Paddle8 scores $34M to bring art auctions online

by Taylor Majewski
October 28, 2015

A competitor to auction powerhouses like Christie's and Sotheby’s, Paddle8 is a startup that is challenging age-old businesses in the art world. The company is an online auction house for art and luxury collectibles, and helps collectors easily sell and buy works through its digital platform. Today, Paddle8 announced it raised $34 million in a Series C round.

With the new round of funding, Paddle8 plans to focus on international expansion across the U.S. and Europe and on hiring talent in all areas of the business. The company is also placing a particular emphasis on growing the company’s engineering team.

The round drew a number of new investors from the art world, including international art dealer, David Zwirner, German collector, Rolf Sachs and artist, Damien Hirst.

"We are truly interested in how Paddle8 uses technology to bring innovation in the art world—which has historically been resistant to change—through smart digital platforms,” said David Zwirner, in a statement.

Over the past three months, the company has seen a 37 percent increase in mobile traffic, and a 10 percent increase in mobile bids through the company’s app. As such, Paddle8 plans to develop its mobile channels with the new round. The company will invest more into its app’s capabilities in an attempt to draw millennial collectors. Unlike Sotheby’s and Christie’s, Paddle 8 holds lower priced auctions, with the company’s inventory typically priced in the “mid-market” auction space—between $1,000 to $100,000.

Last year, the company’s total revenue rounded out at about $35.8 million last year, placing Paddle 8 ahead of its auction house competitors. In the first half of 2015, the company’s total revenue reached $25 million.

Incorporating technology into the tradition-driven art industry has been no easy feat for startups. But the rise of digital platforms are taking the once elitist art world online and making it more accessible as a whole. Paddle8 is capitalizing on this opportunity.

“Paddle8 was founded to fill an existing gap in the market for an accessible, trusted and well-designed online marketplace for collectors to buy and sell art and high-end luxury collectibles, “ said Osman Khan, cofounder of Paddle 8, in a statement. “For us, it wasn’t only about making the buying and selling process easier, it was about democratizing art and innovating in an industry that seemed resistant to change.”

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