After acquiring trading card company Topps last year, Fanatics is reportedly acquiring trading card company PWCC. If the name sounds familiar, PWCC had sold on eBay and was a major partner in the trading cards category, but then found itself accused by eBay of shill bidding and suspended from the marketplace.
ActionNetwork and ESPN reported the news on Monday, though Fanatics and PWCC do not appear to have officially announced the news themselves.
reported that “sources close to the deal” said the acquisition would prove beneficial to Fanatics Live, its planned live-shopping platform expected to launch in the second half of 2023.
eBay began focusing on a vertical strategy as early as 2020, with Trading Cards one of its first “Focus Categories.” It invested a lot of resources into building the category which soared during the pandemic. After it ejected PWCC, it launched its own authentication service and collectibles vault
to compete with PWCC, and it has also been trying to get live-shopping off the ground.
One collector saw the Fanatics acquisition as an opportunity for PWCC to make amends with eBay, tweeting
Bowman1951’s Sports Card Adventures (@bowman1951)
I just made a post that the most important asset of this sale is that physical vault and everything within it. Simply retire the name “PWCC”, rebrand as Fanatics Auctions and they’ll be back in the good graces with eBay in no time and cross selling.
5:29 PM · May 22, 2023
But much of the reaction on social media focused on Fanatics’ power in the industry, with some calling it a monopoly. One collector commented on Reddit
, “So Fanatics is going to make the cards in their design studio, package the cards in their warehouses, rip the cards on their break platform, and then sell the singles that end up in their auction house. Sounds like fun!”
Fanatics is a behemoth in the sports world with over 18,000 employees, and hundreds of partners, suppliers, and vendors worldwide. Here’s how it describes itself in part:
“Fanatics is building a leading global digital sports platform. The company ignites the passions of global sports fans and maximizes the presence and reach for hundreds of sports partners globally by offering innovative products and services across Fanatics Commerce, Fanatics Collectibles, and Fanatics Betting & Gaming, allowing sports fans to Buy, Collect and Bet. Through the Fanatics platform, sports fans can buy licensed fan gear, jerseys, lifestyle and streetwear products, headwear, and hardgoods; collect physical and digital trading cards, sports memorabilia, and other digital assets; and bet as the company builds its Sportsbook and iGaming platform. Fanatics has an established database of over 100 million global sports fans, a global partner network with over 900 sports properties, including major national and international professional sports leagues, teams, players associations, athletes, celebrities, colleges, and college conferences, and over 2,000 retail locations, including its Lids retail business stores.”
ActionNetwork said with Monday’s news, Fanatics has gained immediate traction in the online auction space, and explained what may have been behind the recent layoffs at PWCC, reported by Oregon Live
on May 1st.
claimed that PWCC had gotten in a bit of a pickle, reporting that it had allowed collectors to take loans out against cards stored in its vault, using the cards as collateral. “That helped light the card market on fire as some of those people then took their loan money to buy more,” it wrote, “But when the market plummeted, there were enough of those people who just said, “I’ll keep my money, you keep my cards.””