Fintech & e-commerce IPO Retail and Direct To Consumer Venture

Sports Merchandiser Fanatics Drafts Investor Relations ‘Quarterback’ For Future IPO Play

Illustration of IPO Bubble letters.

Venture-backed sports merchandiser Fanatics drafted its own superstar this week.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based sports giant hired former Meta head of investor relations Deborah Crawford, to lead in a similar capacity for Fanatics.

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Although Fanatics Executive Vice President and CFO Glenn Schiffman said in a recent report that the move doesn’t mean the company is sprinting onto the IPO playing field any time soon, it does indicate the company’s readiness to go public eventually.

But why hire a star quarterback if you aren’t playing to win?

And Crawford is no rookie. The UCLA-alumni, who was Meta’s vice president of investor relations for more than eight years, previously served a similar stint as head of investor relations for Netflix. That’s no joke.

Fanatics financials

Fanatics has raised a total of $4.9 billion in funding over 11 rounds, according to Crunchbase data. Last year was busy for the company. In December 2022 it raised $700 million at a $31 billion valuation. Private-equity firm Clearlake Capital Group led that round. Earlier, in March 2022, it raised a $1.5 billion round and that same year acquired Topps trading cards for $500 million.

Fanatics is funded by 28 investors, according to Crunchbase data, including SoftBank Vision Fund and LionTree, among others.

It has also been fairly busy snagging up other companies, acquiring eight organizations in its history. Its most recent acquisition was Italian sports merchandiser Epi on April 5. Epi is an omnichannel licensed sports retailer that manages the official online and physical retail stores for top Italian football clubs AC Milan, Atalanta, Bologna, Fiorentina, Inter Milan and Lazio as well as the Italian Football Federation FIGC. Again, that’s no joke.

IPO summer? Not a safe bet but we’ll take it anyway

Of course everyone wants this news to mean that Fanatics will help reopen (or at least shock) the IPO pipeline into pumping again. We saw this enthusiasm earlier this week when Johnson & Johnson, which owns popular drugstore brands like Tylenol, Band-Aid and Neutrogena announced it will spin off its consumer health division, Kenvue, and launch it on the public markets after raising $3.5 billion. If that happens the company would be valued at $40 billion.

All bets aside, the only smart play at this point is to comfortably sit back and watch how these companies strategize their next moves. Pass the popcorn.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman


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