Fanatics Buys PWCC in Apparent Bid To Support Its Own Upcoming Auction Platform
Less than a month ago, news filtered out that Oregon-based PWCC Marketplace cut its workforce by 25% in a so-called organizational revamp.
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Now Fanatics, confirmed that it purchased PWCC in what appears to be another building block of its forthcoming Fanatics Live auction platform, expected to launch with trading cards in the second half of 2023.
“PWCC has built a strong business with incredible technology and a leading marketplace and vault,” a source from Fanatics told ESPN. “We see a huge opportunity to bring the PWCC platform into the Fanatics Collectibles family and further build and strengthen the foundation that currently exists.”
Fanatics has been actively engaging in a series of acquisitions, which include the purchase of Topps’ trading card and collectibles division, as well as striking significant deals with three prominent American sports leagues.
In addition, Fanatics also entered the sports betting market when it acquired the U.S. operations of PointsBet earlier this month, in a bid to compete with FanDuel, BetMGM, and DraftKings.
Fanatics, who is said to be the largest sports apparel and collectibles company, keeps expanding its business to enter categories where it can bring its premium brand name to attract new customers.
PWCC Brings Value to Fanatics
In PWCC, Fanatics apparently saw an opportunity to pick up a brand who faced challenges over the past couple of years but maintained a significant base of about 300,000 users and a valuable vault for high-end trading cards in Oregon.
PWCC was forced to concentrate on building its own auction business in 2021 after a shill bidding allegation kicked the company off the eBay platform, believed to be a significant source of its revenue.
Furthermore, collectors who entrusted their cards to its secure PWCC vault in Oregon, and used them as collateral to acquire additional cards, experienced the impact of a softening market, leading to loan defaults.
While a report suggests that the company had a deal for $175 million from Whitehawk Capital Partners to finance its loan program, the deal apparently fell through due to a violation in the terms of the agreement.
It all appears that PWCC may have all the right pieces in place, but lacked funding to fuel its growth. Similar to Fanatics acquisition of PointsBet, which is one of the smallest players in the sports betting business and lacked marketing funding for growth, PWCC seems to have been in a similar situation.
And as such, the acquisition by Fanatics offers PWCC an opportunity to gain access to resources it could not muster by itself. As of right now, it’s believed that PWCC will continue to operate as an independent business.
But with the upcoming launch of the Fanatics Live online selling auction platform later this year, PWCC is expected to play a significant role in this project, potentially resulting in the eventual elimination of the PWCC brand altogether.
The trading card auction business is getting more crowded and Fanatics is a big player with plenty of resources that can affect the business of eBay, Goldin, and new upstarts like Alt and Whatnot.
Is there room for that many marketplaces in the collectibles world?
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. All current PWCC employees are expected to stay with the company for now.
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Richard is co-founder of eSeller365. He has over 17 years of experience on eBay which includes tens of thousands of sales to buyers in over 100 countries and even has experience with eBay’s VeRO program enforcing intellectual property rights for a former employer. And for about two years Richard sold products on Amazon using Amazon FBA in the US.
To “relax” from the daily business grind, for a few weekends a year, he also works for IMSA as a professional race official.