Fanatics has raised $350 million for its trading card company, a round that values the new venture, which has yet to release any product, at $10.4 billion, according to people familiar with the talks.
Fanatics will own more than 80% of the company, which is called Fanatics Trading Cards, with investors, sports leagues and players’ associations making up the rest, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. Investors in this round include private equity giant Silver Lake, talent agency Endeavor and VC firm Insight Partners, the people said.
Fanatics shook the trading card industry last month when it secured long-term exclusive licenses from the NBA, NBPA, MLB, MLBPA and NFLPA, which were all previously held by incumbents Topps or Panini. The surprise news scuttled a SPAC acquisition of Topps, and another potential SPAC deal for Panini.
Owned by billionaire Michael Rubin, Fanatics plans to build a one-stop platform for trading card enthusiasts, something different from the groups that currently control much of the industry. The company will release product but also have verticals where collectors can have cards graded, stored or resold, the people said.
There is no official timetable for the first product launch. A Fanatics spokesman declined to comment on the funding round or the group’s long-term plans.
The Fanatics Trading Cards playbook appears to be similar to the one that helped Fanatics build the world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel. Leagues that partnered with Fanatics have held equity in the company for years, creating aligned incentives and long-term cooperation. The NBA, NBPA, MLB, MLBPA and NFLPA will all be equity holders in Fanatics Trading Cards, the people said.
Josh Luber, co-founder of sneaker marketplace StockX, will help launch the company as a co-founder and chief vision officer.
The news continues a period of rapid growth and change for Fanatics. The company recently raised $325 million at an $18 billion valuation, triple its valuation from a round just one year prior. That valuation was built around the expanded vision of the company, which wants to use its relationships and customer base to push into new areas of sports and ecommerce.
Fanatics is moving into NFTs via a recently created venture called Candy, and is looking to launch a sportsbook at some point soon. A flood of high-profile executive hires have accompanied the changes, with an IPO continuing to loom in the background.