April 18, 2023

Episode 243: Colin Johnson, CEO & Co-founder of Freeport

Colin Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder of Freeport, a platform bringing fine art investment on-chain. By tokenizing fine art, the platform expands access to this historic safe-haven asset class for both retail and accredited investors. The team is trying out a new approach to fractional ownership that will feel interconnected with the rest of the web3 world and be more appealing to a younger audience. Their goal is to democratize access to art, which is why prices start around $200 at launch instead of $15,000. Their ownership experience will include a visual display gallery and social sharing elements such as likes and comments, similar to TikTok.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have ColinJohnson, CEO and co-founder of Freeport, a platform bringing fine artinvestment on chain. Colin, I'm so excited to chat with you, not only becauseof your background, your experience, but also thinking about just the, thetransition to a lot of physical objects going on chain and what that reallymeans for.

Accessibility for, for visibility. Destransparency, it, it's so fascinating. I was talking to another founder theother day, bringing other kind of digital physical assets on chain and beingable to have this whole idea and ecosystem of ownership, and ownership accessreally kind of, um, opened up to, to, greater population.

I'm so excited to learn more about. WhatFreeport is doing and, and what you're doing in terms of bringing physicalobjects on chain and, and having this whole ecosystem of, of, fractionalownership or ownership of, of a small piece of an asset and what thatexperience means for the consumers.

But before we get into all that, whatwere you doing before you started the company?

Colin: Sure. And I share yourexcitement about all those things, by the way. but before getting intoFreeport, I actually worked at Apple. So I was owning marketing for Apple Cashon the Apple Pay. For the past two and a half years.

Before that, I was still at Apple, but Imanaged our relationships with a lot of the big issuing banks, so Chase, WellsFargo, tv a lot of the, the big boy players in that space. Before that, I wasat American Express in New York City. So I've been on both coasts from from NewJersey originally. But at Amex I was on the digital partnerships anddevelopment team and helped manage partnerships with like Uber, Airbnb.

Yeah. Other platforms where we tried tohelp Amex look cool. So, a lot of time in the payment space, a lot of time inthe sort of FinTech space. But have always in the background, been very, veryinterested in crypto and kind of the, the revolutionary capabilities that comealong with it.  

Julian: Yeah, it's, it's sofascinating seeing a lot of people coming from a finance background and, andseeing, it seems like they're more of the early adopters to learning at leastabout, the exposure to the technology and, and, and and also the kind of themechanics of how it might work in, in certain situations, even in traditionalsense for institutions that have had legacy products in the integration of thattechnology.

More and more kind of, present, youknow, in terms of how these, the, kind of legacy technologies will transition.But what was that kind of initial curiosity? Where were you first introduced tothe, the technology and, and kind of the mechanics of it and what particularlygot you excited about, what tokenizing was and what crypto was and what Webthree was kind of promoting?

Colin: Yeah, so probably 13years ago or so, I had a friend in college. Tell me about Bitcoin. Back when itwas, I don't know, in the vicinity of $260 per Coin, something like that. I gotreally excited about it. I read the white paper then, and then I read theEthereum White paper. I don't know, like six or seven years after that.

Yeah. And that just blew my mind, right?Like the whole concept of having this continuous ledge. That is trustless,right? That's decentralized. That is publicly auditable, that is immutable.Like there are a bunch of little things that come together mm-hmm. That are allkind of necessary for the collective chain to make sense.

And once those things clicked in my headand like it didn't hurt to make some gains on some of the early tokens, right?Sure. Bitcoin, Ethereum being early, those. That kind of amps you up a littlebit, right? And you say, okay, not only do I believe in the technology, butit's also been like financially positive.

Yeah. Not guaranteeing that it will befor everyone just to be super clear about that. but it really was reading thosewhite papers and then experiencing different decentralized apps on Ethereum,especially you know, like going through DeFi summer all the different, I meaneven the ICO craze back in, I believe 2017.

So dipping my toe in and. Being able tosee and experience what it felt like to have different people all over theplanet own similar things because they believed in similar things. Right? Andto have that chain not be owned by some centralized entity it's just, it's,it's hard not to get inspired by it once you start to think intuitively aboutwhat the implications  

Julian: are.

Yeah. Yeah. And what, what in particulardo you think it was the benefit of being kind of in the, the finance space tosee, to compare the mechanics from traditional finance to what, blockchain canessentially unlock, with pfi and, and DAPs and all those things that allowpeople to move money and have ownership, but also do it very seamlessly.

And without, like you said, thatcentralized kind of authority that, regulates these transac. What was it liketo have that comparison and where do you think, the benefits could actuallycome to, to the, the larger institutions if they adopt more of thistechnology?  

Colin: Yeah. Okay. I take,how many degrees should I zoom out here?

Zooming, if I zoom out furthest. And welook at it from the concept of finance is the series of abstractions that wehave, right? So anything that's not sort of in your physical space currently,if you think about what a dollar is, it's, it's kind of this, this abstractidea. And it allows us to represent and sort of transfer value reallyefficiently because we're dealing in a layer of abstraction outside of physicalgoods, financial derivatives.

Five layers of abstractions. Right? It'slike there's this thing of value where you can loan that thing of value out.Yeah. And you're like, what does this bundle of loans equate to a differentlevel, like a different layer of abstraction? And a lot of those layers ofabstraction are representative of like sort of humans and human game theory.

Mm-hmm. Right? So people that are likedoing stock trading or predicting, or people that are just in the financialworld need to assume that humans are going to do a certain thing in the. Sofinance lives in this kind of abstract space that allows predictions about whathumans are going to do, not always right, not always super effective, butthat's kind of the game that you're playing.

And then crypto is the next layer ofthat, right? So it's sort of like we have set up a new filing system. For ourseries of abstractions that we as humans sort of operate within. And it's a muchmore efficient approach and it's much more defensible against things likeauthoritarian Yeah. Um, Takeover or even sort of like private corporatetakeover.

Sure. Right. So, because it's a newstructure that allows for these series of abstraction to interact with eachother, each other there's a fur, like a fertil. Growth like I can't bringexplosion. That's, that's kind of what I was thinking of in the space becausenow we have a new structure with which to put our ideas into.

So it's very similar to finance in thatyou're doing, predictions about what humans will like, but now it's givinghumans new ways to connect with each other. And then we've gotta make newpredictions about these different ways. So finance sets your brain up to thinkabout things in those, in those abstract series.

And then blockchain takes it to the nthdegree. Yeah. Um, More fundamentally though, When you start to see the problemsthat arise in like payment tech for instance, people think about peer-to-peertransfers are very important. Like Venmo, PayPal, cash App, apple Cash is theproduct that I was working on.

There. It starts to become clear thatthere are a lot of hurdles and roadblocks and regulatory requirements that makelike difficult and stickier not sticky in the good sense, but sticky. There's alot of friction sense. Sure. So then when you see a new sort of set ofprotocols that eliminate some of those frictions, you can compare it to whatyou've already seen in finance.

Mm-hmm. You can compare it to the pain thatyou've seen in finance and say, oh wait, that's a much better solution forsolving X, y, or Z problems. So yeah, there are many layers between therelationship of finance and crypto that make. Complimentary.  

Julian: Yeah. I'm sointeresting. Thinking about you, you said something about the predictions haveto change, instead of kind of the new structure, this new foundation have otherpeople kind of, creating newer behaviors within this ecosystem.

When you say predictions on thatbehavior is it gonna change from anything that we don't know currently? Or isit gonna evolve? Like what kind of predictions are changing? And if you want,if you don't mind clarifying that, and what, what are some of your predictionsin terms of how behavior has changed already?

Colin: Sure. So there are afew places to start. One that's really obvious is NFTs, right? So likeeverything in the, in the space of NFTs revolves around game theory. Hey, arepeople gonna hype this up? Are the right people interested in this? If there'ssome way that I personally can hype this thing up to, to be to my own benefit,and then is someone else doing those things?

Because if they are, then you need torespond to them. So that's sort of like the cultural. Art, there's this worldin which art has been completely subverted because it's now on chain and youget like absolute knowledge of how many of the asset there are and when it,when it originated, how many people have held it.

All of these things that are sort ofadded variables in the prediction market, right? You've got like rarity traitsand things like that. Mm-hmm. But they're all absolute and on blockchain, sothey drive this feeling of ownership. Much different than a feeling ofownership when it's not on blockchain.

It feels more comprehensive and moreSure. Yeah. Because it's not owned by some centralized entity. So that inter,like that's a whole sort of subset of predictions that need to happen. And youcan look at just Bitcoin, right? Yeah. So Bitcoin is very, Easily predictablein that. Well, we know how many there are.

There are like, what, 19 and a halfmillion that have been minted so far. There will only ever be 21 million. So,you know that, the having the happening is happening every few years. So youcan start to make more serious predictions about the rarity and then when you,compare that to people's adoption of it.

And I think today, recently Bitcoin'sbeen going up as the US dollar has been faltering to some degree. Sure. In thepublic eye. You can start to see that, predicting political elements that areoff of blockchain can help you decide whether or not to buy something likeBitcoin.

And that's a much more. Casual, lessvolatile approach, and I know Bitcoin is still relatively volatile, but. Uh,That's another sort of predictive market. Do we care that? Yeah. Something thatis on chain and will have an absolute limited amount. Do we care that thatexists collectively as, as sort of like a human society?

Mm-hmm. It's kind of proving out rightnow and seems like we do. But that's a net new thing, right? But being able toput artificial limits on something digital, historically you might have said,well, that's just stupid. Like, those are artificial limits. Like who, why? Whydoes the limit matter if we just place them like.

But when you think about a lot of thethings that we do in the physical world, or even like the lower layers ofabstractions, we do those arbitrarily too. So we start to we start to kind ofpull the threads back. Yeah. Regarding like what actually, like what is behindthe US dollar, right? Right.

That's the question that's popping upnow because like Silicon Valley Bank collapses and think about like T-billsand, and like art rule, are those even secure? So long-winded way of sayingthere are a lot of different. There are new types of predictions that can bemade based upon new features that are novel to blockchain.

Yeah, and that's, that's reallyinteresting.  

Julian: Yeah. And it's sofascinating how kind of the, the other assets, the other asset classes kind ofget incorporated and mixed into this. It's not just, it's not just fiat. It'snot just, digital token. It, it's creating kind of this other ecosystem toassign value to something physical, which I know Freeport is working on, whichis so fascinating.

So, one I love the name. First of allfor those who don't know it, please describe what Freeport is and that the factis it's been around, Years, I mean, generations in terms of how people are, arehaving these kind of transactions with art. But also describe what'sparticularly interested in assigning something that's physical and tokenizingit and what that really means in terms of its ability to, to, have kind of, I,I guess community access in, in a way.

So describe Freeport for me, cuz I lovethe name. And then describe kind of the mechanics behind bringing somethingphysical to, to.  

Colin: So on Freeportspecifically, they, the legacy form of a Freeport is a location that kind of sitswithin these tax advantage zones where people oftentimes will store incrediblyvaluable goods, including artwork.

Yeah. And they'll trade it back andforth. And they can effectively avoid paying tax in whatever the localjurisdiction is because the trades are happening within free ports. So you endup with these locations that are just full of art or, or other sort of rarecollectibles. Yeah. And valuable things that are only owned by a very fewpeople and they take advantage of, of that, of that tax situation, let's justsay.

We're subverting that idea. Right? So,so we effectively are saying, well, let's take those things that are in theFreeport right now. Mm-hmm. Pull them out of it, allow folks to invest in them.Right. Or really technically what we're doing is we take the asset, we give itto a company, we fractionalize Sure.

That company, and we kind of securitizeit. So it's almost like a mini ipo. It's not an IPO to be clear, but it's, it'slike issuing shares. Right, right. So you're issuing shares in a company andthe sole asset of that, Is in our case the piece of fine art. Right? And thenonce you have those shares, you can tokenize them and you can, you can displaythose tokens on chain, right?

You can represent yeah. Ownership of thoseshares on chain. And then you get into a lot of the different benefits andutilities that that blockchain allows for. Yeah. Um, As one piece. And then theother piece that we think is really important is just moving as much valuethat's off of the blockchain as we can onto the blockchain, because we ashumans will be more.

Right. The, the more value we have onblockchain, which is this kind of higher layer of abstraction than we've seenbefore in finance, right? The more that we can do things like Trade One assetfor any other asset, right? Right. Like on Uniswap you can just go trade onetoken for another token. It doesn't matter what the token actually represents.

Yeah. It's just like, well, we all havethis one sort of software protocol layer and now we can just swap things. Orlike, right. The ability to just stake one token and take a loan out against itbecause other people recognize that that token is valuable and it can act ascollateral. Yeah. So if all of this exists on one blockchain and the blockchainis decentralized and not owned by, by one specific group, then you start to getan ecosystem that works much more efficiently with itself.

So the, the value that we have that'soff of blockchain right now, and not all value needs to be brought onblockchain to be clear. But a lot of things should when that value is on chain,then like we're all better as humans, right? So that's another goal that. I, Ishould mention, if we're gonna talk specifically about the offerings, I do haveto read out a quick disclosure.

Please do um, from the SCC and we cantalk about why is it cool if I do that? Please go ahead. Cool. All right, sohere's the fun part, but an affiliated Freeport is anticipating making andoffering of securities. Under tier two of regulation A, no money or otherconsideration is being solicited, and if sent in response will not be.

No offer to buy. Securities can beaccepted and no part of the purchase price can be received until an offeringstatement filed with the s e has been qualified by the s e. Any such offer maybe withdrawn or revoked without obligation or commitment of any kind at anytime before notice of acceptance given after the date of qualification by the se c or as stated in the offering materials relating to an investmentopportunity as applicable.

An indication of interest involves noobligation or commitment of any kind, and people can check out the offeringcircular for the offerings themselves at Freeport dot. It's a lot.  

Julian: Yeah. Just going backto Freeport real quick, what, what kind of inspired the idea with all theassets that are out there?

Why Art one particular got youfascinated by fine art. And, and its ability to be kind of put on chain and,and then fractionalize, obviously we become fractionalizing kind of assets.Become popular kind of more so as a lot of blockchain networks are, are allowingthe possibility to do so.

But what in particular got you excitedabout it?  

Colin: Yeah, so, well, firstand foremost, there's a precedent for art on chain, right? So we look at NFTsand we can see that people understand the concept of holding something that'svaluable, that's been tokenized, that is sort of aesthetically pleasing. So, sothat's a critical, a critical element.

The second. Owning arts or investing inart and sort of collectively owning Via, via these companies that we put togetherallows for communities to sort of grow together. Right? Yeah. Because you're onchain now, you can see that other people have invested in the same, Basquiat orthe same Warhol painting, let's just say that was purchased on Freeport.

So now you can interact with not justother folks who own the token because it's sort of, it can be made visible ifpeople so. But you can also then inter-operate with other platforms. So to giveyou an example, if at some point in the future we wanted to create a buildingin the sandbox or land or any other metaverse and allow people to hang artwell, we can ensure that the only people hanging that art are the ones who ownthe token.

Yeah. In their wallet. Right. So, it'smostly because there's precedent. It's also because like people understand thevalue of art. Yeah. It's like, it's one of those things that's. Even thoughit's an intangible, people feel like it's like it is tangible. Yeah. So it's,again, because there's precedent because artwork can be visualized and, andthen you can have it interact with different types of protocols and metaversesin an interesting way.

And because frankly it hasn't been amarket that's been achievable for a lot of people outside of crypto. Right?Right. So if you want to have exposure to fine art, you generally, the fine artthat does really well, let's just say, or historically has done really well,like blue chip master. You have to have hundreds of thousands, if not millionsof dollars just to spend on art.

So the fractionalization and thetokenization element and bringing group ownership together around these assetsthat normally people couldn't get access to is a significant driver. We thinkwe can open up a new market. We can introduce a new population of people to artwho may not have been into art previously because now they can get some skin inthe game.

Right, right. So it's not just lookingat it at a museum, it's really investing in the piece. So there are a, a lot ofdifferent reasons, but art seems like absolutely one of the best places tostart when it comes to bringing value on chain. Yeah. And  

Julian: how does that changethe, the fine art industry in particular?

Or what, what are some predictions ormaybe even some observations you've already seen being that it's such, it wassuch a privatized market. Only those who could purchase up to a certain amount,we're able to purchase certain pieces of art and it really, the value of itwas, was oftentimes not you, you really didn't get a hint of it.

In real time, you'd. Find out whatsomething's valued at once there was a big purchase by that auction or somebodygot, you know, yeah. yeah. Wind of, of a private, transaction. How does thatchange kind of that dynamic of, being such a privatized and kind of under a lotof mystique in, in terms of fine art  

Colin: and transactions?

Yeah, yeah, totally. I think the mostrecent large headline was, a blue Maryland, a blue shot. Which I believe wasactually shot when Andy Warhol was shot, went for 195 million. Wow. Either lastyear or the year before. Time fl during Covid. Yeah. And like, those are thethings you hear of the art world though, right?

Or even if you walk into a museum or agallery. Currently most people are walking in and thinking I shouldn't either,like, I shouldn't be here, or I, there's no way that I have the right to ownthese things. It's really this experience that you think about walking into anart museum. You look at the art and it's so separate from you, right?

It's like, it's so, it's so likeunachievable. You're just like, well, this is some other world that differentpeople play in and not me. And that's not, we want to remove that feeling,right? So if we can remove that feeling for potential investors and they canfeel like, all right, well, I can actually take part in the art world.

There's no longer this invisible barrierbetween it and me. Then you can see this influx of people who are nowcomfortable becoming sort of art investors and art connoisseurs. Yeah. And thatmeans you've got millions of people who are capable of investing in thesepaintings rather than just, a few thousand.

Right. Right. And what that does isobviously, it, it increases demand and, and hypothetically at enough scale itcould increase the value of the artwork. Yeah. And we think that continuing todrive in that direction is going to be. AI art is another thing that we cantalk about. We fundamentally believe that AI art is going to limit the need forreal human artists.

So over time there are gonna be fewerand fewer artists. Sure. And the physical artwork that does exist, like theclassics that are actually representative of human interaction with the, withthe physical world Yeah. Are gonna continue to go up in value as well. Right.We'll start to think like what actually makes us human?

What, what actually makes us part of ourculture? And art is one of the first things that you can point to in thatscenario, especially physical art that some other, master has touched. Right.So, there are a lot of horses that we believe are gonna be driving the artmarket into a much more democratized mm-hmm.

Uh, World, but will also likely increasethe prices, assuming the trends that we're seeing continue. Yeah, no guaranteesby the way, anything goes up in price, but that's one of our thesis. Well,  

Julian: it's fascinating alsothinking about the possibilities for artists and, and, within kind of the, thevoting system of, blockchain and, and kind of how it's set up.

Strategic or not strategically, theprinciples behind it. You can see a lot of artists potentially, gaining inpopularity in, in a world where maybe they, they didn't have that opportunity.A set amount of people maybe deem their art as not as valuable as another, butmaybe the masters kind of can, can perpetuate that artist's popularity byagreeing upon the value.

Have you seen any kind of surprisingtrends in that direction? Or is, or is mainly the, the, the assets that youhave more popularized kind of, people are more well known, but you know, kindof thinking about, the artists who are emerging or maybe not as popular in thepublic eye, even if they have passed.

Have you, can you see that changing interms of, gaining popularity of artists that are less known today?  

Colin: So a hundred percent.I think that is the trends and PE there are. So I think the NFT world was agood indication of how people can create insular groups with like even 10people, but 50 people.

A hundred people, 200, yeah. 10,000 waskind of the standard number for NFT collections and people band together andcreate a community oftentimes around an artist or. Someone who may otherwisenever have been heard of. Right. Yeah. If the idea is good enough and they canall connect to each other and prove that they're part of the same group byvirtue of owning that art together.

Right. So the ability to create theselittle capsules of excitement Right. That are these like sort of minicommunities will absolutely apply to artists who are doing things in thephysical world right now. Yeah. But might wanna bring them on chain. AtFreeport, we haven't we very much want to work with living artists in the.

We haven't gotten into that lane yet,but if you look at sort of like ultra-modern or, or hyper modern art, I, Iforget what, which was. It is, but it went up like 600% a few years ago. Right.And these are people that like you never would've, would've heard of before.But there's, there's desire and there's this kind of thirst to be first, right?

Yeah. And to like get to. Like even onTikTok right now, there's this trend where like you want to be liking people'sthings first or following them first before other folks, before they've blownup, right? Yeah. Because it gives you more credibility. Yeah. So I think allthose factors are gonna be working in favor of living artists right now.

And again, blockchain is just one ofthese platforms that let you. Identify who your collectors are too, right? Soyou can, you can see who's bought your previous art and just give them accessto the next collection or maybe like the third collection. And technologically,as an artist can continue making money off of that, off of future sales.

Um, But you can also build outexperiences. Yeah, which are gonna be revenue drivers. And they allow you tocontinue telling your story in different formats because your tokens can act asa gate to the experiences that, that you want to create for users. So it's likeI, if you're an artist listening out there, you'd be crazy not to be exploringthe blockchain space right now.

Julian: Yeah, yeah. And I lovewhat you talked about, and I call it kind of the mixtape phenomenon. It's whensomebody wants to know, the, the genesis of an artist at that time and pointand, and kind of be part of that experience as they grow. And, and it's sofascinating that, being on chain kind of allows you to have that authentic.

Not only experience, but also you havethat ownership of that experience for, however long in time because of, when itwas timestamped, right? It's like that authentic, you could prove that you werean original, an OG listener or an OG kind of art fan of a certain individual. Andit's really cool how it kind of drives community.

And one little bit before we go intosome other questions here is, is like, what does that mean? You, you talkedabout kind of micro. And being that I feel like historically, you know, you hadlike sneakerheads who loved Jordan's, right? And you kind of had this wholephenomenon fixated on one brand or one type of, of asset or, or good or serviceor what, what have you.

But what does that mean now that kind ofblockchain spreads out this huge umbrella of micro ownership? And then you canhave all these different. How do you think people will interact? I guess moreof like a human philosophical question, but like, how do you think communitiesare going to continue to kind of be kind of boundless and you can kind of optin and opt out?

What does that mean in terms ofsomeone's, I'd say allegiance to a certain community and, and how that howcommunities can  

Colin: interact. Yeah. So Ithink more niche is certainly going to feel better, at least for the, for thenext few years. Yeah, there. Come a point wherein you have too much choice.Right?

So like one of the things that Appledoes really well as an example, is they do limit customer choice to somedegree. Mm-hmm. And it's not just so that they can control everything all thetime, but it's because humans actually don't wanna spend that much time makingdecisions. Like, I would rather have three things to choose from and 10,000things to choose.

So I, and, and we'll see that play out alittle bit in the, the blockchain space too, with different like protocols andlike, it's very likely that 90% of what exists now will not exist. Sure. In twoyears. Maybe, maybe less so. So what I'm getting at is there will be reallyniche audiences and I think that people.

Finding themselves in smallercommunities these days. Yeah. Because the technology does allow for it more.But we'll probably go through ebbs and flows of, I mentioned the ca cab marineexplosion before. If there are too many things that all pop up at once Yeah.Then people can get burnt out.

And that tends to be what happens whenthe market did what it did. Yeah. Until a year ago when it was just absolutelycrushing. Yeah. Everyone sees where all the money is and it's like new thing,new thing, new thing, new thing, new thing. But I think what'll end up isthat'll, that'll. Right. And there will be fewer communities that, that lastYeah.

For many years. But that thosecommunities will still be more niche Yeah. And more disconnected than what we'veseen historically and decentralized  

Julian: effectively. Yeah.Yeah. What are some of the, if you, kind of take a step back, whether it'sexternal or internal, what are some of the biggest risks that you thinkFreeport faces today?

Colin: I, the, the market istough. We're, we're in just a weird time. Right. And you generally want towanna be launching when spirits are high and that everyone feels fantastic. Nowwe, we do have the benefit of being in the tangible asset and, and art space.And art happens to do very, very well in times like this, which is which isuseful for us.

Yeah. As far as distribution. There arepotential regulatory hurdles in the future. We've completed our review with,with the SCC at this point in time which is fantastic that, that we've gotthat. Sort of done with but you never know what might come on the horizon.Yeah. I mean, like Elizabeth Warren just declared she's building an anti cryptoarmy.

I don't know what that means, right? Butit's a scary thing. Sure. Um, So even if the regulation doesn't come, the sortof the threat of regulation can lead to different impacts. Like we wanted toaccept crypto at launch as an. We won't be able to accept crypto at launchbecause Signature Bank was shut down and Signature Bank was the bank that ourescrow partner uses to accept crypto payments.

So like that's that is a kind of risk.Sure. It's not fundamental to what we're up to. Right? Like we really justwanna bring art to, to the world. We want to democratize access to it. We wantto give an incredible new. That people haven't had before when it comes toartwork, but there's still, these, these fringe things that can, can happen on,on the regulatory side.

Yeah. We also, because we're going thisroute of reggae and we're gonna be offering these assets as securities we dohave more protections against those things, right? So like, if, if somethingterrible happens to blockchain we can still do everything that we're doing offchain. It's not like people will lose their assets.

Yeah. So, so that part is. But it'll bea constant navigation problem for us, but that's something that we're excitedto do, right? Yeah. We, we want to be on this frontier of what has historicallybeen legally possible and what will be legally possible in the next couple ofyears, and we wanna be the ones pushing that forward continuously.

Yeah. I

Julian: guess if everythinggoes well, what's the long term vision?  

Colin: My long term vision isto. Incredible. So to have as many incredible collectible assets as possiblethat people can really invest in. Yeah. Right. And not just have them be ownedby like the Uber rich or billionaires create virtual experiences for thoseassets.

So if you think about, some part of thereason that the Metaverse failed is because, well, I mean it's not totallyfailed yet, but like, has historically failed is cuz the things there aren'trepresenting value yet. But imagine if there were a virtual space and thethings. Correlated to things that were physical, that that had real value,right?

So we wanna create those virtual spaces,but then we also want to create, I wanna have a gallery in New York, in agallery in la. We won't have that at launch, but for customers to be able tocome in and view the artwork, like I mentioned before, not as someone who's ina museum where the artwork is completely unapproachable, but as someone whoactually has invested in it.

Yeah. And like, owns shares in it. Likea lot of the other people that. That we'll be doing the same. So creating aspace that's both physical and digital, but is based in real financialgroundings. Again, which is why we're going through the S sec and we're notdoing some like offshore Singaporean or like Bahamian organization.

That's the world we envision, right? So,so being able to come to Freeport, having all of these assets in one place thatrepresents the things that you own that are expensive, cool. Things and thenbeing able to interact with the other people that, that are there as well,right? And being able to comment on other people's galleries and, and theircollections.

We're bringing all of those elements tolife over time. And I think it's gonna end up making ownership itself feelfundamentally different. Yeah. From how it feels today.  

Julian: Yeah. It's amazing tosee kind of ownership as a shared experience versus so kind of individualfocused, going to a gallery, seeing your fractional ownership of, a piece ofart.

And then, going with somebody who hasanother fractional, a piece of another art and kind of having. Conversationaround it and, and what that kind of changes a lot of the conversation veryversus, a one-to-one transaction and people can kind of share in thatexperience, which sounds so fascinating.

And it's amazing kind of how that'llgrow and, and what those communities, where those communities will land and,and where you'll see those communities grow. I was like, this next section,I'll call it my founder faq. So I'm gonna go through some rapid fire questionsand we'll see where we go.

So, first question I always like to askto break it in is, what's particularly hard about your.  

Colin: There are just so manythings to think about. Yeah. From a, marketing perspective, a productperspective, a fundraising Yeah. Perspective, a legal and regulatoryperspective.

You need to be juggling all things atonce and generally as a startup founder, you want to be able to focus. Yeah.But there's just a lot to do. Yeah. So, so getting your, having enough energyin your brain to go from one idea to the next, to the next, to the next Yeah.Can be tough. Yeah.  

Julian: What's particularlyhard about, like art sourcing being that a lot of, pieces of art are either ingalleries or museums or owned by private owners, what's the challenge aroundart sourcing and how are you able to, you know, kind of get an actual asset tobe able to, use on Freeport and, and be able to kind of use on the.

Colin: Yeah. It's an opaquemarket, right? Like prices aren't always readily available. Yeah. People whoown pieces don't necessarily want the rest of the market to know what they own.There are shady practices that go on for sure. So like there are a lot ofdifferent elements that make it a little difficult for us.

Mm-hmm. We were very lucky. We, webrought in some of the strongest advisors that exist. So we've got Jane Holzer,who was a Warhol superstar when she was younger. She's an art collector in NewYork City. We have Michael Haber, who's been a Warhol dealer in New York Cityfor 30 years at this point in time.

We have an advisor who's a curator atthe, at the Pace Gallery. So we have a lot of trusted inroads that, like, if wejust tried to start Freeport without those trusted inroads into this space,yeah, it would be a nightmare for sure. But I will say since, since we havebeen getting the word out a little bit more, we've had inbound.

So really someone representing an ownerof a Banksy in the UK reached out and said, Hey, can you, can you fractionizethis Banksy? Yeah. And it. Painting on the side of a wall that's been cut outlike bricks Yeah. That have been cut out from, from the building where Banksypainted it. And they want us to do that.

We've, we've spoken with other largebrands that have assets, that have art assets that want us to tokenize them. Sowe're in a unique position in that we're taking assets that are off of theblockchain and we're putting them on chain. So if you're a web two companymm-hmm. And you need a web three strategy, let's just say you're a VP of likeX, Y, or z.

And it's time to get into web three.Well, we have created this sort of legal infrastructure and the organizationalstructure such so that you can take the assets you already have and tokenizethem. And then you can start to do interesting things. You can allow for yourcustomers to invest in whatever those assets are.

Yeah, you can offer experiences to yourcustomers based upon their ownership of those tokens. So there are a lot ofdifferent possibilities that that open up. So because of that, we've had moreinbound than you might expect. Because people like the capability on the otherend, right? Yeah. I have this art, how do I do cool things with it?

And we do the cool thing with it.Yeah.  

Julian: And what does it meanfor the experience from a consumer standpoint being that you have now thisdifferent level of attachment, say, with a figure or an artist or, it, it couldeven be a corporation. And, and the, I guess, accountability that those artistsand corporations have, because I feel like a lot of popularity is gained.

Knowing what you're getting and knowingwhere it's coming from and knowing the practices it was made, at least in goodsand services, how does it change the relationship between artists and consumerof those, of those artists and, and how they understand kind of the lifeexperience, but also how they either opt in or opt out to, being a fan of thatparticular person.

Have you seen anything kind of change interms of that relationship between, the artists and, and, and the.  

Colin: There's a lot going onthere. Yeah. Because, because an artist can choose how much of the technologythey want to interact with. Mm-hmm. Or they want their consumers or, or their,their customers to interact with.

Some customers may choose to display theartwork that they get from an artist out loud and some may not like the ideathat it's publicly visible within their Ethereum wallet. Yeah. And that there'sa world in which they may be identified. Like, some people wanna remainsynonymous, right? Even if they're big time collectors.

So I think that there, there's a massiveamount of functionality that blockchain allows for. And if you're a, you know,if you're a creator, you can do token gated events or you can ask yourcustomers to engage with their ownership in ways that you can never ask themto. I think we're gonna go through this period of Yeah, kind of finding outlike what people actually enjoy.

Like does privacy really matter topeople? Are like, are zk roll ups going to be critical in kind ofauthenticating owners without bringing to life? Like who, what, what their,their real life identity looks like. There, there are a lot of elements thatare still playing out, but I think long term, what we're seeing right now arethe foundational structures that are being built.

Like the pipes are being built under thecity still. Yeah. Right. And the buildings that are gonna pop up and befrequented within that city. Have yet to be defined. Some of them are, arecoming to light. Like you, you see a few, like Uniswap is pretty permanent now.It feels like an ave is pretty permanent cuz like the, the functions that theyserve Yeah.

Are like fundamental. And there are someNFT groups that seem. Like Yuga lab seems to have a lot of lasting power.Crypto punk seem to have a lot of lasting power. So you can start to like lookat those communities and see how those folks are interacting and continue toevolve. And I think that'll be a pretty good roadmap.

For defining what the long lastingrelationship might look like between creators and their communities.  

Julian: Yeah. I always like toask you some, some other fun questions, but I, I like to ask this one. What'ssomething that you spend a lot of time on that you would like to spend less on,something you spend little time on that you would like to allocate more to,whether it's personal or  

Colin: business.

I spend a lot of time worrying, worryingand like, Partially for regulatory reasons. Sure. Just because there's so manyunknowns right now. So I'd, I'd like to spend less time worrying. I'd like forthere to be like clear regulatory guidance about what is acceptable, what's notacceptable. What is it like, is Bitcoin a security?

Is Ethereum security right now? Sure.We're assuming they're not, but. Who knows. So less time worrying. Yeah, forsure. Than, than I currently spend. And then more time being out in person. Soa lot of what we're building is digital and we we're creating these experiencesat scale because that's where we need to be at the time of launch.

But I'd love to be in a physicalgallery, right? Yeah. And like run our company out of a location. We can haveactual humans come in. I am one of the rare few who I think miss having anoffice to go into at least three days a week, let's not go too crazy. So, so Ithink physical, in-person activities, activations people should notunderestimate the value of that to their health.

And the value to the world. Yeah.  

Julian: I always like to askthis question cause I love how founders extract knowledge from anything thatthey ingest. Whether it was early in your career or now, what books or peoplehave influenced you the most?  

Colin: This is, this is morephilosophical, but Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow.

Yeah. He does a really good job ofdelineating the difference between what we're consciously thinking and whatwe're subconsciously thinking and how powerful our subconscious brains are. Soit's, it's hard as someone who considers themselves thoughtful to relysometimes on your subconscious brain, but after you train it enough times to docertain things.

It can become really, really useful tojust allow your subconscious brain to do things. Yeah. So, so that book wasreally, really insightful. Just clarifying the two sort of modes of thought.Sure. And letting me feel, feel good with my uh, I, I believe it's the firstsystem is the subconscious one.

Yeah. That was a good one. And Zero toOne by Peter Teal. Yeah. I don't fully submit to all of Peter Teal's let's saypolitical leanings, but I do believe that he's So those are two books that Ithink back to pretty often.  

Julian: I love that. And Ialways like to make sure, I know we're coming to the end of the show here, butI always like to make sure we didn't leave anything on the table. So is thereany question I didn't ask you that I should have or anything that you would'vewanted to answer that you didn't get a chance yet?

Anything you left on the table hereColumn.  

Colin: No, I don't think so.People can go visit freeport.app and sign up for the wait list. That iscertainly something they can do. Now, we'll, we'll be launching in four and ahalf weeks our first collection. So, people should certainly check it out.We're gonna be revamping, I think, by the time this is published.

Yeah. We'll have a revamp landing pagethat tells the story pretty well.  

Julian: Yeah. And for ouraudience members, where can we find and support you? Give us your LinkedIns,your Twitters, wherever is best to, to, reach out and, and, be a fan of,of.  

Colin: On Twitter, you canfind me at Colin h Johnson.

And then LinkedIn. Just search for ColinJohnson. Freeport, you, you should be able to find me. And frankly, we're smallenough. If people want to email me@colinfreeport.app, feel free. Amazing.Hopefully I don't regret that. Yeah, yeah. No, you  

Julian: won. We have a, wehave amazing audience. And Colin, it's been such a pleasure chatting with you.

Not only learning about your journey asa founder, but also. What Freeport is doing to really kind of democratize this,this ownership of assets like fine art that seems so, out of reach for so manybits of the population, myself included. But having that, not only experienceto own something, but also to have a community around it, I think is soincredible.

And, and I'm so excited to see what moreassets you bring on to Freeport and how it, it continues to democratize thiswhole ecosystem of ownership and, and what it means to the evolution of owner.Moving forward. So Colin, it's been such a pleasure having you on the show. Ihope you enjoyed yourself, and thank you again for joining Behind.

Company Lines today.  

Colin: Thank you, Joan. It'sbeen a pleasure. Of course.

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