The story of how Lurie and Houlgrave set up their business is also fascinating. Houlgrave started her career at Credit Suisse, but was interested in collecting antique maps. After leaving her role in banking she studied Art Business and became interested in blockchain applications for art. Prior to setting up Codex, Lurie founded another startup called Lofty which was an online marketplace for art & collectibles. While working there, he realized that the industry was ripe for disruption and that the blockchain could help resolve some of the problems. They met and decided to set up Codex together.
Codex Protocol is a project that aims to register art and collectibles (A&C) on the blockchain. I had a chance to speak to co-founders Mark Lurie and Jess Houlgrave at the Token 2049 conference in Hong Kong. As an art collector myself, I wanted to find out how they came to their idea and how they proposed solving some of the problems with the A&C market.
According to Lurie, there are many problems in the current A&C market. “It is very hard to do business in the art & collectibles industry. Each item that enters the market needs research and due diligence to confirm authenticity. Commissions are high, and things move slowly. By moving on to the blockchain more people would participate in the market and fees would go down.”
Their new venture, Codex looks to resolve these issues. The vision of Lurie and Houlgrave is to bring together art and collectibles from wine to antique maps and paintings under one roof. A single title registry will make life easier for auction houses and save money researching items and improve connectivity across different collectible classes. “Codex is the first platform to implement a title registry in an industry that really needs it.” Lurie said.
When pressed about how the fusty antique industry would adopt cryptocurrency payments, Lurie asserted that most people operating in the industry wouldn’t even see the crypto aspect. “The Codex Protocol can interface directly with applications. Most people who use our service won’t need to understand how to use a crypto wallet.” For the regular buying and selling of A&C there will be no changes from what is done now. Crypto payments are only used for interacting with the title registry.
As a final question, I asked Mark what he felt should be emphasized about the Codex Protocol to those exploring whether to invest in the ICO. One aspect is the business partnerships Codex has with several online auction websites. “We have traction outside the tech world with our business partnerships.” A second point was that putting A&C on a title registry would open it up to more investment. “If art and collectibles are properly registered, investors are more likely to consider them as a new asset class for investment diversification.”
Codex Protocol is currently raising money in a pre-sale and plans to hold a public crowdsale in the next few months.