Candy Digital, the collectibles company launched earlier this year by Fanatics, crypto investor Michael Novogratz, his Galaxy Digital firm and media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, has raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation.
New investors in the NFT platform include retired NFL star Peyton Manning, Insight Partners and SoftBank, through its Vision Fund 2. Candy plans to use the money to accelerate its growth, particularly important in an industry quickly being carved up by fast-moving companies looking to ink exclusive deals with athletes, leagues and teams.
It’s also the latest in what has become a trend for Fanatics: large valuations for companies that it has launched just in the last few months. Fanatics Trading Cards, which is yet to release a single product, raised $350 million last month at a $10.4 billion valuation. Candy Digital was formed in June, and is just starting to release product.
“By combining Fanatics’ proven track record with blockchain and NFT expertise, we believe Candy Digital is creating a leading platform that offers consumers the opportunity to own a unique digital asset,” Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement. “The company’s partnership with MLB and MLBPA is a strong indication that fans and collectors want to engage with their favorite sports, music, and art in new ways.”
Candy Digital, which is already well positioned in baseball, is hoping to build a one-stop marketplace where fans can buy, resell and trade its NFTs. The company plans to launch an early version of that platform next week to coincide with the release of three new products surrounding the World Series and MLB playoffs. It has also released a few college NFTs through a handful of high-profile NCAA football players.
Candy Digital launched as a collaboration between Fanatics (the majority owner), Novogratz and Vaynerchuk. Other new investors in this round include Will Ventures, Connect Ventures (the investment partnership between CAA and New Enterprise Associates), Gaingels, and a number of current and retired MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA players, whose names were not released.
Fanatics is in the process of rapid growth, both in its core merchandise business, and in new areas such as NFTs, trading cards and sports betting. In August the ecommerce giant raised money at an $18 billion valuation, triple its valuation from just one year prior.
Part of that raise was aimed at helping the company push into these new areas, but the round closed before Candy Digital or the trading cards business achieved these recent valuations.
Insight Partners and SoftBank are also investors in the Fanatics merchandise business.