Calum Johnson: Welcome, welcome. Welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Alts show. I'm your host, Calum Johnson, and today is a very exciting day. Alts are officially live on Public - over 25 alternative assets that you can choose from and trade in the platform currently. I encourage everyone on the call to check it out. But to help us talk about some of these assets and what this all means, we're joined by Dylan Dittrich and Adam Katz, who heads up research at alternative investment analysis platform Altan Insights, and we also have Leah Smith, who leads acquisitions here on the Public alts team.
We're excited to chat about the offerings that just opened up for trading on Public.com today. Okay, so let's get straight into it. First off, I want to zoom out a bit and start with a general overview.
So, Leah, I'm going to send it to you first. Can you quickly just walk us through what we mean when we refer to alts on Public, and why someone would want to consider investing in them? What are some of the risks or so to be aware of?
Leah Smith: When we say alternative assets at Public, we mean investments outside of traditional asset classes, like stocks, and cash in our terms, we also mean outside of crypto. The largest categories within alternative investments are typically real estate and private equity. Otis previously focused mostly on cultural assets. So the offerings that you're seeing today on Public are primarily in those kinds of collectible art, sports memorabilia categories. We have every intention of expanding soon, though, in a lot of exciting ways, which I'm sure we will cover at a later date on a different Alts live.
So often people invest in these alternatives because, you know, it's a way of diversifying and also sometimes, you know, peeking into your personal interest. So, ultra-high-net-worth individuals allocate about 5% to collectibles and then larger allotments for real estate and private equity. Many of these categories also perform well against the S&P. The biggest hurdle, you know, in the past was really access. And that's part of why we're so excited to be part of Public now. And again, you know, diversification is the name of the game. That's why a lot of people focus on alts, in general. So, because there are, you know, many categories that perform well against the S&P, there are also risks.
In many of these categories, there's less liquidity, there's volatility, and some of the asset categories within the overarching alternative space are even kind of more especially volatile, volatile, like NFTs for example. And then, as with everything, you know, we encourage everyone to do their own research and make sure that the kind of risk-reward profile of your portfolio fits with what you're looking to achieve.
Calum Johnson: Thanks for the context, Leah. I want to open this up and get Adam and Dylan involved here. Obviously, you guys cover this space very, very closely. Could you just give our audience a brief overview of what's been happening broadly in the collectible space? And then, what are some of the big trends and developments that we're seeing at the moment?
Dylan, I know you're kind of a regular on the show at this point. Let's start with you, and then We can go to Adam.
Dylan Dittrich: Great, thanks, Calum, thanks for having me back on. So really, in the collectibles and cultural asset worlds, we're coming off of, you know, two years in 2020 and 2021, that we're overall incredibly kind years to collectibles. And that was fueled by a variety of factors, you know, yes, time inside and enduring lockdowns, kind of laid a foundation for nostalgic pursuits and people being reintroduced to collecting habits that had gone dormant. But, you know, as we're learning, perhaps more important than the time inside was really the injection of both fiscal and monetary stimulus into the mainstream investing public, with the government kind of stepping in to backstop the economy, to support the economy. Market participants were very quickly given the confidence to continue to invest and maybe even a rational level of confidence to start speculating financially.
And you fast forward to today, and we're in this very different situation where inflation is roaring, and kind of the very firm messaging from the government has been, you know, they're not necessarily stepping in to prevent economic weakness this time around. And so as a result of that, signaling, traditional financial markets, so your stocks and bonds have both kind of been pummeled over the last few months. And that is kind of spreading into many collectible markets, many cultural asset markets, you know, when people start to feel uncertain or uneasy about the economy, they're less inclined to take risks with money. But what's interesting about that, though, is while all that's going on, you know, the whale collectors and investors, the ultra-high net worth individuals, they're impacted a little bit less by this kind of short-term macroeconomic force. So well, collectible markets kind of broadly have been falling, you have still been seeing these huge headlines of multimillion-dollar record sales across asset classes, you know, whether it's sports cards, memorabilia, comic books, there are still huge prices - prices that have never been seen before being paid for the best of the best assets. And that's what makes the idea of democratization of those assets an attractive one.
Calum Johnson: Cool. Adam, do you want to come in here as well?
Adam Katz: Yeah, and thanks for having me back. Dylan just gave a really terrific overview of the kind of macro environment over the last couple of years. And just mentioned that at the top of the market, there have been some enormous record-setting sales. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle sold for over $12 million, setting a record recently. And what you're seeing beyond just the fact that the top-of-the-top sort of the Grails in collectibles, beyond those performing really well, I would say that the more established categories within collectibles have been outperforming the newer ones.
For people who want to stay in collectibles, that might mean shifting from more speculative modern-day sports cards to vintage sports cards or higher-graded sports cards. And we've seen beyond sports cars memorabilia, things like blue-chip art and wine, which have been in the market for a lot longer than things like video games or NFTs. Those are performed a lot better. And some of them have even gone up even as we've seen the stock market go down. Collectibles are not just one category that acts in concert with each other. There are so many subcategories that have had such different histories that you kind of have to approach them individually. So when you're looking at art or wine, it's going to be different than, as I said, video games or NFTs.
Calum Johnson: No, and I think that sets it up really well for our audience. I think a lot of the community on Public is obviously more familiar with stocks. And that's why to both Dylan and Adam - I'm kind of curious to get deeper into the valuing and the pricing of some of these categories.
Can you kind of just speak about some of the dynamics, some of the influences that kind of gauge how these categories interact and the valuing and the pricing that we see there? Dylan, we can start with you/
Dylan Dittrich: Sure. So as you kind of alluded to, you know, with stocks or bonds, they generally have, you know, underlying cash flows or business prospects that make it easier and kind of more tangible to arrive at a valuation. And there's a greater level of assurance and confidence around, you know, kind of the risk involved in the valuation bands into which something could trade – and with collectibles and cultural assets, that's not really the case, right? And so what you're really relying on, to kind of inform value, is the interplay between supply and demand, and how those two forces are shaped and how they can change over time. And, you know, it sounds simple enough kind of at face value, but it's actually pretty, pretty complex. You know, a lot of the very most valuable collectible assets have very low supply, and importantly, that supply isn't likely to grow. But what's so important is recognizing that low supply alone is not enough to make something valuable, right? You need that other component, the demand. When you have kind of this very low, basically, a movable supply, matched with strong demand and the right demand, deep-pocketed demand, that's when you have a recipe for high values. You know, is this the kind of asset that would draw museum-quality collectors? Is it the kind of asset that wouldn't be out of place, you know, headlining an auction successfully at a Sotheby's or Christie's?
And when you think about those two forces, supply and demand, you want to think about, like, what's the time horizon over which you're thinking about those because, you know, if you're short term, and you're looking to make a short term play on an asset, you're looking for, you know, a very sharp uptick in demand and a very short amount of time. Or maybe you're looking to kind of expose an inefficiency in the market where, you know, something is trading at a price that's nowhere near where it would sell at auction or in a private sale. So you're looking for very short-term movement in one of those two forces. When you're long-term, you're thinking about it differently. You're thinking, you know, how does demand change over the course of years or decades? You know, and you start thinking about demographic shifts. You know, who's coming into money or entering their peak earning years? And what do they care about? What are they going to be spending money on? What are they going to be collecting? What kind of inspires nostalgia for them? And is it the same or different from a previous generation? And if it's different, is the market pricing that in yet, and so there's kind of it at face value, very simple kind of framework through which to view these assets, but there's a lot of complex complexity that comes with it.
Calum Johnson: Adam, you want to come in here as well?
Adam Katz: Yeah, so I'll just expand on what Dylan just mentioned about nostalgia. I mean, that's a huge driving force in a lot of these asset classes, you know, we're not talking about a rational market with cash flows or, you know, revenue numbers that you can value these assets on, people have very strong connections and emotions to pop culture or sports figures. And it's not just about whether it's a good investment; it's whether they want to own this item. And especially when you're seeing fractionalization of these items and the ability for everyday investors to get pieces of these really special and rare items.
For a lot of people, it's not just about the investment, it's about being able to say that you own a piece of this thing or that you own this whole thing. And just in the first couple hours, that these assets have been live on Public, I've been kind of following the buying and selling and I've just noticed that things like the Pokemon card, the Charizard card and the Harry Potter book, which are square in that demographic of people who are on Public, those things are eliciting strong emotions. And those things have seen a lot of activity so far compared to some of the other assets. So it is about figuring out both what is rare and what has high quality, but it's also trying to understand what the rest of the market is going to desire.
And then I also just wanted to briefly talk about liquidity. I'm sure you know, Public users who are used to the equities market are used to being able to buy and sell immediately at the market price. You know, there's going to be a lot of buyers and sellers for these things. In collectibles. and in alts. that's not necessarily going to be the case. It's not gonna be the same kind of liquidity you see on the equities markets, and sometimes they're going to be fairly large bid-ask spreads. So it's not just saying, oh, I want to buy this Harry Potter book; it's deciding what you think. It's worth maybe putting a bid in and then having some patience until that gets filled. And similarly, on the sell side, it's the same thing, you might not be able to sell it immediately.
Calum Johnson: think that's a really good overview and kind of an insight into the nuances between stocks, and then collectibles and these alternative assets. And I kind of want to go deeper into one of the things you mentioned, which is a great point that when you're evaluating a stock, it's usually based on a business. So you can look at the earnings report, you can look at the revenue numbers, the profit, and different quantifiable metrics. A lot of these alternative asset categories are based around nostalgia and people's emotional attachment, which is just difficult, more difficult to quantify.
I'm curious, when you guys are writing up a report or researching an asset or doing some of this analysis, what is your process? What kind of metrics and things are you looking at? And are there any specific frameworks that you use to come up with like a determination on the value of an asset? Dylan, we can kick over to you again.
Dylan Dittrich: Sure, I think, you know, you want to approach an asset through both a short-term and a long-term lens. So, you know, when you're looking at the valuation of an asset today, you want to be wary of things like comparable sales for that asset. Has the same asset or very similar assets, have those been sold at auction recently? And what does the trajectory look like for those sales? You know, have they been trending up, and there's reason to believe that that could continue, and you're not just catching the top? Are they falling, and there's reason to believe that, you know, the slide could be reversed? Or are you, you know, catching a falling knife? And so, you know, looking at very similar sales is part of that from a short-term perspective. But as you're kind of expanding your time horizon, you really want to be thinking about, you know, what are assets that maybe aren't precisely similar but are in some ways comparable, and how are they trading? What does their valuation look like? You know, is it greater than or less than the asset you're studying? And should that be the case based on a variety of factors, like, you know, how rare the asset is, how culturally relevant it is, and how culturally relevant it might be in the future based on demographic trends, and you know, how audiences are growing and falling.
And so, you know, you really want to kind of both address those kinds of very, very short-term matters to ensure you're getting an evaluation, that's, that's, you know, reasonable in the short term, but also start thinking beyond that, to think, you know, where does this asset go in the next 10 years, and what drives it there, and what brings a bigger audience, for demand to kind of build the, you know, the buyer pool for that type of asset. So, you really want to be able to view it through both of those lenses and be able to kind of extrapolate data across different assets in different asset classes, rely on historical data from other categories to show how different assets of similar stature have risen or fallen over time. That's the way I like to approach it, both from that short-term and that long-term perspective.
Calum Johnson: Okay, very interesting. Adam, I'm gonna kick it over to you.
Adam Katz: Comparable sales are often if you find a deer comp, you know, you're looking at a card and the same card and the same gray, same I've just sold, I mean, that's gonna be fairly easy valuation books most the time, unfortunately, not that easy is still instead, you also have to consider the trajectory, you know, the long the short term trend of that player or that type of asset or that artist versus the most recent trend of that asset class as a whole. And whether or not this thing is a true Grail, meaning, you know, one of the top assets within this class, or whether it's not a more run of the mill, because both short-term and long term. In the long-term outlook, what is going to affect demand? Are there going to be catalysts for a greater cultural significance of this item? You know, is this comic book going to be made into a movie? Is this player for this card? Is this person going to be a championship contender? Or if they're retired? Are they going to make the Hall of Fame? You know, are there discrete events that could potentially push this item into the public eye, which then will increase demand probably more short term than long term? But surely, you will see things like I just mentioned that will boost demand and, therefore, boost prices for things canceled.
Calum Johnson: Okay, great. And I think it's, I think it's an interesting point about how events and these kinds of landmark moments can also influence value and pricing. I know even back a couple of years ago when the last dance documentary came out about Jordan, we kind of saw a rise in value in some of his memorabilia and trading cards. So I think it's definitely an interesting thing for people to keep in mind.
Leah, I want to bring you back in here because I know that you obviously do a ton of research and analysis when you're making acquisitions for Public for the Alts team; how, what is, what is your process? And then, I guess, how does it differ, if at all, from some of the things that Dylan and Adam explained from how they do things?
Leah Smith: So everything that both Dylan Dylan and Adam have mentioned, we definitely look at it, I think it's a lot about, you know, category and subcategory-specific context. So if we're looking at cards, we take into account, obviously, you know, comparable sales and grading and pop reports. And then there are the added layers of some of the more qualitative stuff like, you know, or not even necessarily qualitative, but who's the player? What's their legacy? Or if it's a newer player, what are their projections?
It's everything that Dylan and Adam have mentioned, with the additional kind of layer of not just kind of broad demand. So in that way, it's different than, you know, finding a singular buyer at an auction in that kind of analysis that goes into something like that. And more, you know, is this going to resonate with, with a larger group of people who, who is this going to be most relevant for? So I think, you know, I think it was Dylan's point who said that there were a couple of the assets that have migrated over today that have seen, you know, some significant activity. And because, I would agree, you know, that it's squarely in that sort of demographic. So I would say that we.. the added layer of considering who we would be making this acquisition for which audience is a really important one that we, you know, bake into our analysis after we do all of the normal kind of investment analysis.
Calum Johnson: No, that's really, that's really helpful. context. And, you know, I think because, obviously, alts have launched today, one thing I definitely wanted to get all of your take on was, and we can go around the room with this, what is kind of your favorite asset that you're looking at right now, and you're excited about? Obviously putting it out there that this is not investment advice for anyone that's in the audience. But yeah, I would love to hear some of the assets you guys are excited about that have launched today. Dylan, we can start with you.
Dylan Dittrich: Nice. Yeah. So I'm a sneaker guy at heart. So I've always been intrigued by the Shattered Backboard Air Jordan 1 on the platform. So a little quick, quick backstory - this is the sneaker Michael Jordan wore, Air Jordan 1, when he was playing an exhibition game over in Italy. He went up to dunk and shattered the backboard, effectively ending the game. And these are the sneakers from that exact moment. I think there's even glass in the soul of the sneaker. At one point, this was the single most expensive pair of sneakers ever sold at auction when it sold n August 2020 for $615,000.
Interestingly enough, some of the Public investors have beaten me to the punch on this one. This was one of the assets that popped higher today. I think the market cap is somewhere in the neighborhood of where it sold at auction two years ago. But it's interesting, I mean, right now, you have huge headline sales in blue chip game Warren memorabilia. Michael Jordan's jersey from game one of the 1998 finals just sold two weeks ago for $10.1 million. So you know, you can see there is increased demand for a worn pair of Jordan 1s that have really strong provenance that's photo matched. And, you know, that alone would make this asset cool. But the fact is, it also inspired that moment, inspired one of the most kind of iconic Jordan colorways, the Shattered Backboard colorway, which is white, orange, and black and nods to the uniform that Jordan was wearing that day. So it's a colorway Nike is still using all the time and nodding to across different models. So just a really cool asset. And I think not investment advice, but definitely, a cool one to see democratized in this way.
Calum Johnson: Very cool. And I love that one as well. Adam, do you want to step in here?
Adam Katz: Sure. I have shares in a few of these assets as well, so I won't mention any of those. But I'm excited about them. One thing that kept an eye on for a long time, Mr. Wiley, is one of my favorite artists in speaking of, you know, emotional connection, personal connection, nostalgia, I would love to own a fork in him no Wiley painting at some point in my life. But for now, you know, the ability to have access to get shares of that is pretty incredible. Artwork is something that doesn't get as much attention. But I think it's great that there are those options on Public because it has been an asset class with a long history and a long history of performing really well, and honestly, I'd love to see more work on the platform.
Calum Johnson: Okay, amazing. And Leah, I like that we have one sneaker, we have one pair of art, Leah, I'm going to let you kind of round it out, finish it off.
Leah Smith: Yeah, so again, this is not investment advice. And this is coming from somebody who's been sometimes very, very close, literally, physically, to the assets themselves. So, you know, I would say I am on the complete same page with Adam and Dylan for those two assets. But one of my personal favorites is Harry Potter. It's just such a huge cornerstone story for an entire generation. And that generation is also, you know, having kids, and I think that first book, getting to see it in person, even myself, It was so exciting, and it's just a really important asset. I think it has launched, you know, multiple generations now of readers and a huge media franchise, and I think it's just a, it's a really great example of the book as well. So that's mine always.
Calum Johnson: Leah, just on that, before I get to the final question, can you give a bit more of the context around that asset? I know that there were only about 500 copies of that first edition book. And there's kind of an interesting, just context around why that specific book is so special.
Leah Smith: Sure. So I think a lot of people know, but if you don't, you know, JK Rowling had a hard time finding a publisher initially for Harry Potter and that story. And so there was a publisher out of London called Bloomsbury that took a risk and printed 500 books, about half of which went to libraries and the other half of which went to bookstores. There are a couple of typos, including one on the back cover, I want to say if memory serves. And this is, being that it's already a really, really limited supply of 500 and being that half of those, you know, went to libraries, the chances of any of those books surviving in readable condition are relatively slim.
But as far as context goes, there are just enough that you know, every once in a while, you'll see something come to auction. So in a lot of ways, it's almost like a perfect example asset for us just because there's just enough context to undo or stand, you know, pricing and comps and things like that. But it also is just so culturally, hugely relevant. And there's no more of those first 500 ever coming out again or being printed again. So that's why I think it's such an interesting asset that checks a lot of boxes for us.
Calum Johnson: Really cool. And I think it just goes to serve how there are such interesting stories behind each of these individual assets. Okay, so here's where I want to end with the final question. Today, we've obviously launched with collectibles, NFTs, and fine art. I know that we're planning to bring more kind of asset categories to the platform and give people even more exposure and opportunity to diversify their portfolios.
I want to go around the room here. Are there any kind of asset categories that you have in mind that you would be very excited for Public to potentially bring on the platform? Maybe if it's not asset categories, it's a specific asset? Just kind of interested to get your guys' thoughts on that. And Dylan, I'll kick it back over to you to start.
Dylan Dittrich: Yeah, I think they're, they're kind of two audiences, two fan bases that are somewhat underrepresented in the, in the collectibles world. So I'd definitely be interested to see either some movie memorabilia or music memorabilia introduced to the platform. There have been some really cool pieces that have shown up at auction over the years of, you know, handwritten lyrics to iconic songs that draw, you know, high six-figure, low seven-figure sums. And they're really cool relics that kind of show that artistic process and the evolution of something that goes on to become very celebrated and very famous. And, you know, I think music fan bases, music audiences are very passionate and very engaged. So always game to see those kinds of things more represented fractionally as well.
Calum Johnson: Okay, awesome - those are two really cool ones. Adam, do you also want to come in here as well?
Adam Katz: Yeah, totally agree with Dylan. I think that those would be super cool asset classes to add. For me, I am definitely interested in seeing wine and spirits. People have been investing in wine for a long table, and it has historically been a relatively stable asset class in a lot of ways than some of the others that are represented on the platform already. I also think that it appeals to a different kind of user than some of the assets that are there already. And I think that there are a lot of really awesome high-end whiskies that have been selling recently at auction. And I would love to see some of that on there. And for a more specific asset, if you could get that Aaron Judge 62nd home run, if and when that happens. I mean, that would be pretty awesome.
Calum Johnson: Yeah, that's it. That's a big one. Leah, do you want to finish it off?
Leah Smith: Yeah, we actually do have an offer out on the final judge, home run, but I know that there's a 2 million offer right now on the 62. So we're on the same page, Adam, hopefully, one day we'll get there.
I think, you know, part of me is a little torn because I don't want to give away too much of, you know, some exciting stuff that's to come. But I think there's so much exciting stuff around movie and music, memorabilia, wine and spirits too, of course, but I think within income generating alternatives too, that's where I'd also be really excited to bring some stuff to Public members to be able to invest in and, and kind of, you know, grow and play along with. So I don't want to give away too much, but I do want to say that there's a lot of expansion coming, and it's all really exciting. I'm biased, obviously. But I think there's a lot of fun stuff on the horizon.
Calum Johnson: Yeah, for sure. And I'm definitely inclined to agree. I think the cash-flowing, cash-generating assets are really interesting, like the royalties, the real estate, all of that. But yeah, it's been an amazing show. Thank you. Thank you to all our guests for coming on and giving that breakdown in that context.