Sports collecting’s explosive growth is now attracting some major financial players.
The Chernin Group, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, is pouring $40 million into Goldin Auctions, with plans to invest in technology, operations and audience development as it looks to grow the company.
Among the additional investors are Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and his agent Rich Kleiman, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, YouTube star Logan Paul and longtime sports media personality Bill Simmons, who has long been a collector.
Ross Hoffman, who has held senior positions at Twitter, Google and Headspace, is also joining Goldin Auctions as its new CEO. According to a news release, Hoffman “will oversee the development of new products and experiences that will redefine the collectibles industry.” Hoffman will now run the day-to-day operations of the business alongside founder Ken Goldin, who is moving into the new position of Chairman and Founder.
“The collectibles industry has come a long way over the last 40 years and its popularity today is the result of enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable collectors,” said Goldin. “With the help and expertise of our new partners, we plan to always prioritize our consignors and buyers by providing them the safest and easiest way to trade these amazing and valuable assets. As a result, we’re confident that we’ll help oversee the continued growth and expansion of the industry as a whole.”
“Ken and his team have built an incredible business and he is an icon in the hobby,” said Hoffman. “At the core, what they have built is trust: sellers trust us that they will get the right price and buyers trust us that they will get authentic merchandise. We authenticate everything we sell and we verify every bidder’s ability to purchase. The collectibles industry has one of the world’s most engaged and rapidly growing audiences. By building upon the trusted marketplace Goldin is known for with new technology, operations and content, we aim to make things easier, safer and faster for everyone in the hobby, old and new.”
Goldin has been predicting that the market for sports cards would continue to grow as he saw expanding interest not only from buyers around the world but from the financial sector, athletes and celebrities. “We have something the hobby has never had before,” Goldin told Bloomberg News. “All of a sudden, we’re cool. We’re part of pop culture.”
The Chernin Group’s Co-founder and Partner, Jacobs says Goldin Auctions came onto the group’s radar after noticing “the explosive interest in the collectibles industry.”
“At TCG, we focus on identifying high-growth sectors and then investing in the best businesses that we believe will define the category,” he stated. “We are investing in Ken’s vision, credibility and experience as well as Ross’s leadership. We are thrilled to be on team Goldin as it continues to give back to the community and provide more great resources, content, cards and memorabilia for its collectors.”
TCG’s current investments have included companies that have emerged in recent years and attracted a wide audience including Barstool Sports, The Action Network, Hodinkee, Exploding Kittens, Food52, Scopely, Headspace, Surfline and Cameo.
In addition to Durant, Kleiman, Cuban, Simmons, Paul and Hurley, other individuals and firms that have joined the funding round are Adam Bain and Dick Costolo from 01 Advisors; Rich Greenfield from LightShed Ventures; Craft Ventures Co-Founder Bill Lee; musician and record producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley; Christian Oestlien, VP Product at YouTube; Anthony Pompliano of Pomp Investments; Shiva Rajaraman, former CTO of WeWork and product management head at YouTube and Spotify; Zillow and Hotwire Co-Founder Spencer Rascoff and actor Mark Wahlberg, also an avid collector.
Ken Goldin founded Goldin Auctions in 2012 and built the company from a start-up grossing $800,000 in its first year to over $100 million in 2020. To date, Goldin Auctions has overseen more than $300 million in sales. Last month, the company shattered the industry record for the largest sports collectibles auction ever, completing $33 million in sales for over 1,000 items.
Prior to joining Goldin Auctions, Hoffman served for seven years as Vice President of Partnerships at Twitter, where he led the company’s Global Content Partnerships & Brand Strategy team and helped drive $750 million of revenue annually. Before that, he held the title of Business Development & Strategic Partnership Manager at Google.