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Founder: Michael Rubin (CEO)
Spear : 2011
Headquarter: Jacksonville, Florida
$4.2 billion
Evaluation: $27 billion
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning
Previous appearances on the Disruptor 50 list: 2 (#25 in 2019)

Fanatics has established itself as the leader in sporting goods and commerce, with exclusive licensing deals spanning from the NFL and NBA to the International Olympic Committee.

Now, it is looking to expand its reach even further into the sports industry, focusing on digital collectibles, sports betting and trading cards.

His recently launched NFT and digital collectibles company, Candy Digital, has secured the initial exclusive rights with MLB and MLBPA to create digital products around baseball, aiming to do what Dapper Labs, ranked No. 10 on the This year’s Disruptor 50 list made it around the NBA. Candy Digital said it raised $100 million in Series A from investors including SoftBank’s Vision 2 fund and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, valuing it at $1.5 billion.

Last year, Fanatics hired former FanDuel CEO Matt King as part of an effort to break into the booming US sports betting market. While it bid unsuccessfully for an online sportsbook license in New York, losing to companies like DraftKings, Caesars and FanDuel, Fanatics is reportedly considering potential acquisitions in the space.

Perhaps the biggest part of the sports industry that fanatics confuse is the trading cards. The company surprised many last August when it struck a deal with MLB to be its card partner, supplanting Topps in the process, which had become almost synonymous with baseball cards dating back to 1952. It also got trading card licenses for the NFL and NBA.

Fanatics then acquired Michael Eisner-owned Topps in January for about $500 million following Topps’ $1.3 billion SPAC merger that collapsed after losing the MLB rights.

He also saw a boon for the sport business as leagues welcomed fans back to stadiums and played largely unhindered seasons from Covid-19. Fanatics said it forecast $4.5 billion in revenue for its e-commerce business in 2022, up from $2.3 billion pre-pandemic. The company says it has more than 80 million users across its business, providing new business opportunities for its new ventures aimed at sports fans.

All of this has helped Fanatics lift several rounds over the past year. The latest, in March, totaled $1.5 billion from investors like the NFL, NFL Players Association, MLB and NHL. Other investors include Michael Dell’s Fidelity, BlackRock and MSD Partners, among others.

The valuation of Fanatics thus jumped to 27 billion dollars, against 18 billion dollars less than a year ago.

“We’re thinking about how to build a business 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. “Valuation simply follows trading results.”

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