Fanatics taps former Opendoor executive Andrew Low Ah Kee as CEO of its sports merchandise business, Next Commerce
Fanatics has appointed Andrew Low Ah Kee as the CEO of its sports merchandise business, a significant move as the sports startup prepares for a potential IPO in the near future. The news comes just a few weeks after the outgoing CEO Doug Mack announced his retirement.
In his role as CEO of Fanatics Commerce, Low Ah Kee will oversee the company’s largest vertical, which encompasses licensed fan merchandise, jerseys, apparel, and related products. Under the leadership of Mack, the unit has brought in more than $5 billion in sales from its merchandise and e-commerce operations through sales of fan apparel, jerseys, and other sports merchandise. Doug Mack recently announced his retirement.
Low Ah Kee, who assumes his new position immediately, brings a wealth of experience in both e-commerce and publicly traded companies. His previous roles include serving as the President of the real estate marketplace Opendoor (Nasdaq: OPEN) and the Chief Operating Officer of GoDaddy. Notably, both of these companies underwent successful IPOs during his tenure.
Since its launch, Fanatics has experienced significant growth in its merchandise division, which now boasts over $5 billion in annual sales. This substantial growth has been a key contributor to the company’s overall increase in revenue and valuation. Fanatics has projected an impressive $8 billion in revenue for the current year and successfully raised $700 million in December, valuing the company at $31 billion.
Michael Rubin, who holds the positions of Chairman and CEO within Fanatics, executed a strategic restructuring of the business in 2021. This restructuring involved a focus on three core business lines: commerce, which will now be under the leadership of Andrew Low Ah Kee; betting and gaming, spearheaded by former FanDuel CEO Matt King, who joined in 2021; and collectibles, managed by former Dick Clark Productions CEO Mike Mahan, who came on board in 2022. The company has also made recent hires to oversee the Mitchell & Ness brand and its livestreaming division, both of which are considered areas of significant future growth.
“As we focus on further building our Commerce business and doubling down on creating the best overall fan experience, we were looking for a proven executive who is obsessed with creating elite customer experiences, utilizing innovation for growth, scaling companies globally, producing strong financial results, building renowned brands and establishing strong teams and internal culture,” Rubin said in a statement.
We covered Fanatics last year after the Sports platform Fanatics hit a $27 billion valuation after raising a massive $1.5B in new funding from new investors Fidelity, BlackRock, and Michael Dell’s private investment firm MSD Capital, alongside existing investors.
The recent series of executive appointments at Fanatics is a strategic step forward in aligning with Michael Rubin’s objective of eventually taking the company public. This move comes as Fanatics expands its focus beyond sports merchandise, with a notable venture into sports betting. In May, the company acquired PointsBet’s U.S. assets for approximately $150 million, signaling its growing interest in this sector.
Founded in 1995 by CEO Michael Rubin, Alan Trager, and Mitch Trager, Fanatics designs, manufactures, and distributes high-quality fan gear and jerseys across retail channels. Its sports platform currently reaches more than 900 sports properties globally. Fanatics also has a database of more than 81 million global consumers.
Rubin, who is also the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, started Fanatics in 2011. That same year, he sold a sports e-commerce business to eBay for $2.4 billion, bought back parts of it, and acquired Fanatics — which back then was a two-store retail operation.
The company is now expanding across the sports landscape and creating a next-gen digital sports platform, complete with offerings including merchandise, NFTs, sports betting and gaming, trading cards, and much more.
Fanatics now has exclusive licensing deals with the NFL, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and scores of colleges and universities to make and sell jerseys, caps, and tons of other official team merchandise.