On Tuesday, one of our most recent portfolio companies, Otis, came out of stealth and announced its public launch.
Otis is founded by Michael Karnjanaprakorn, and is focused on creating a marketplace that enables fractional ownership of culturally relevant assets. That sentence is quite a mouthful :), so I wanted to share a bit more about why we were excited by the team and concept and were the first investors to join them on this journey.
Investing pre-launch is largely about building conviction around a founder. In our view, Michael is an extremely high-potential founder that we have known for almost as long as NextView has been around. We actually spoke to Michael about his last company, Skillshare, before we got our first fund completely up and running. We were always impressed with his vision and product talent, but the timing of his raise and our own fund didn’t quite line up. Skillshare went on to raise capital from some of the best in the business, and grow to be a substantial company. Michael has a real super-power around identifying outstanding talent, building beautifully designed products, and anticipating the way culture and consumer behavior is shifting. He’s the exact kind of founder that we look to back at NextView, and so I kept in close touch with Michael as he started to think through what might be next for him.
The idea behind Otis is to create a more liquid marketplace for the ownership of high-value, culturally relevant assets. This includes things like fine art, sneakers, collectables, watches, and others. This really resonated from my experience at Ebay, where I was first exposed to the astonishing level of enthusiasm that millions of consumers have around collectables.
In particular, there are two things that really excited me about this idea.
The first is that I have a deep belief in the efficiency that is created when you take a large, opaque industry and inject it with software and market forces. Before Otis, participating in these markets would be restricted only to those with a ton of cash, would require investors to tolerate very limited liquidity, and require very controlled transactions managed by gatekeepers that extract significant rents. Otis hopes to change all of these things. It will be hard to predict exactly what this will mean for the way these markets operate. But I believe that when you make a market accessible to many more participants and create transparency and liquidity, good things happen for buyers and sellers.
The second is that we are in a moment in time where brands and creators have an unprecedented level of direct communication with their community of fans. However, there is largely a disconnect between the number of people who might be enthusiastic about a particular creator’s work and the number who can become active patrons. Otis will provide a powerful new avenue for creators and brands to engage with their community to establish a true market price for their work. I think this will be particularly powerful for emerging artists and creators that are most culturally relevant today.
It’s very early days for Otis, but we are so excited for the road ahead. We are grateful to Michael and his team for having the trust in us to be his partner in this business from the beginning. Download the Otis app here and browse their upcoming drops! https://withotis.com/