LA-based entrepreneur Brian Lee, who previously co-founded and operated The Honest Company, ShoeDazzle.com, and LegalZoom, has launched a new sports card collecting platform. Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Backed by $9 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Defy.vc, and BAM Ventures (also co-founded by Lee), a somewhat unique to help collectors sell, store and verify sports trading cards Taking a digitally-enabled approach, this outfit launched today. .
First, it’s not (shockingly) NFT play, but we can see a future where digital trading cards are on the table, so to speak. Instead, the pair will create an online showroom where users on the platform can buy, sell, trade, and view cards while physical cards are locked in a “state-of-the-art” vault. We aim to bridge the physical and digital worlds of sports collecting. It is managed by a company called arena club.
Once verified by the Arena Club, if the collector wants to keep the card, the startup will return the card in a protective “slab”. This brings us to another side of the business. According to the company, it will provide users with a faster and more transparent certification and grading process through computer vision and machine learning. (They also brought in his AI luminaries as advisors. JiaLi is an AI Fellow at Stanford University and was previously his R&D Head at Google Cloud, Head of Research at Snap, and Visual He at Yahoo! Labs. was responsible for the computing of
According to Arena Club, for every card rated on the platform, a transparent rating report will be made available to collectors detailing the justification for the rating.
Read our Sports Collectors Daily article on how the Arena Club makes money. Note There are some cards in the new outfit (sorry). There is a $25 fee to rate, store, list and sell cards on the site, and a $35 fee to rate and return cards. Additionally, Arena Club plans to charge the seller his 5% commission based on the cash value of each transaction.
Lee and Jeter are chasing a large and growing market that has run amok during the pandemic, when people are confined to their homes and trying to spend some of the money accumulated in their bank accounts. As underlined, Topps, the most iconic card maker, was acquired by licensed sports apparel and merchandise giant Fanatics for $500 million in January. (Topps actually planned to go public last year through a blank check company, but the deal fell apart Shortly after the Tops lost their 70-year MLB trading card deal to Fanatics.)
The growing excitement around sports cards can be traced by looking at Jeter’s own cards, which are making more and more money. In 2018, Derek’s Jeter rookie card was $99,100 — The highest amount ever paid for a modern baseball card at the time. In 2020, another rookie card of his set another record, $180,000Last year also reportedly broke records when a Derek Jeter rookie card in mint condition sold for an astonishingly high price. $690,000.
With so much sports card trading, the space is crowded and the situation can be challenging for Arena Club, as is the fact that the prices of some cards are dropping. (according to report Last month, The Athletic found that the high-end collections in particular remained strong, while other segments struggled. )
While Lee is well-known among investors and founders, Jeter’s name is growing outside the ballpark. In 2014, the year he quit cleats, he co-founded his The Players Tribune, an athlete-driven website. got By Minute Media in 2019. lead as CEO Until February. Jeter has also made numerous startup investments since retiring from baseball, including investments in video conferencing company Blue His Gene His Networks.
However, I have not yet used either account to promote Arena Club. Technology investors and founders will know he’s crossed the Rubicon when he’s crossed the Rubicon.