless stadium experience, teaming with the global payment and data company Tappit for the move. The Dallas Mavericks NBA team has been accepting Bitcoin through its blockchain payment processing partner Bitpay for nearly two years, and this week said it would also start accepting Dogecoin.
VenueNext, created in 2014 by the San Francisco 49ers in tandem with the development of Levi's Stadium, now provides its software tools across a variety of venues, enabling shopping and payment options for both professional and collegiate level sports, including customers that include the Chicago Bulls, the Minnesota Vikings and Ohio State. Its extended its reach to theme parks too, including Six Flags.
Isaacman also said he expects VenueNext software to change the fan experience, ultimately allowing them to make in-seat purchases of food and merchandise and to engage in mobile sports betting. Shift4 partnered with Sightline Payments in January to develop sports betting and online gaming.
The company expects between $2.5 billion to $3 billion in additional payment volume from the VenueNext acquisition by 2023. That's just over 10% of the $36 billion to $38 billion in overall volume the company predicts for this year, according to a March 4 shareholder letter.
Shift4, with $767 million in annual revenue last year, has so far principally focused its business on hotels and restaurants, but Isaacman said that the company is looking to carve out any business niche where it can play a role in integrating a variety of software applications.
"It's not a surprise that we moved into stadiums because it's the same thing — lots of different software under a single roof that needs to come together and deliver a great experience for the fans," Isaacman said during the Wolfe virtual conference.
Shift4 currently counts about 200,000 businesses as clients. Hospitals, higher education and non-profit settings are also arenas that might be ripe for its services, he said.