The Democratization of Art
(Limited Editions x Low Prices) + The Internet = 20×200
It is time to say hello to the democratization of Art.
Shortly after the 2000 tech melt-down, Jen Bekman left San Francisco behind and moved to New York to start an art gallery. She may have left the West Coast, but she could not leave the Silicon Valley state of mind. And then Jen had an idea in September, 2007: (Limited Editions x Low Prices) + The Internet = Art for Everyone.
And what an idea it is – in just two years since bootstrapping a now cash flow positive 20×200, the site has won the hearts of art lovers, selling over 50,000 prints to date, to a customer list that includes artists, celebrities, and respected collectors from around the world. 20×200′s approach is to sell limited-edition prints and photography at prices low enough to attract first-time collectors, starting at $20 for a print from a run of 200. If you want to start collecting, 20×200 is an awesome place to start. Prints are beautifully produced, packaged, and priced inexpensively. If you are an artist looking to take advantage of the reach of the Internet, 20×200 is the place to reach a deeply engaged, large community of new and experienced art collectors.
Beginning of this year, a friend told me about 20×200 and offered to make an introduction. I declined, it is the “Art space” after all, and we all know that Art and venture capital has historically been challenging . . . but I kept hearing about 20×200 from people I respect (Sarah Lacy, Bryan Mason, Anil Dash, David Mahoney) and from Artists who partner with 20×200 to make their works of art available on the Internet (Mike Monteiro, Geoffrey Ellis, Lisa Congdon). When we finally met this past summer, I was immediately wowed by the potential of Jen’s vision to leverage the Internet to lower the velvet rope to the Art world and make collecting accessible to everyone. Shortly thereafter, Jon, Om, and I went to New York, and we met with Jen at Taralucci e Vino near Union Square. When we left that coffee shop, we had the feeling that we had just met the perfect person to disrupt the staid art world.
Today, we are extremely happy to announce our lead investment in 20×200. Of the few industries that have resisted taking part in new media, few are more glamorous than Art. Long the product of mysterious galleries and opaque pricing schemes, art has historically been accessible only to a privileged few. In starting a company, as in life, timing is everything, and it is often said that being too early is the same as being wrong, so we have stayed out of the Art market until now. We think the timing is finally right for a company like 20×200 to make Art available to everyone, and 20×200 is today’s catalyst in ushering the Art market into the digital age.
We are also excited about our co-investors, as we believe one of the first signs of great companies is the type of entrepreneurs and angel investors they are able to get in their corner. Jen has brought together an experienced group including: Caterina Fake (CEO Hunch, co-Founder Flickr), Chris Dixon (Founder Hunch & SiteAdvisor), Zach Klein (Boxee & lots of impressive stuff), James Joaquin (CEO Xmarks & former CEO of Ofoto), Scott Heiferman (CEO/Founder Meetup), David Mahoney (SFMOMA Board of Trustees member & super angel investor), Nion McEvoy (CEO of Chronicle Books & SFMOMA Board of Trustees member), and Brendan McGovern (CFO Meetup).
True strives to work with passionate and talented visionaries, and Jen is the latest great example of the type of people we admire and respect. She is tenacious and her deep domain expertise gives 20×200 a unique perspective that we believe translates into an unfair advantage. We are honored that 20×200 chose True Ventures as an investor, given that this team had no shortage of options when it came to raising their Series A funding.
It is a big idea. One built of a lot of little pieces.