The latest funding round by sports merchandise maker Fanatics topped $1.5 billion, increasing the company valuation to $27 billion.
Owned by Michael Rubin, investors in the privately held company include BlackRock, Fidelity, and MSD Partners, an investment firm controlled by Dell founder Michael Dell.
One of the most high-profile investors in Fanatics is Brooklyn native Shawn Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z. Carter serves as vice chairman and is on the board of directors of the company’s gaming arm.
Fanatics entering the gaming space
Last year, the company filed several patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Some of these patents include:
- Fanatics branded casino
- Mobile betting app
- Branded Fanatics sportsbook
According to the company, with its 83 million users,
“Fanatics is the largest and most valuable database of sports fans in the US.”
Fanatics was part of a bid to enter the New York sports betting market. Unfortunately, the company and partners Barstool and primary applicant Kambi were not selected.
Fanatics also hired several notable gaming executives, including former FanDuel CEP Matt King and Tucker Kain, former president of business enterprise for the LA Dodgers.
Becoming a publicly-traded company
With a $27 billion valuation, experts have speculated the company may entertain an initial public offering (IPO).
In the past, Fanatics called such a move “likely,” but no timeline has been established.
The company has also been linked to several gaming industry takeover rumors. There was speculation the company had talks with Rush Street Interactive, TwinSpires (Churchill Downs), and PointsBet.
Fanatics recently paid $500 million to acquire trading card giant Topps Sports and Entertainment. Once the deal is complete, Fanatics will be the official distributor of trading cards for Major League Baseball (MLB), the NBA, and the NFL.
According to the Wall Street Journal, before the acquisition of Topps, Fanatics Trading Cards received $350 million in funding from several investors valuing the new enterprise at $10.4 billion.