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Fanatics Hires Tucker Kain, Dodgers Exec, To Explore New Verticals –

Tucker Kain, president of business enterprise for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is leaving the MLB team to join the executive ranks at ecommerce giant Fanatics, according to multiple people familiar with the plans.

Kain will be tasked with helping the company expand beyond merchandise, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the move hasn’t been announced. He’ll be just the second direct report to Fanatics chairman Michael Rubin, joining CEO Doug Mack.

A representative for Fanatics confirmed Kain’s hiring but declined to comment beyond that. Kain declined to comment, and a spokesman for the Dodgers didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The hire heralds a new phase for Fanatics, which has grown over the past decade into the world’s largest seller of licensed sports goods. The company has pre-existing business relationships with most major U.S. leagues and teams, not to mention a database of 80 million sports fans. Now it’s exploring ways to leverage those industry ties, its user base and its data in new ways.

The first step in that expansion was announced last month—a new NFT company called Candy Digital, which Fanatics launched alongside Michael Novogratz and Gary Vaynerchuk. Though the company hasn’t detailed other new areas, it’s possible they could include ticketing and/or sports betting.

Kain joined the Dodgers as chief financial officer in 2012, shortly after a group led by Guggenheim Partners bought the team for $2.15 billion (a deal Kain helped negotiate). He has been responsible for growing the team’s vast off-field business enterprise, including its tech initiatives, data innovation and media deals.

Kain also spearheaded the creation of Elysian Park Ventures, an investment vehicle launched by the Dodgers in 2014. Elysian Park’s investments include DraftKings, SeatGeek, Synergy Sports, Second Spectrum, Rawlings and the Professional Fighters League. (Kain will be stepping down as managing partner of Elysian Park, according to one of the people.)

Prior to joining the Dodgers, Kain was a vice president at Guggenheim, working in the firm’s corporate credit group.

Fanatics was recently valued at $12.8 billion in a new round of funding driven by prior investors, including Silver Lake, Major League Baseball and Blackstone. The next step is expected to be an IPO, though it is unclear when (or if) that will ultimately happen.

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