Fanatics valued at $27 billion in latest round of funding
Fanatics Inc. the licensed sports merchandise and apparel giant, has raised $1.5 billion in new investment that gives the rapidly expanding company a reported $27 billion valuation.
The $27 billion valuation, which is up from $6.2 billion in August 2020 includes the main merchandising business and a series of new business ventures (valued at around $18 billion). A trading card company with the recent purchase of Topps for $500 million (valued at around $10.4 billion) and Candy Digital NFT platform (recently valued at $1.5 billion).
New investors include Michael Dell’s MSD capital, BlackRock and Fidelity according to someone familiar with the deal. This is the largest funding round in Fanatics’ history.
In August 2021 Fanatics announced plans to evolve into a leading global digital sports platform and it continues to feed this expansion with the recent acquisition of Topps, Mitchell & Ness, and with plans to move into sports gambling, media and NFTs.
As per their website:
“Fanatics is furthering its innovation across the sports landscape and creating a next-gen digital sports platform, complete with offerings including merchandise, NFTs, sports betting and gaming, trading cards and much more. Fanatics is a company that the sports world has never seen before - and we’re just getting started.”
In 10 years, Fanatics has control over the sports licensing market. With plans to enter some of sports’ most competitive sectors, Fanatics CEO Mark Rubin ambition far exceeds merchandise licensing. Along the way it has accumulated a database of more than 80 million global customers which it hopes to leverage into being the Amazon of digital sports. A one-stop shop to create an all-in-one sports fan experience.
“Five years from now, you’re going to Fanatics, and you can watch a bunch of media there of live sports,”Rubin said at the CAA World Congress of Sports. “You can bet on sports with or without betting stats. You can buy your merchandise, you can get your tickets, you can get your trading cards, trade your NFTs. We think we have huge structural advantages that benefit the sports properties.”
The next frontier of sports betting
Former FanDuel Sportsbook CEO Matt King joined Fanatics in 2021 as its CEO of betting and gaming, with the intent to grow that division of the company as it moves forward into the booming sports betting industry. To become that broader digital sports platform, Fanatics is aiming each arm of its business deeper into fans’ relationship with their favorite sports.
Rubin told the Sports Business Journal however, that he’s not interested in acquiring an existing US-based sports betting platform.
“We have the team and the capital, but there’s no (domestic) businesses at their current market value that I have any interest in buying.”
With legal online sports betting available in New York, Fanatics partnered with Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sportsbook) in a bid for a New York license. The state issued nine mobile sports betting licenses in January 2022, unfortunately the Fanatics/Penn National partnership was not selected.
Rubin told Sports Business Journal that Fanatics may one day dominate sports betting. “We can be the number one player in the world in that business in 10 years. That does seem ambitious for someone who’s not in the business today, but our strategic advantages are that we are one of the best-known digital sports brands and we touch so many fans. There’s been so much money lost in the business, but we will be deliberate and I’m bullish on it being one of our key long-term businesses.”