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Fanatics’ Candy Digital NFT venture hits US$1.5bn valuation after new investment

Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning participates in US$100m Series A funding round.

22 October 2021 Steve McCaskill
Fanatics’ Candy Digital NFT venture hits US$1.5bn valuation after new investment

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  • Fanatics is Candy Digital’s majority owner
  • Biggest partner is MLB, with NFT marketplace set to launch later this month
  • Funds will be used to grow creative, technological and marketing capabilities

Candy Digital, the sports non-fungible token (NFT) venture backed by Fanatics, has raised an additional US$100 million in funding, valuing the company at US$1.5 billion.

The Series A funding round was led by Insight Partners and Softbank Vision Found 2 and included former National Football League (NFL) quarterback Peyton Manning.

The company says the investment will allow it to build out its creative content, technology, and product capabilities and secure more of a rapidly growing market. Specifically, it plans to target new partners, expand its customer service, marketing, and engineering teams.

Candy Digital’s major partnership is with Major League Baseball (MLB), with the first fruits of that partnership released in July.

Since then, the focus has been on creating a marketplace for fans to buy, sell and trade NFTs and a launch is set for later this month to coincide with the MLB playoffs and World Series. Candy Digital also has agreements with some college football players.

Other North American sports leagues have made moves into the market, hoping to emulate the success of NBA Top Shot.

“Candy is focused on being the trusted, institutional-grade provider of authentic licensed products in the NFT space, and we are excited to continue to grow our business and develop unique digital assets which bring fans and collectors closer to the sports and players they love,” said Scott Lawin, Candy Digital chief executive.

“Blockchain and NFTs provide tremendous opportunities to enhance the fan experience by allowing people to own a piece of their passion. We’re thrilled to continue partnering with the leading sports leagues around the world to engage fans through the next generation of sports collectibles as we create the future of fandom together.”

The company was founded earlier this year with Fanatics as its majority owner. Fanatics chief executive Michael Rubin has previously expressed his desire to diversify away from merchandise into other areas, including betting, gaming, and digital products such as NFTs.

Candy Digital’s other founders include Mike Novogratz, the founder and chief executive of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, as well as entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk.

Fanatics itself has a valuation of US$18 billion, while its separate trading card business is worth US$10.4 billion. It has recently been linked with a bookmaker acquisition and is understood to have held talks about an unlikely move into regional sports networks (RSNs) in the US.

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