What a difference a few months makes.
Not long ago, it seemed like Topps, a mainstay in the sports collectible business, was poised to lead Major League Baseball into the world of NFTs.
They released their first series of MLB NFT collectibles this spring, selling out quickly following the rabid success of Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot. Amid the frenzy, Topps was preparing to go public.
The tide turned quickly, however.
Topps’ drops and marketplace were marred by technical issues. Users questioned the decision to host the NFTs on blockchains like WAX and later, Avalanche. And Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou called their product “bad for NFTs.”
Then Michael Rubin entered the chat.
The CEO of Fanatics had similar plans and managed to secure the licensing deal Topps had held with MLB for more than 70 years. He formed CANDY Digital with Galaxy Digital Holdings CEO Mike Novogratz and serial entrepreneur Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuk.
This week, Candy announced it had raised a $100 million Series A at a $1.5 billion valuation. In its first drop, held Tuesday, CANDY sold 25,000 packs of baseball video highlights for $1.25 million.
Meanwhile, trading on Topps NFTs totaled a little more than $10,000, according to CryptoSlam.io.
Candy’s funding round was led by venture capital firms insight Partners and Softbank Vision Fund 2, and included participation from Connect Ventures, Creative Artist Agency and New Enterprise Associates.
“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, CEO of Candy Digital, in a statement. “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 project, like any launching right now, faces some strong headwinds. Primary sales on NFTs are down more than 50 percent in October, according to NFT data aggregation site NonFungible.com.
But the success of Candy’s first drop is a major blow to Topps. Topps recently lost their MLB license to Fanatics, whose CEO, Michael Rubin, helped found Candy.
Disclosure: Stephen Stirling is a senior reporter for the Street Crypto. He is an NFT artist that uses the platform OpenSea, and holds NFTS from NBA TopShot, Zed.Run, Robotos and Superlative Secret Society currently valued at more than $500 USD.