eBay Competitor Auctionata Raises $20 Million
Real-time auction site Auctionata has raised $20 million (€15.5M) to expand globally, recruit new talent and develop new technology.
The new round is being led by Earlybird Venture Capital, an investment firm that specializes in tech European startups with global ambitions. It has backed more than 80 companies and manages more than $700 million in assets.
Earlybird joins Bright Capital, Kite Ventures, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, eVenture Capital Partners and the Raffay Group as Auctionata investors.
Unlike eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), Auctionata wants to bring "all the thrill of the auction room to life for everyone online, for the first time." The site uses a "patented real-time auction system" and employs a "team of international experts, state-licensed auctioneers and highly experienced professionals."
On June 21, 2013, Auctionata will sell an original watercolor by Egon Schiele, a famous Austrian painter who gained notoriety in the early 20th century. Galerie St. Etienne, the oldest gallery in the United States that specializes in expressionism and self-taught art, exhibited several of Schiele's paintings last November.
Schiele's work has garnered quite a bit of attention on Pinterest. One fan page (which features a collection of Schiele's paintings) has acquired nearly 25,000 followers.
"Unlike traditional auction houses, where the excitement naturally falls off after each auction, the combination of online auctions and online shop generates a high experience factor for potential buyers and sellers alike," Alexander Zacke, CEO of Auctionata, said in a company release. "We are very pleased that our team of investors now includes another highly experienced global player like Earlybird bringing expertise in ecommerce and technology platforms."
Auctionata is the first German online fine art and auction house to sell an original piece by Schiele. The site will sell "Reclining Woman," one of his most famous creations, for a starting price of $1.5 million (€1M).
"We look for companies with the potential to be global market leaders," added Dr. Christian Nagel, co-founder and partner of Earlybird, who was also quoted in a press release. "Auctionata sells objects that attract interest worldwide – up to and including the level of Egon Schiele. No other online vendor serves this market segment. Auctionata's business model was developed by two founding figures with decades of experience in both the art market and online business."
"Reclining Woman" could go down in history as one of the most expensive items ever sold on an auction site.
Last May, CBS MoneyWatch listed the most expensive items ever sold on eBay. They included a small town in California (sold for $1.77 million), a U.S. missile base ($2.1 million) and a yacht ($140 million).
eBay users could also acquire a meet-and-greet lunch with Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) CEO Warren Buffett for $2.6 million.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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