Fanatics Taps Former Snapchat, Google Exec Nick Bell to Launch Livestream Shopping Division

Fanatics said on Thursday that it’s launching a new livestream shopping platform and has hired former Snapchat executive Nick Bell to lead the division.

Bell, who previously led teams responsible for Google Search Experience and served as VP and global head of content and partnerships at Snap, Inc., will serve as the new CEO of the Fanatics Live business division that will now focus on live content-based commerce. He will report to Fanatics Collectibles CEO Mike Mahan.

Fanatics said in a release that Bell and his team will primarily work alongside brand partners in the collectibles space, including leagues, players associations and other properties, to “deepen collaboration” and “deliver highly curated, engaging content” and “personality-driven entertainment” to fans tied to livestream shopping.

The company added that Fanatics Live will be a separate entity within the Fanatics portfolio, and will primarily serve the Collectibles business. There may be future opportunities for Fanatics Live to expand into other parts of the Fanatics ecosystem, though the focus in the near term is for Collectibles, it added.

One of the areas Fanatics Live will explore is “breaking” — a form of social buying where individuals purchase “spots” from the seller who is opening an entire case of trading cards live online.

Fanatics added that “breaking” has become a critical part of the trading card industry that has enabled new business opportunities for entrepreneurs, allowing creators to build their own platforms and communities; given collectors more access to product; and encouraged social engagement and connectivity within the hobby.

According to company, Fanatics Live will take an app-first approach with a coinciding website, with plans to launch in the second half of 2023.

This news comes just over one month after Fanatics scored another major investment in December that brings its current valuation to $31 billion.

The sports merchandising company raised about $700 million in a recent funding round led by new investor Clearlake Capital. LionTree as well as existing investors Silver Lake, Fidelity and Softbank also participated in the round.

The investment closed out a busy 2022 for the e-commerce site. Fanatics in February, along with other investors, acquired lifestyle brand and jersey maker Mitchell & Ness from Juggernaut Capital Partners. Fanatics also acquired trading cards business Topps in January for $500 million.

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