There’s a new platform for sports card trading, and it’s coming from a collector who knows the struggles of growing and maintaining a collection in the modern age. Leore Avidar created “Alt” to increase transparency and liquidity for alternative assets. He also wants to make it easier to buy and sell without ridiculous fees. Alt is on a mission to redefine investable assets.
Just a few days ago, I received the email confirming Alt was launching to the public. What I found was a fully functional database of nearly every sports card I could imagine. I began entering about 50 of my favorite cards to test Alt’s features, and I must admit, the platform is extremely smooth. There’s clearly a vision in place, and I’m blown away by the platform features just days after its release.
As I’ve played around with the new Alt platform over the last couple of days, the question popped into my head, “how the hell did they create such a smooth operating database so quickly?” Then I dug a little deeper and realized Alt is funded by some of the tech and sports world’s biggest names. It’s a starting lineup full of heavy hitters, and they very clearly are not messing around.
Alt founder Leore Avidar is locked and loaded with a freshly raised $31 million. And he’s managed to align himself with some of the best backers you could possibly imagine for an alternative asset investment platform. Alexis Ohanian, First Round Capital, Addition Ventures, Jeff Morris & Chapter One, Kevin Durant, Darren Rovell, Larry Fitzgerald, John & Patrick Collison, and many, many others are included as Alt investors. Looks like they forgot to ask me if I wanted in on the deal – again. I’d be in for the next round for sure, fellas.
There are a few key distinctions to understand about Alt. They are not a fractional share investing platform. You might be familiar with Rally, Otis, or Collectable, where you can invest in fractions of sports cards, such as the Honus Wagner T206 card valued at over $800,000. Alt is not that. Alt is a platform for people who own their own cards or buy entire cards for 100% of the ownership, no fractions going on here.
So Alt makes a perfect companion to the fractional share platforms. There’s no competition between the two; they are totally separate from one another. For items that are out of your price range, but you just want to get involved somehow, such as the 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie, then fractional investing is the way to go.
Only a select few people in the world are able to purchase an entire Wayne Gretzky rookie card; that’s what Rally is for. So you can buy a fraction of the greatest cards on earth at Rally, then head over to Alt and manage your ‘wholly-owned’ collection.
Chances are, if you love to invest in the very best of the best sports cards on the planet through fractional investing, you’ll want to also invest in 100%-owned, less expensive cards that you can take full ownership in. Part of the thrill in sports cards was always managing the buy, sell or trade aspect, and Alt gives you this power by supplying the platform your 1990s self could only dream of.
One more important distinction to keep in mind, which I really like. All items listed for sale on the Alt exchange are verified and authenticated. This limits the playing field to only quality graded cards—no more sifting through hundreds of ungraded, low-quality eBay listings.
One of the key features is the ‘Alt Value,’ where each card is updated daily using recent transactions and comparable sales data. You can perform this exercise on your own by Googling each card, and I’m sure you have in the past, but this is better. How many times have you typed full card descriptions in the Google search bar or the eBay ‘sold’ bar? Long-time card collectors know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a cumbersome process, to say the least.
Once you add a card to your portfolio, you’ll never have to type the description again. This seems like a small detail, but if you have hundreds of valuable cards, it’s a game-changer to see them all on one screen, automatically saved. And the portfolio is completely sortable by year, value, change in value, gain/loss, and purchase date. All the columns sort incredibly fast, by the way. Really impressive.
Currently, there are two sections to Alt, the ‘Portfolio’ and the ‘Exchange.’ The Portfolio is where your assets are held, and the Exchange is where you can buy and sell. After entering your collection into the Alt Portfolio, you will see all your assets on one screen with valuation data updated in real-time.
Alt Values are updated daily, but it’s not clear when updates occur. The Alt website mentions “real-time” valuations, so I’m guessing values will update whenever a comparable transaction has taken place, or “systematic market knowledge” directs the algorithm to do so.
Here’s the fun part. You now have your portfolio entered into Alt, shown as a list of assets on one single screen with updated valuations. You can click on each asset and explore the details and edit all information on your card, including adding photos of the card itself. This will prepare the eventual sale of the card if you choose to do so, but it’s also pretty cool to have the ability to see your actual card without having to go dig it out of your storage box hidden in the closet, or wherever it may be.
Buy and sell assets on the Alt Exchange. There’s already nearly 3,000 items listed for sale on the Alt Exchange. The platform is only a few days old, so I would imagine the number of items will grow exponentially. Soon, I would imagine you will be able to find any card for sale in almost any grade. The Exchange is fully searchable by sport, player, year, grade, and card brand. Judging by the lightning-fast response times from the search functions, the Alt Exchange database is juiced and ready for thousands of more entries.
Not only can you perform a detailed search for a particular card, but you can search the entire Alt Exchange by highest or lowest priced card, newest or oldest cards added, or by the quantity of a given card.
Currently, the highest-priced card for sale on the Alt Exchange is the 2003 Topps Chrome LeBron James Refractor BGS 9.5, selling for $150k. Don’t forget, each card is clickable for complete price history details, photos, and market activity data. This is where you can browse multiple cards and decide which one you will make offers on.
The Alt Vault
Another super cool feature with Alt is the ability to store your cards in the ‘Alt Vault.’ Yes, I’m dead serious. Alt will store your cards (the first 3 months are free) in their personal secure vault, fully insured and with high-resolution cameras verifying each deposit.
Now, why might Alt offer secure card storage in Vault, you might ask. It’s because active traders would constantly be shipping cards around the world every time they made a trade. Running off to the UPS Store with thousands of dollars in merch on a daily basis doesn’t sound like much fun to me. However, just like when you were a kid, buying, selling, and upgrading your collection was tons of fun. Now you can do it with a few clicks of the mouse, and rest easy knowing Alt is handling the dirty work.
I would suspect the Alt Vault will become a major feature of the new platform. It might take some time for users to warm up to the idea, but this makes so much sense. If you own graded cards that you would never consider selling, then keep them at home. But if you think you might be a seller, why not store the cards in the Alt Vault, just in case a buyer is ready to make a great offer.
The Future of Alt
Like I said earlier, Alt is not playing. They raised $31 million from some of the best and brightest investors from the tech and sports world. Just days after launch, they have a fully functioning marketplace for graded sportscards with a kick-ass database in Beta that will only get better at the passing of each minute. Where are they going from here?
It doesn’t take much thought to imagine the possibilities of Alt. Founder Leore Avidar has already talked about adding watches, sneakers, and art to the platform. I’m excited to see how the Alt team rolls out improvements to the first version and plans to integrate additional assets into the platform. Well done, Alt squad.