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Why NFX Invested in Arkive: The World’s First Decentralized Physical Museum

Morgan Beller · @beller · Jul 2022

Why NFX Invested in Arkive

The modern museum model was created in the 1700s and has barely changed since. With the majority of museums being owned by governments, wealthy institutions, banks, and private individuals, and controlled by an exclusive group of curators – they are extremely centralized and top-down. So much so, that if we use the generally accepted timeline of digital innovation compounding from web1 to web2 to web3, then museums today might be considered web-negative-5.

Today, Arkive is launching the world’s first decentralized physical museum. Operating as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), they’re enabling anyone to own a piece of the museum and vote on which items to acquire, display, and sell. 

With more than $9.7M in seed funding from NFX, TCG Crypto, Coinbase Ventures, and others, here’s why we believe they’ll revolutionize the way we curate, own, and preserve culture.

1. Museums are outdated and web3 can provide valuable upgrades with decentralization, collaboration, and transparency 

Throughout history, museum collections have always been run and owned by the most elite in society. With collections worth billions of dollars, and curator jobs typically only available to those with ivy league art degrees, it’s an inherently closed-off and insular world. 

And as much as museums hate to admit it, art and historical items are an asset class, the same as stocks, crypto, and real estate. Except in this case, it’s an asset class currently reserved for the ultra elite who buy and sell pieces for hundreds of millions of dollars, oftentimes just to be hidden away in vaults.

Museums Today

Arkive is looking to change that. With its bottom-up model, anyone can apply to be a member and be a part of deciding what pieces are culturally significant and what should be on display. 

Another drawback to museums is they are inherently one-directional experiences where visitors go to the museum, walk around to view the art, and leave. 

Arkive is also bringing the experience into the social era with plans for interactive dialogues on each of the pieces, podcasts to discuss their significance, leaderboards of people’s favorite items, and more.

2. 5x Founder + experienced team

I have known Tom McLeod since July 2015: when he came to Andreessen Horowitz to pitch his company Omni (a storage and rentals platform, which exited to Coinbase in 2019). I loved the pitch, but I really loved Tom. I remember we got together at Noir Lounge in Hayes Valley to discuss Omni. It was then, over some virgin Moscow Mules, that I learned that Tom has a unique, off-the-charts balance of IQ and EQ – a hallmark of exceptional Founders and leaders.

Tom / Morgan

We didn’t end up working together on Omni but we stayed friends. 

Fast forward to ETH Denver 2021. Tom and I got together the first night we were in town and he told me about Arkive. It all just instantly made sense. Yes, the idea itself makes a tremendous amount of sense (close your eyes and picture the future of museums and tell me this isn’t what it looks like). But Tom doing this made even more sense. Arkive is the combination of all of his life’s work and interests – storage, rentals, art, culture, community. Almost like he’s been preparing for Arkive his whole life.

When a founder is clearly working on their life’s work, and their life’s work happens to be a great idea (and bonus: the founder is a great person)… then a decision is made. And that’s why we invested in Arkive.

Tom has also built an all-star team that spans alumni from sharing economy and storage startups, to art world alums from Gagosian Galleries and the Whitney ISP, along with folks who have curated exhibitions and programs at places including MoMA, The Kitchen, The Brooklyn Museum, and David Zwirner.

3. They’ve already started building it 

Through Arkive, select objects of significance are hand chosen by community members who vote on which item they’d like Arkive to collect and showcase. Arkive has also already started building its decentralized collection. Its early community has voted on and acquired the patent for the ENIAC computer, the world’s first programmable, electronic, general-purpose computer.

The DAO is also currently taking applications for its first 1,000 alpha members, who will have curatorial power, access to physical and digital experiences, as well as early access to Arkive’s future NFT-based membership.

To apply to be an Alpha member, visit Arkive.net


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