Fanatics has added two board members as it pushes into new areas like NFTs, trading cards and sports betting.
The company has appointed SoftBank managing partner Lydia Jett and TwentyFirstCenturyBrand executive chair Jonathan Mildenhall to help provide strategic vision and industry experience at a time of rapid growth. The Fanatics board, chaired by CEO Michael Rubin, is now comprised of 10 people.
“Fanatics is in the midst of incredible transformation and the deep expertise and insight that Lydia and Jonathan both bring to the board will be vital as we unlock a new digital experience for sports fans globally,” Rubin said in a statement. “They are both visionaries in their respective fields that will provide invaluable support and guidance as we continue building a revolutionary sports platform.”
The pair bring experience in fintech, e-commerce and marketing. Jett is head of e-commerce and U.S. consumer-focused internet investments at SoftBank Investment Advisors. She’s also the first woman to hold a managing partner title at the group’s Vision Fund, which is one of Fanatics’ largest outside stakeholders, and has spent the past five years working with the Fanatics executive team.
Mildenhall co-founded TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, a marketing consultancy, in 2018. Prior to that he was chief marketing officer at AirBNB (Nasdaq: ABNB) from 2014-2018, a time when the company’s valuation jumped from $1 billion to $31 billion, according to the announcement.
Both are also experienced board members at other companies. Jett has represented SoftBank on the board of more than a half dozen companies, including Coupang (NYSE: CPNG), Flipkart and GoTo, and is an independent board member of Ozon (Nasdaq: OZON). Mildenhall’s board positions include Peloton (Nasdaq: PTON) and GoFundMe.
Jett and Mildenhall join a company that is rapidly expanding, both in scope and in valuation. In the last two years Fanatics has launched a new NFT company and new trading card company, and is planning to enter sports betting shortly. Already the world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, the group wants to be a one-stop platform for sports fans across the world to buy, wager, trade and sell their passion.
In that time the company’s valuation has also soared. Fanatics raised money at a $6.2 billion valuation in August 2020, and this year raised money at a $27 billion valuation, an increase of 335% in roughly 18 months. It is now the 13th most valuable private company in the world, according to CB Insights.
The Fanatics board is comprised of three company executives, three investors (including SoftBank) and four independent members. Those independent members are Mildenhall, Storch Advisors CEO Gerald Storch, former WW International CEO Mindy Grossman and Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson.
Rubin has long intended to eventually take Fanatics public. It’s unclear how much these new business ventures have altered that goal.