Online Auction House Tarisio Buys the Cozio Internet Instrument Site
Strings Magazine, January 2013
By Patrick Sullivan
The largest online archive of data on stringed instruments has been bought by an auction house planning a major website overhaul that may include removing ownership information. Tarisio, the online auction house that conducted last year’s record-setting $15.9 million online charity auction of the 1721 “Lady Blunt” Stradivari violin, purchased cozio.com in September for an undisclosed sum. Cozio, founded a decade ago by entrepreneur Philip Margolis, provides identification and pricing information on more than 50,000 stringed instruments and bows.
The deal has been in the works for months, Tarisio director Jason Price says. “Phil has done amazing things in creating Cozio, but I think he’s looking forward to moving on from the violin business into his next challenge,” Price adds.
The site’s new administrator—Mark Linnane—is working with developers to launch a redesigned cozio.com around the start of 2013. The revamped Cozio will feature a new search engine, photos from Tarisio’s extensive archive, and add analysis from a range of experts. Tarisio says it has no plans to increase subscription fees.
“Cozio has become the de facto place on the Internet to research makers and instruments,” Price says. “By consolidating the Tarisio photo archive with the Cozio database, we believe we will create a vast and dependable resource that will be indispensable for future generations.”
Cozio will operate as a stand-alone website with operational independence, Price says. “Tarisio owns it, but Cozio has a dedicated administrator and maintains itself and pays its own bills through subscription revenue,” he explains.
However, Tarisio’s archive will merge into Cozio’s and Tarisio members will get Cozio subscriptions.
Tarisio’s announcement has sparked concerns among some Cozio members about potential threats to the site’s independence and transparency. But Linnane, who is based in London and previously coordinated private sales at Sotheby’s, stresses Cozio’s operational independence. The site, Linnane says, will cover all auction houses equally and impartially. “People have a great deal of trust in Cozio, and I want to maintain that,” Linnane says.
Linnane also aims to improve the accuracy of Cozio’s data, which Price acknowledges needs more curatorial oversight. But the revamped site will likely omit information about current owners and players of rare stringed-instruments, which the site currently offers. “One of the most frequent complaints I hear from Cozio users is that the site is indiscrete and not respectful of owners’ privacy,” Price says. “Simply put, many owners don’t like seeing their names broadcast on the Internet.”
But Price also says he’s flexible. “I’ve been discussing this specific issue with several people in the trade that I trust and perhaps we will settle on a slightly modified approach, perhaps something of an opt-out system for owners who don’t want to be named,” he says.
“Pragmatically speaking, I’d like to listen to Cozio users on this issue.”