1stdibs began pushing the antiques business into the 21st century long ago. Apparently, investors think it can push further and faster with $76 million in new funding. That’s how much the now-18-year-old, New York-based company says it just closed on for its Series D round, led by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from earlier backers Index Ventures, Benchmark and Spark Capital.
The company now boasts a valuation of well over $500 million, it tells the WSJ. Other investors in the new round include Sofina Group, Foxhaven Asset Management, and Allen & Company, as well as Michael Zeisser, who is the former chairman of U.S. Investments for Alibaba Group, and Groupe ArtÃ©mis, which owns the auction house Christie's.
1stdibs has always been an interesting startup, one that’s both loved by the antiques dealers who use it, and, apparently, feared. When, in 2016, 1stdibs became heavier-handed about enforcing the commissions from each sale on its platform — and on which it relies for revenue — more than 30 dealers reportedly met at a design store in lower Manhattan to grouse about the development, complaining that the company had begun prizing revenue growth over its relationships.
Of course, with venture-capital funding — and the company has now collected $170 million altogether — comes expectations. And despite pushback from dealers, they’ve apparently stuck with the platform. 1stdibs says an average of 50 items sell for more than $5,000 on its platform daily, and that 15 of these are items that sell for more than $10,000. (A quick scan suggests a very wide range of prices, with many vintage items priced at $5,000 or less, but plenty with far richer tags, like a three-carat ruby and diamond ring available right now on the site for a cool $200,000, and a chandelier dating back to roughly 1870 and selling, someone is hoping, for more than $300,000.)
With venture funding comes competition, too. Though 1stdibs may be the doyen of the online antiques market, other, newer companies eyeing its traction have since emerged on the scene, many of which have also since raised venture funding and are also growing fast, including The RealReal, which was founded in 2011 and is reportedly weighing a public offering; and Chairish, founded in 2013, which sells vintage and used decor.
Chairish has raised just $16.7 million from investors to date. The RealReal has raised $288 million.
In fact, a fight for brand recognition in what’s become an increasingly crowded playing field as the U.S. population ages (and more antiques are dispersed into the world) may ultimately lead 1stdibs to follow a growing number of formerly online-only marketplaces now extending their reach into the offline world.
Though the company already has a New York location, in a block-long, late-19th-century warehouse called the Terminal Stores building, CEO David Rosenblatt tells the WSJ that using its new funding, more brick-and-mortar showrooms may be in its future.