Combining different colors of paint to create a stunning combination is the story of art history, so it is only fitting that the concept be extended to companies that are innovating the way art is bought and sold.
Today, the New York Times reported that Paddle8 is merging with a German company called Auctionata — a perfect mix that has the potential to become a masterpiece. Combined, the two companies will serve 800,000 collectors, generated $140M in revenue last year, and we have Richard Serra-sized aspirations for what they’ll accomplish going forward.
That confidence stems from our belief in the core team. At Founder Collective we’re obsessed with the notion of founder/market fit. Read this profile of Alexander Gilkes and you’ll understand why we were so excited for the opportunity to invest in Alex and his co-founders Aditya Julka and Osman Khan back in 2010.
Filling in the Blank Canvas
No artist wants to appear derivative and fortunately each company has carved a niche in terms of product speciality. Paddle8 is strong in contemporary art and design (and interesting ephemera like Kurt Cobain’s credit card and the final Wu-Tang album) while Auctionata specializes in vintage luxury goods (along with the occasional Stegosaurus skeleton). The combined entity has potential to make art more accessible to a wider, global audience by uniting Paddle8’s reach in the US with Auctionata’s scale in Europe.
Not since the pairing of Braque and Picasso has a creative partnership resulted in this much formal innovation. Each company brings a strong perspective towards the user experience. Paddle8 focuses on timed auctions, think Ebay for Egon Schiele, where Auctionata attempts to recreated the sophisticated, interactive excitement of an upscale auction house through live streaming. Now buyers won’t have to choose.
One might wonder how you prevent this much creative energy from becoming a mess. Fortunately, the Paddle8 team has a knack for surrounding themselves with strong investors/critics in the form of David Zwirner, gallery owner par excellence, and Damien Hirst, arguably the most influential artist living today — both of whom will continue guiding the company.
The team at Founder Collective is thrilled with the outcome and looks forward to future collaborations and exhibitions.