Artsy, the five-year-old startup that raised $26m and has 90 employees, released some numbers early this year on their site. Fortune magazine picked them up and made a story out of it. The story tries to answer the question, what’s the future for a company like Artsy.
They quote CEO Carter Cleveland who says galleries pay between $375 and $1400
annually monthly. (Update: Artsy says Fortune made a mistake citing the fees as annually.) “We’re consciously leaving a lot of money on the table,” he says.
Artsy currently makes money two ways. First, it charges the galleries and art fairs a monthly subscription fee to access to the platform. (Thirty-seven art fairs used Artsy in 2014, including Art Basel, the Armory Show, and Frieze.) Second, it takes a small commission on benefit auctions, such as the Whitney Art Party and Brooklyn Museum Artists Ball.
Artsy won’t release revenue figures, though if all of the galleries signed up (see below) are paying an average that’s close to the low end, that’s still $1m a month (or $130k per employee every year.)
Since opening its online platform to galleries in 2012, more than 2,500 of them have published artworks on Artsy. So have 400 museums and foundations, including the Guggenheim and the New Museum. The company has a long way to go before it reaches ubiquity—there are about 150,000 galleries in the world.
Update: The unanswered question is can it generate enough revenue to justify the $26m in capital investment. Quantcast currently ranks Artsy.net at 83,502 among websites. Artsy doesn’t report its traffic but the many other sites that do and are tied for 83,502nd place on Quantcast got 13,319 visitors in December from the United States.
That number doesn’t represent all of Artsy’s traffic, it may be a quarter of even less.
Update: Michelle Finocchi, Artsy’s spokesman, says their internal numbers show an average of 500,000 unique visitors per month.