For years, Joe Orlando was the public face of top-tier card grading company PSA. Orlando had served as the head of PSA since 1999 until his resignation in July of last year. At the time, I wrote that Orlando would be the industry’s hottest free agent. He almost certainly had many offers and likely had his pick of landing spots. In July I speculated that Orlando could have gone to a rival grading company or an auctioneer, and I have no doubts that he received opportunities to go to such places.
But last week, Orlando was announced as the President of Sports at Collectable. I’ve written about Collectable in the past, and had an interview with its CEO Ezra Levine last year. The company offers collectors the ability to purchase fractional ownership in sports cards, comic books, historical documents, and the like. While I had previously been critical of fractional investing because of the difficulty in monetizing your investment, Collectable offers an interesting twist on it: the ability for shareholders to vote to sell the piece to a single collector.
That Orlando went to Collectable — an upstart company involved in non-traditional asset investment — is extremely telling of the way the winds are shifting in the hobby. Sports cards were primarily a hobby for most of its existence, but over the past few years, the industry has shifted to a more investment-based focus. Orlando said as much in his statement about moving to Collectable:
“The collecting culture is evolving. At its core, the drive to collect and the interest in the collectibles themselves is still the same. The sentimental, emotional and nostalgic component of our endeavor is something that makes it different from so many other activities that involve a serious financial investment. That said, the way some people collect is changing.
When I first heard of the fractional platform concept, my inner, traditional collector wanted to scoff at the idea… and then something happened. What began as skepticism soon turned into intrigue. Instead of reacting emotionally to how foreign the concept felt, I started to think about the positive impact it could have. As time went on and I had a chance to think about it more and more, it became abundantly clear to me. The fractional concept wasn’t going away. It is going to be part of the next hobby metamorphosis.”
That one of the hobby’s biggest players moved from a traditional “old guard” company to a new and evolving area is extremely telling. The hobby is changing, interests are shifting, and more innovation is on the way. I’m excited to see what comes next.