Funding round values NFT platform Candy Digital at $1.5bn
14:48, 21 October 2021
Candy Digital, the non-fungible token (NFT) ecosystem owned by online sports products retailer Fanatics, raised $100m (£72.39m), the company announced Thursday, giving it a $1.5bn valuation.
“Candy is focused on being the trusted, institutional-grade provider of authentic licensed products in the NFT space… and develop(ing) unique digital assets which bring fans and collectors closer to the sports and players they love,” said Candy Digital CEO Scott Lawin. “Blockchain and NFTs provide tremendous opportunities to enhance the fan experience by allowing people to own a piece of their passion.”
Peyton Manning an investor
Investors in the Series A financing round, led by Insight Partners and Softbank Vision Fund 2, included talent agency Creative Artists Agency, Athletes Syndicate – consisting of current and retired athletes, including retired Hall of Fame National Football League (NFL) quarterback Peyton Manning – as well as traditional venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and Will Ventures.
Proceeds will be used to accelerate growth and build content and technology, the company said in a press release. Candy Digital is launching a Beta version of its platform this month and will be offering three new NFTs in conjunction with the US Major League Baseball (MLB) Playoffs and upcoming World Series. Additionally, Candy Digital has licencing agreements with collegiate players – and Heisman Trophy candidates – JT Daniels of the University of Georgia, Desmond Ridder of the University of Cincinnati, Sam Howell of the University of North Carolina and DJ Uiagalelei of Clemson University.
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“Candy Digital, which is building Major League Baseball’s official NFT ecosystem and was started by Michael Rubin/Fanatics and others, has raised $100m at $1.5bn valuation,” tweeted ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter. “Its investors include, amongst others, Peyton Manning.”
Candy Digital, the officially licenced MLB NFT ecosystem, was founded earlier this year by athletic apparel retailer Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, digital asset manager Galaxy Digital founder Mike Novogratz and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.
Candy Digital NFTs are sold and traded on the Ethereum blockchain.
Demand for Ether has driven NFT trading volume to record highs throughout the third quarter of 2021, digital asset manager 21Shares said in its quarterly review. Ether demand has “resulted in NFT marketplaces experiencing enormous month-over-month growth in trading volume, increasing by more than 900% from July to August to reach an all-time high of over $3bn alone in August from slightly over $300m in July.”
“[T]his is great news for the whole crypto industry and DeFi (decentralised finance) infrastructure,” 21Shares said. “This will improve user experience by orders of magnitude and unlock the next generation of internet services that are already budding DeFi and NFTs.”
“The company’s partnership with MLB and MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) is a strong indication that fans and collectors want to engage with their favourite sports, music, and art in new ways,” added Softbank partner Lydia Jett.
“Fans crave new methods of engaging with their favourite athletes and teams, and Candy Digital is primed to power the next generation of sports fandom,” said Deven Parekh, Managing Director at Insight Partners.
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