Last month Fanatics raised $100 million USD for its NFT marketplace Candy Digital. This fundraising caught my eye because it was the first time that money had been raised from outside of the group that came together to create Candy. Initially, when I learned about Candy, due to being the winning bid for MLB's NFTs, it was not described as a Fanatics venture rather it was a venture between Fanatics founder and CEO and two other crypto investors that label though seems to have changed a little bit.
While given the huge sums raised recently for different things the $100 million now really does not seem like much the investors who bought the idea and direction of the company leading to its $1.5 billion evaluation and the evaluation were impressive! In the Series A funding round, SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 and Payton Manning himself took part. SoftBank brings plenty of money behind it while Manning himself provides a fantastic link to the sporting world! By tapping into some of these funds and figures and getting them involved will in the long run help support the company to continue to build, last, and thrive.
While as it is right now Candy only offers NFT's for a select few college football athletes and the initial run of MLB NFT's Fanatics has done something that I do not think anyone saw coming. During the pandemic, trading cards took center stage and became a huge thing that people were interested in again driving values through the roof! This could not have come at a better time for card companies and really sports leagues since the contracts were all a few years off so it provided both sides with clarity on where the market was. The names associated with the leagues were set to score big time with Topps deciding to go public and Panini's sales soaring.
Within months though this really all died up and went away for these companies. MLB, NBA, and the NFL all signed over their trading card licenses to Fanatics a company that up until now had been a merchandize company! While both the NBA and NFL have signed NFT agreements with Dapper Lab I have not seen anything that would suggest that Dapper would be able to release NFT cards or vice versa. It leads me to believe that Fanatics either has the ability to or is working with Dapper to hammer out some details about it as NFT cards do make a lot of sense.
To help with this push and to encourage future momentum and adaptation Candy Digital has hired former Instagram executive Andre Llewellyn to be their Chief Marketing Officer. Llewellyn has operated in this space and before this job was working for a decentralized finance application or DeFi. With his hire, he has stated that the initial push of NFTs will be with the communities that already exist on Twitter and Discord before moving into other places like TikTock to attract more casual fans. A key thing he notes is tying NFTs to actual real-world rewards that holders can access. This is something that I also believe will play a key role in getting causal fan adaptation and I cannot wait to see how it shakes out!
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