Ryan Duffy

Digital Objects
Web3 art marketplace


Launched in 2018 and built on the Ethereum blockchain, Digital Objects was one of the world’s first Web3 marketplaces for creators, collectors, and curators of digital art. 


Founding team Head of Partnerships and Marketing    


Upfront Ventures  First Round Capital Initialized Capital NEA SV Angel Lowercase Capital


Three years before the NFT boom of 2021, our team made a bet on the future of digital art collecting. Read our launch story. 

TLDR: Digital Objects aimed to solve several longstanding problems in the art market: 

  • It’s hard for most artists to maintain a sustainable practice. Artists need and deserve more ways to generate revenue from their work.
  • Artists rarely benefit from their own secondary markets. They should receive guaranteed royalties when their works are sold between collectors.
  • Younger collectors are almost entirely priced out of the art market. They’re eager to collect, but the traditional market and gallery system favors ultra-wealthy, socially-connected, and geo-mobile buyers.
  • New media artists are attracting huge audiences online, but there’s no straightforward and scalable way to collect their art and support their craft.
  • Smaller galleries are struggling to survive. Due to changing market dynamics, rising costs, and an aging traditional collector base, the art market is consolidating into a small set of powerful galleries.

Product The Digital Objects web app was designed to make it simple for anyone to purchase limited-edition digital artworks. To mitigate any perceived complexity surrounding the blockchain and to broaden our addressable market of collectors, payments were accepted in both crypto and cash. 

Creator acquisition We might take it for granted today, but in 2018 almost no one had heard of NFTs. As Head of Partnerships responsible for populating the marketplace with notable established artists, explaining the ins and outs of esoteric blockchain technology and the concept of provably rare limited editions of digital art (”Can’t I just right click to save?”) made for the most challenging creator acquisition work of my career. Persuasion required simplification.

I enlisted the help of Kerry Doran, then the Director of top New York contemporary art gallery Postmasters, to help us navigate the creator acquisition process and open doors to artists and institutions. 

Fortunately, many saw the opportunity. We successfully onboarded dozens of artists to the platform, many of whom would go on to great success as NFTs exploded in popularity in the years that followed.

Diffusion, Mark Dorf, 2018
Maria Antelman, Three Hands, 2018
Skull No. 1, John Karel, 2018
Worm Smelling A Rose, Molly Soda, 2018
Julian Glander, Massage, 2018
« I got my own blockchain » says the rapper, Emilie Gervais, 2018
Tigre Fatigué, OBVIOUS, 2018
Smiling From Ear To Ear, Molly Soda, 2018
Garden No. 3, Huiqian Wu, 2018
testing 2 (tokyo), strawberries for two, 2018
BRCSE-WMN, Josh Ringling, 2019
Kinley, Emma Stern, 2019

Like so many startups before, Digital Objects turned out to be the right idea at the wrong time. Although the market wasn’t mature enough to support a venture-scale business in 2018-2019, we were happy to see so many of our original theses on the future of digital art validated over the coming years, and to see so many talented artists receive reward and recognition for their work in ways that weren’t possible ever before. 

In 2020, our team wound down Digital Objects and pivoted to our next startup, Knowable

Made in Los Angeles