Candy Digital, the digital collectibles start-up backed by Michael Rubin, the executive chairman of sportswear and merchandise retailer Fanatics, has secured an investment of $100 million in a Series A funding round which values the company at $1.5 billion in total.
The capital, Candy (which is majority-owned by Fanatics) has said, will be used to “fund Candy’s continued expansion of its non-fungible token (NFT) offerings across the global sports landscape for both current and emerging partners.”
The funding round for the NFT firm was led by the Insight Partners and Softbank Vision Fund 2 venture capital firms, while additional participants included Connect Ventures, Creative Artists Agency and New Enterprise Associates. Connect Ventures is a fund that features participation from prominent retired basketball, baseball and ice-hockey stars.
Candy has said it plans to use the funds to accelerate the growth of its global team, develop and manage new sporting relationships and scale up to the company’s recruiting and marketing divisions.
The firm is backed by Fanatics, as well as by Mike Novogratz, founder and chief executive of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, and Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and investor with an interest in the sector.
Candy is utilising Fanatics’ customer base, which amounts to over 80 million, and Galaxy Digital’s knowledge of the digital asset, cryptocurrency, and blockchain space, while Vaynerchuk is lending his digital and collectibles experience to the company.
The company’s current partners include baseball’s MLB, and the MLB’s Players Association (both of those struck long-term arrangements with Candy in June), as well as stock car racing’s Race Team Alliance.
Scott Lawin, chief executive of Candy Digital, has said: “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.”
Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners, added: “We’re excited to partner with Candy Digital as they build fan engagement experiences for the digital age … The company is led by an experienced founding team across the sports and entertainment industries and has won early partnerships such as with MLB.”
Later in October, Candy is unveiling its Beta platform, giving fans and consumers an initial opportunity to direct trade and buy the company’s NFT products.
This will coincide with the launch of three new products focused on the upcoming MLB playoffs.