Fanatics closes a $1 billion investment round led by Softbank

Fanatics, the sports e-commerce company that helps leagues and teams sell their licensed apparel and fan gear directly to customers, has finalized a $1 billion capital raising round led by Softbank Group’s Vision Fund. Besides Softbank, National Football League and Major League Baseball participated in the round valuing the startup at $4.5 billion. The firm had last raised ~$600 million from investors including Insight Venture Partners and Silverlake Partners.

Michael Rubin, CEO of Fanatics, commented that “They were looking for a really disruptive company. They’d made a lot of money on Alibaba and were looking for what’s next in e-commerce, and that made for a really easy deal”. He further added that “SoftBank wasn’t easy from a valuation perspective. We had even bigger expectations. But we knew they’d be the right partner for us, because if they think it’s strategic and it’s going to be huge, they’re going to figure out a way to get the deal done”. The ecommerce startup expects to generate $2.2 billion in revenue this year by selling, and sometimes even manufacturing, team jerseys and other products. It has also acquired a manufacturing operation called Majestic sportswear, which has for years been making Major League Baseball-licensed on-field uniforms and other apparel.