Fanatics, a global e-commerce platform for licensed athletic merchandise, aims to appeal to “fanatics” devoted to their chosen teams. If you love expressing your passion for a team through apparel, Fanatics is the place to go. The company's valuation is expanding quickly, too, making investors wonder if Fanatics is a public company.
Fanatics offers branded sports team apparel for all major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, MLS, and PGA) and many college and other pro teams. The company has a partnership with JCPenney to sell branded Fanatics sports merchandise, and it’s expanding to become a multi-business digital platform.
Fanatics' valuation has grown 4 times in last 18 months
In March 2022, NFL, MLB, and other players' unions led a new round of investments for Fanatics that drew $1.5 billion and gave the company a valuation of $27 billion. Leagues, players’ associations, and team owners now own approximately 10 percent of Fanatics. On April 6, Fanatics revealed that NFL was the single largest investor in the latest round, contributing $320 million. In its previous funding round, in Sept. 2021, Fanatics raised $325 million and was valued at $18 billion.
Prior to that, a March 2021 fundraising round gave the company a valuation of $12.8 billion, double its valuation in its previous funding round. In the last 18 months, Fanatics' valuation has grown by more than four times.
Fanatics' growth: Acquisitions, sports betting, and NFTs
The company has made several acquisitions to grow its business, including college headwear brand Top of the World and licensed sports goods company WinCraft. It also has partnerships with Lids and Barnes & Noble Education to operate 770 collegiate websites and bookstores.
In Aug. 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that Fanatics was expanding into online sports gambling, facing competition from DraftKings, FanDuel Group, and more. And in 2022, the company launched Candy Digital, its own platform for NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and other virtual collectibles. Equity partners in the deal are Michael Novogratz and Gary Vaynerchuk.
A major catalyst behind the company’s rising popularity is its new deal with the unions representing Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Football League (NFL). Sports trading cards rely on such deals for the rights to use players’ images and teams’ logos and trademarks. The deal also displaced Topps as the leader in the baseball-card market, and Topps was eventually acquired by Fanatics in Jan. 2022.
Is Fanatics publicly traded?
As the company’s valuation shows no signs of stagnation, there are rumors circulating that the company might IPO soon. However, the company has not given any clarity on this front. A company spokesperson said, “Our focus remains on expanding the business and building the leading digital sports platform over the next decade and beyond.”