Founder: Michael Rubin (CEO)
Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida
Financing: $4.2 billion
Grade: $27 billion
Key technologies: Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning
Previous appearances in the Disruptor 50 List: 2 (No. 25 in 2019)
Fanatics has established itself as a leader in sporting goods and trade with exclusive licensing agreements ranging from the NFL and NBA to the International Olympic Committee.
Now he is looking to further expand his sports industry by targeting digital collectibles, sports betting and trading cards.
Newly launched NFT and digital collections company Candy Digital secured initial exclusive rights with MLB and MLBPA to create baseball-related digital products with the goal of doing what Dapper Labs, ranked 10th on this year’s Disruptor 50 list, did around the NBA . Candy Digital said it raised $100 million in a Series A round from investors such as SoftBank’s Vision 2 Fund and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, valued at $1.5 billion.
Last year, the Fanatics hired former FanDuel CEO Matt King to break into the booming U.S. sports betting market. While Fanatics filed an unsuccessful bid for an online sports betting license in New York, losing out to the likes of DraftKings, Caesars and FanDuel, Fanatics is reportedly considering potential acquisitions in the space.
Perhaps the biggest part of the sports business industry that fanatics are destroying is card trading. The company surprised many last August when it struck a deal with MLB to become its card partner, ousting Topps in the process, which had become almost synonymous with baseball cards dating back to 1952. NBA.
Then in January, the fanatics acquired Michael Eisner-owned Topps for about $500 million following Topps’ $1.3 billion merger with SPAC that fell apart after losing MLB rights.
It’s also been a boon for sports commerce as the leagues have welcomed fans into stadiums and largely spent seasons unburdened by Covid-19. Fanatics said it projects $4.5 billion in revenue from its e-commerce business in 2022, up from $2.3 billion before the pandemic. The company claims to have over 80 million users in its business, providing additional business opportunities for its new sports-focused ventures.
All of this has helped the fanatics move up a few rounds over the past year. The latter, in March, raised $1.5 billion from investors such as the NFL, the NFL Players Association, MLB and the NHL. Other investors include Fidelity, BlackRock and Michael Dell’s MSD Partners.
As a result, Fanatics’ valuation jumped to $27 billion from $18 billion less than a year ago.
“We are thinking about how to build a company that is loved by billions of sports fans around the world,” Fanatics CEO and founder Michael Rubin said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference in Boston on March 4. “Evaluation just follows business results.”
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