The iconic sports trading card company is taking the hobby and turning pro.
The biggest name in the sports trading card industry is going public. The New York Times’ DealBook was first to report Tuesday that Topps, with an estimated valuation now pegged at $1.3 billion, will merge with a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) supervised by Murdick Capital in advance of an IPO.
Murdick will invest $250 million as part of the deal.
Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner acquired Topps back in 2007 for $385 million. Eisner clearly understood the value and emotional reach of sports across generations, having negotiated Disney’s purchase of ESPN during his time at the company. “Everybody has a story about Topps,” he said.”
He’ll reportedly roll his full equity stake into the newly-formed entity.
Eisner’s gamble on the emotional connection that collectors have to trading cards paid off handsomely, especially in the last year. In 2020, Topps smashed company records by nearly 125%, netting $567 million.
Topps insiders are quick to point out that the market for trading cards had been trending positive far before the COVID-19 pandemic began, a sign that the industry’s exciting momentum isn’t a bubble that’s due to burst. Today’s IPO news gives that idea a huge vote of confidence.
In recent years, Topps has expanded its business to keep up with the hobby. They have developed virtual offerings that allow fans to trade digital-only collectibles and play online games. More recently, they have embraced crypto technology and begun to develop NFTs.
When discussing the plans to go public, Jason Murdick was quick to note that the future of the organization was not being projected on NFTs alone. Physical cards will always be a part of this iconic brand, and it’s on the strength of this combined approach that Topps sees excitement on the horizon as a publicly traded company.