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Source: Dezeen

The following is a business development proposal for online platform, Artsy. Founded in 2008, Artsy works with “galleries, museums, and artists’ estates to get their art online” and make it accessible for any audience while simultaneously creating art-based educational content (Dazed, 2013). Artsy has since gained incredible traction and has become a reputable source of information in the art world despite its relatively short time in the art scene. This firm’s unique position as an art tech company created an interesting case study. Despite its content and partners being deeply woven into the art world fabric, the company’s internal structure fuctions more similar to a fast-paced tech startup. This proposal aims to pitch a new business partnership between Artsy and Airbnb during select art fairs. The campaign would equally benefit both companies and aligns squarely with the core values of both firms.

CONTENTS 1 | ARTSY’S CURRENT STRATEGY 1.1 Current Mission, Structure, and Operations 1.2 Current Capabilities and Competences 1.3 Current Marketing and Cultural Strategy

2 | NEED FOR NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT 2.1 New Business Opportunity 2.2 New Skills, Roles, and Capabilities that are Required


3.1 New Marketing and Cultural Strategy 3.2 Key Success Indicators for the New Business Development 3.3 Main Risks Associated with the New Business Development




CONNORS / Summer-record, 2011, Oil on canvas, 216 x 153 cm



1. 1 Mission, Structure, and Operations Mission, Vision, and Core Values Artsy’s founder and CEO, Carter Cleveland, describes a company’s vision and mission as “where your company is going” (Artsy, 2015). For Artsy, this has always been “to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection,” aiming to be “a resource for art collecting and education” (Artsy, 2017).

striving towards the same goal. While unclear values might not affect a small team as much due to the frequency of communication that informs efficient decisions, as the team grows the lack of these crucial interactions across all departments begin to cause problems (Artsy, 2015). Many companies resort to top-down bureaucratic policies as a way to solve the issue and guide decision-making (Artsy, 2015). However this process can stunt creativity and growth, “mak[ing] it harder to attract and retain top talent that thrives on freedom and responsibility” (Artsy, 2015). While “openness” as a value sounds rather vague, Cleveland makes reference to the company’s use of “open source by default policy” as an example of how openness as a value “empowers [their] engineers to make the decision to open source code autonomously” (Artsy, 2015). Over the years Artsy has reevaluated their core values several times, but strongly promoting openness their team has been able to “mitigate fear of judgment and embrace mistakes as positive experiences to learn from and share with others” (Artsy, 2015).

In several interviews Cleveland has mentioned that Arty’s vision is essentially to facilitate an environment to nurture “a world where art is as popular as music” (Artsy, 2015). The Artsy founder defines core values as how to take a company from where it is to where it wants to be. Artsy’s five core values: Art x Science, People are Paramount, Quality Worthy of Art, Positive Energy, and most importantly, Openness (see Table 1) (Artsy, 2017). In a post Cleveland wrote for the site’s blog, he mentions that “undefined values can lead to compounding culture debt” (Artsy, 2015). What he means is that by having clearly defined values, each member of a team can work confidently knowing they are



We believe in uniting empathy with logic, emotion with data, and intuition with research in everything we do. Whether in business strategy or design, culture or code, we seek the magic that happens when the often separate worlds of art and science come together.


We spend extraordinary energy finding the best person for a job—and once found, we give them the trust and autonomy to be CEO of their role. We avoid pointless bureaucracy and prefer to empower people with information rather than limit them with process.


We aim to create an experience worthy of all the world’s art and so hold ourselves to the highest standards in all our work. We believe that the best long term quality comes from rapid shipping, iterating, and learning as we go.


We know positivity and optimism benefit our work, and we harness positive energy as a vehicle towards greater awareness, growth, and collaboration. We believe in cultivating a positive relationship to art as opposed to one based on exclusivity or scarcity.


We believe in being open with each other and the world—whether in open-sourcing our code, sharing feedback, or building a diverse and inclusive work culture. We believe in bringing our full selves to work and manifesting an open world where everyone has access to art.

Source: Artsy, 2017 Table 1: Artsy’s Five Core Values


Board of Directors, Chief Officers, HR, Finance & Accounting, Marketing, etc

CLIENT RELATIONS Gallery, Brand, Fair, Institution, Collector, etc



Engineering, Design, Product Development, Art Genome Project, App, Web development


Gallery, Brand, Fair, Institution, Collector, etc

Writers, Editors, Content Development, etc

Figure 1: Artsy’s inferred organizational structure


BEVILACQUA / Surface to Air, 2004, Acrylic on linen (triptych), each 182.9 x 243.8 cm

Organizational Structure As Artsy doesn’t disclose their internal organizational structure publicly on their website, one has been inferred from a survey of Glassdoor, AngelList, and LinkedIn as well as the careers page on their website. Based on their company verticals, this proposal deduced the company is comprised of five major areas which can be further broken down into different managerial positions and departments. The five major divisions should be made up of their: internal structure, Partnership department, Client Relations, Editorial branch, and their Development team (Figure 1). While Artsy has scaled exponentially in the last five years listing 51-200 employees on LinkedIn, the team might be closer to 100 (having previously reported 70-80 staff in 2016) and running extremely lean (Cleveland, 2016). In an interview with Katarina Batina, Product Designer/Mobile Product Lead at Artsy last year, she mentions that the design team was only made up of six: “four devoted product designers, one visual communication designer, and the head of product, who was also a designer,” with each person taking a lead or one or two products at a time (Medium, 2016). In terms of organizational design, Artsy sits somewhere between a Mechanistic and Organic organization however it probably leans more to the organic side as most tech startups do. While it is a large firm for an art business, it still runs fairly organically. Communication appears to be extensive and their website offers a breadth of specialism. Their administrative component and authority levels are undisclosed, but most likely run somewhere in-between. While Artsy appears to run on a high standardization, formalization and concentrated centralization on the outside, several interviews with employees have indicated otherwise.


CONTINGENCY THEORY Contingency theory is an organizational concept that specifically considers how firms function, react, and adapt to their environments (Clegg et al, 2016). As there is no perfect way to operate a company, this theory examines how management and decision-making shift and adjust. If organizations are frequently seeking change in order to survive, this is a signal that the environment itself is unstable or continuously changing (Samdanis, 2017). Since its conception Artsy has undergone several changes, especially when its environment involves constantly shifting art world trends and the exponential development of technology in the last decade. Artsy strongly benefited from Cleveland’s computer science background and the company’s early days in Silicon Valley, both of which have an inherent connection with iterative design. Below table 2 considers a few points of contingency for Artsy. As contingency theory is based off of responding to changing circumstances, a PESTLE analysis has been undertaken in table 3 to assess several external factors that also exist.


- current politilca climate remains uncertain - international tech company; based in NYC but essentially functions wherever the market is because it is online - part of a growng number of heavily funded art tech/art startups - part of the art publication community - active role in the art ecosystem amongst dealer, gallery, and auction sales skeptical online art sales environment despite its growing market share in proportion to private and auction sales - huge moment for big data and issues of security, especially dealing with the online environment - open-source coding community - includes all art lovers; not just patrons, and world professionals and those heavily invested in the art world


- online-based company - constantly updating and accumulating information for its database - continually trying to use its website data entry in different ways, especially to engage its users; ex. by “saving” artworks (similar to Pinterest or Artstack) or creating Artsy app for accessibility to encourage use - offers online art fair previews for more than 60 major art fairs including Art Basel, Frieze, The Armory Show, and Design/Miami - allows you to “follow” certain artists, galleries, or museums with alerts for updates - Art Genome Project; tagging art with “genes” or “characteristics” to make connection between genres, subject matter, time period, etc - high-resolution images can be used for teaching and education - e-commerce


51-200 employees based on LinkedIn

Source: Artsy Website and LinkedIn Table 2: Several Points of Contingency










- current US presidency and global political climate remain uncertain - unsure of what ramifications wil come with those working on visas - political and economic doubt typically bred uncertainty in art market - company is based in NYC

- has global audience so if the US market (or any other market) temporarily stalls or becomes unsteady Artsy should be able to hang on

- currency fluctuation - market contraction due to decreased lot numbers, less top quality works at auction, buyers are more cautious and selective - rising emerging markets with relatively low prices - extremely high prices for categories like Post-War and Contemporary

- international users/buyers so even if USD is weak, they are still ok position - own none of the works; just connect buyers to selling channels

- market runs on validation and exclusivity; means by which value is created - competitive environment but also relies heavily on its ecosystem to survive - people are growing more comfortable with online sales but still cautious and unwilling to spend too much

- selling art online but mostly through secure and traditional channels; through dealers, galleries, auction sales, direct buyers - has its own free-of-charge specialists on staff to help source works, give advice, etc

- environment constantly changing - art tech industry is growing - strong level of investment in recent years - consolidation in art tech and fin art is on the horizon but this has been slow - exists in online art sales ecosystem

- Artsy run on Open Source by Default - continuously growing their database and partner list - developing new uses for their data collection - experiments with new uses for tech to create value for their consumer ex. online art fair previews, to educate - Art Genome Project - acquired ArtAdvisor (data science art start up)

- limitations on buyers who cannot take wealth in and out of home country easily - crackdown on laws in some markets like China’s Anti-Graft campaign - limitations on certain works coming in and out of countries (ex. taking Italian Post-War works out of Italy will be near impossible) - issues of authenticity, fakes, forgeries, weak provenance

- should consider higher security measures as they continue to aggregate data - their database has provided an good solution to provenance records for many works - globalized audience should help survive market stunting of specific governments

- energy for print publciation - endangered flora and fawn used in in some art objects that are banned - energy wasted in art logistics

- more sustainable compared to print magazines and newspapers - laws keep it from selling endangered species

Table 3: PESTLE - External Environemt Analysis


Operations In terms of operations we discuss the firm from a resource-based view and a knowledge-based view. In terms of resources, Artsy benefits from strong physical capital. As they are a art tech company, their leading asset is their technology featuring a growing continuously database, their Art Genome Project, online art fair previews, and the various ways it helps audiences stay connected to the art world via education or event updates. Positioning itself in New York, Artsy sits in one of the leading art market centres in the world, but its online nature allows it to break beyond the US borders to reach an global audience, moving to whatever is happening in the international art world. Their access is also remarkable; having established themselves as credible, forward-thinking thought leaders in the market that are enabling its growth rather than disrupting it, Artsy has gained access into the inner workings of both private and public institutions, with partnership levels increasing. In terms of human capital, Artsy’s internal team goes through a rigorous hiring process to ensure fit of potential candidates match the firm’s core values (Cleveland, 2016). Artsy also benefits greatly from the capital and expertise of the advisors and investors they’ve had through multiple rounds of funding. These include Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Eric Schmidt (Google), Larry Gagosian, John Elderfield (MoMA), Marc Glimcer (Pace Gallery), Wendi Deng, Tina Brown (former New Yorker editor), Dasha Zukova (angel investor) (Samdanis, 2017). Over the years they’ve received a total of $50.88M in six rounds of funding from 34 investors (see figure 4) (Crunchbase, 2017). They’ve also recently acquired ArtAdvisor, another New York based art tech startup for an undisclosed amount (Crunchbase, 2017).


DZUBAS / On Ochre (detail), 1971, Oil on canvas, 144 x 102 cm

Date Jan. 2010 Jun. 2010 Nov. 2010 Nov. 2011 Apr. 2014 Mar. 2015

Round Seed Convertible Note Convertible Note Series A Series B Series C

Amount $50K $100K $1.25M $6M $18.48M $25M

Lead Investor Thrive Capital Peter Thiel Thrive Capital LCatterton

Source: Crunchbase Table 4: Artsy Funding Rounds

An assessment of Artsy’s competitive advantage based on value, rarity, inimitability, and maximizing their resources reveal an interesting perspective. Aside from the Art Genome Project, Artsy’s platform is not unique in terms of its database, event calendar, and articles. Though it possesses a lot of value and the firm most definitely maximizes their resources, it is extremely inimitable as a product. However, their connections to the art world, extensive database, and human capital put Artsy on a platform that is unrivalled by its competitors who are pursuing the same verticals. In terms of knowledge, despite being on the bigger scale of art businesses, Artsy runs incredibly lean for a tech startup that’s currently outputting so much content. As the founder and employees of Artsy have mentioned before, collaboration and efficiency are pivotal to the company’s success testifying the company’s ability to create, retain, and transfer knowledge within the organization quickly and implement it despite their environment’s rapid growth (Samdanis, 2017)


1. 2 Capabilities and Competences Carter Cleveland came up with the idea of Artsy when trying to find a poster to hang in his Princeton dorm room (Dazed, 2013). Surprised that there was no place online that had a comprehensive database of art images, Cleveland was inspired to create his own (Dazed, 2013). Since its conception, Artsy has amassed more than “500,000 images of art, architecture, and design by 50,000 artists span[ning] historical, modern, and contemporary works and includes the largest online database of contemporary art” (Artsy, 2017). Under Cleveland’s leadership, Artsy has been able to scale rapidly and become a recognized brand in the art world. Cleveland’s ability to pitch his business model has also secured Artsy over $50 million in several rounds of funding, backed by a wall of advisors and investors whose experiences are invaluable to the company’s continued success.

SUGAÏ / Soyokazé, 1957, Oil on canvas, 92.1 x 73.7 cm

Artsy’s multiple verticals allow it to generate revenue through online sales while continuing to provide tons of content on its free website promoting education and accessibility in sometimes a very opaque and academic art world. Despite being one of the biggest names in the online art market, Artsy has still managed to secure partnership deals with galleries, museums, foundations, estates, art fairs, and auction houses around the world showing that it can play in the ecosystem without derailing its processes of validation. They have also continually added features to their service that go above and beyond including in-house art advisory specialists, a development divisions that continually innovating their platform, and creative marketing campaigns that change the way you think of traditionally selling or teaching art history.


1. 3 Marketing and Cultural Strategy Target Market Artsy’s target market is ultimately anyone who enjoys art, from a most basic level to an art market professional. With its database and website, they have truly built a platform accessible for anyone with any interest in art through their user-friendly journey as well as its online availability which is free for use. Artsy targets a large audience with its artworks priced from $150 to $3 million though online sales on the top end of the market are still quite a ways to go in terms of gaining competitive market share from private or auction sales. This creates a pocket then of works that are at the lower to mid range of the market which are attracting new buyers and and collections generally comprised of the middle market.



- online database - selling art and design items online - Art Genome - art events calendar - publication/news - education

- galleries pay subscription fee to access platform - make commissions off auction sales



- online - Instagram live stories for events they attend - content marketing; writing useful/valuable/ interest articles

- online - their website & socail media - the in-person interactions with Artsy reporters in different places

Figure 2: Artsy’s Marketing Mix


Cultural Strategy Artsy’s company culture benefits from being rooted strongly in two industries both art and technology. It’s products and brand have changed the way the art tech landscape looks and how images and information about art are disseminated. Their website’s many offerings have streamlined many channels of accessing art market information like looking for new artists, reading exhibition reviews, bidding on the latest auction, and browsing an upcoming art fair. They’ve also worked non-stop to develop their “characteristic” trait-tracking Art Genome Project. Artsy’s investor track record has attracted the attention of those outside of the art industry, reinforcing the potential for growth and cultivating investor interest in the art startup community can can sometimes be overlooked do to its niche market. Artsy has done incredible things internally by implementing startup processes like open source code and running lean.



- strong advertising, iconic branding, clean design - powerful network of connections - largest contemporary art database - good investor track record - good leadership, advisors, & investors - multiple verticals at once for revenue - constantly producing strong content to hold its position as thought leader - still has potential to grow - innovative tech

- perhaps not enough staff - most of their products aren’t unqiue enough to sustain competitive advantage - just spent a lot with an acqusition; not sure how this affects rent budget



- creating more functions and new applications with existing data/technology - recent ArtAdvisor acquisition

- not a new product - new entrants - potential to run out of funding - data security

Figure 3: Artsy’s SWOT Analysis


NEED FOR NEW BUISNESS DEVELOPMENT 11 2011, Oil and airbrush on canvas, 182.9 x 142.2 cm WILLIAMS / Code Nude,



2. 1 New Business Development New Opportunity Every year art world professionals migrate to Art Basel to see the very best of what the contemporary art world has to offer. However with an influx of guests, the prices for accommodations rise and hotels are quickly booked up. In order to raise publicity for alternative accommodations, Artsy can partner with Airbnb over the course of those exclusive 3-4 days.

coming to Art Basel already looking to purchase works, or it could be a way to introduce new buyers to the art world by having them surrounded by a collection of works that would all be for sale and could be extremely affordable for a first-time purchase. If the second target market is chosen, it is perfectly in line with Artsy’s vision to provide accessible information and educate buyers about collecting art. Depending on which guests get selected, a new demographic of buyer could be introduced, perhaps young couples or new mothers. While this isn’t a new market per se, it is another opportunity to develop their first-time buyer audience

Airbnb would source the flats, a local interior design could transform the space, and Artsy could curate the accommodations with artworks and design objects offered on their website. Earlier this year in February, Artsy had an extremely successful collaboration with New York designer Kelly Behun in the penthouse of architect, Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue tower in New York City (Dezeen, 2017). The collaboration sparked tons of publicity for all parties, as the showroom enticed possible buyers for the $40 million USD penthouse (Dezeen, 2017).

In return for Airbnb leasing the space, Artsy could bring guests to a select few Art Basel events as part of Airbnb’s new ‘local experience’ initiative. Artsy would already be invited to those events and bringing these guests would just generate publicity for all the events they choose to attend. This exchange perfectly aligns with the mission of both companies of being accessible and providing a unique experience..

This is an extremely lucrative opportunity as it could either target guests that would be


Source: Dezeen; 432 Park Avenue Penthouse Artsy Collaboration

The partnership could host five rooms of single or paired off guests for the launch of this campaign in Art Basel. If the campaign is successful it can be replicated at other art fairs and events throughout the year. Influencer marketing has also been the biggest trend this year (Splash Effect, 2017) so it would be a good experiment to offer two of the rooms to online content creators and have the other three rooms available for a raffle. By having in the digital content creator participate in the campaign, costs can be saved for promoting via traditional channels like print advertisements and can be used to sponsor their trip while still reaching a larger audience. In return the influencer can create content for the experience saving Artsy and Airbnb photography and video production costs.

This collaboration would be a natural fit for Airbnb as they have previously worked with art institutions before. For example, their METbnb partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art which allowed “visitors to rent out several of the institution’s historical rooms for a night at a time” after facing a shortfall of $10 million this year (Hyperallergic, 2017). This is also following their successful partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago last year where the company created a 3D replica of artist Vincent van Gogh’s room for guests to stay in. Directly following this Airbnb release, “The Art Institute of Chicago trended on Facebook and experienced a 250% spike in online ticket sales” as well as having “the project receiv[e] a Gold Award at the Cannes Design Lions in June (Target Internet, 2016).



- will be determined after further discussion with Airbnb - could either be free and considered as a promotional expense - or guests could be charged at a fair rate (~$200 USD/night)


- Airbnb special flats fully decorated by a local interior designer, furnished with Artsy curated aratworks and design items - Artsy would bring guests through Airbnb’s experience program to exclusive Art Basel events



- Art Basel

- June 14-18, 2017 (opening night June 14, fair runs 15-18 for public) Basel, Switzerland


- promote on both company’s social accounts - offering 2 rooms of the 5 to digital influencers to generate publicity by also publishing creative content on their channels eliminating need for photography and video production crew

Figure 4: Campaign Marketing Mix


OWENS / Untitled, 1997, Acrylic on canvas, 213.4 x 233.7 cm

2. 2 No New Capabilities Needed No new skills from either party would be needed as the capabilities to run the campaign from both sides already exists. If anything, a new team could be created comprising marketing professionals and project managers from both Airbnb and Artsy to complete the campaign.



VICENTE / Overhead, 1994, Oil on canvas, 157.5 x 121.9 cm


3 | NEW

3. 1 Value Proposition The core product would be their accommodations for the fair as well any artworks or design items sold to the guests or any other buyers over the course of the campaign. The expected product would be to provide the guests with an exclusive art world experience and give them the opportunity to learn more about collecting art, art fairs, and the ecosystem. The augmentation of their experience would be to develop greater insights into the art world, begin to contemplate the collecting process, and consider whether art would be an alternative investment they might now consider after living with it in situ. This experience could also give guests the opportunity to meet art world professionals and develop their network. Finally the potential products could be new applications of Artsy’s current database, new opportunities with their recent ArtAdvisor acquisition, more one-off experiences in the future, and a continuation of this campaign across other art fairs in different locations over the next year.

Source: Dezeen

3. 2 Key Success Indicators There are several key success indicators for the new business development. The first would be publicity coverage if the campaign is successfully executed for both parties. The second would be if any of the art or design pieces were purchased over the course of the campaign by either the guests or others. The third would be the number of first time buyers that use the site after seeing the campaign. The fourth would require social analytics to track if website traffic, clickthrough rates, and conversions had gone up since the campaign. Over a longer period of time it could be useful to track if there were repeat sales made to the new crop of first time buyers converted from this campaign.


3. 3 Main Risks Associated

COOK / Untitled (detail), 2013, Hand woven cotton canvas on canvas, 152.4 x 121.9 cm

As the new business development plan falls in line with the current capabilities of both Artsy and Airbnb, there should be no major risks. The largest risk would be if something had suddenly happened to hurt Airbnb’s brand before, during, or after the partnership. In the event of a failed attempt, the risks both companies would incur would be the time and labor costs of running this campaign. Insurance of both the art, design elements, and furniture might be an issue, however guests should only be staying in the flat between the 3-5 days of the art fair risk management seems low.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Artsy. (2017). Brand and Experiential Marketing Intern. Available at: artsy-jobs-brand-experiential-marketing-intern, , (Accessed 1 May 2017). Artsy. (2017). The Art World Online. Available at:, (Accessed 4 May 2017). Clegg, S.R., Kornberger, M. & Pitsis, T. (2016). Managing and Organizations: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, London: Sage, Chapter 16. Cleveland, C. (2015). Why Define Company Values? Available at:, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Cleveland, C. (2016). When to Define Company Values. Available at: carter-cleveland-when-to-define-company-values, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Crunchbase. (2017). Artsy. Available at:, (Accessed 3 May 2017). Ferber, R. (2015). Open-Sourcing Company Culture at Artsy. Available at:, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Fortune. (2015). A bold, new direction for the fine art industry: online sales, Available at:, (Accessed May 3 2017). Hyperallergic. (2017) In Effort to Cover Deficit, Metropolitan Museum Partners with Airbnb to Rent Period Rooms. Available at:, (Accessed May 2 2017). Koschei, J. (2016). Art, Design, and Collaboration at Artsy. Available at: in-progress/art-design-and-collaboration-at-artsy-7cda570fd4b7, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Samdanis, M. (2017) Management for New Media Entrepreneurs [PowerPoint presentation]. MAAB04: Strategic Management for the Art World. Available at: https://online.sothebysinstitute. com/courses/1023/files/75033?module_item_id=39348, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Samdanis, M. (2017) The Process & Practice of Organizing Strategies and Structures [PowerPoint presentation]. MAAB04: Strategic Management for the Art World. Available at:, (Accessed 1 May 2017). Porter, S. (2017). Splash Saloon Recap: Leveraging Influencers for Growth Impact. Available at:, (Accessed 3 May 2017). Target Internet. (2017) Digital Marketing Case Study: Airbnb’s Van Gogh bnb collaboration. Available at:, (Accessed 3 May 2017).

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Artsy - Business Development Proposal  

Artsy - Business Development Proposal