From Topps to Bottom: Baseball Card Maker Goes Public as NFT Craze Stalls

Topps — best known for its baseball cards and Bazooka Joe gum — on Tuesday became the latest company to go public through an SPAC merger, with a $1.3 billion valuation.

And you could say it’s trending twice, because Topps is also one of the latest to venture into the boom in non-fungible tokens (NFTs). But the blockchain-based digital collectibles are looking less like a home run these days, plunging 70% in value from their February peak.

Swinging for the Digital Fences

Everyone from Taco Bell to Atari has jumped on the NFT bandwagon, and Topps’ chairman, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, has made the shift to digital his company’s biggest priority:

  • Topps has launched multiple online apps where people can trade collectibles. And its “Topps Now” line — which sells cards of sports and pop culture moments for just 24 hours each — has been a hit: it sold 100,000 cards of the Bernie Sanders mittens meme earlier this year.
  • “With blockchain we’re going to be able to participate in the secondary market,” Eisner told CNBC, of its adoption of NFTs. “Before we only participated when we put the analog cards out.”

With the digital wind in its sails, Topps’ net sales climbed 23% for a best-ever haul of $567 million last year.

NFTs Trending Downward: NFTs were the shiny new toy earlier this year, but they’re now trading at $1,256 on average, way down from above $4,000 in late February. Topps’ SPAC sponsor, however, said not to worry because it’s the core business that caught their eye.

“We really underwrote the investment just on the existing business,” said Jason Mudrick, whose Mudrick Capital is also leading a $250 million round. “That’s what’s so attractive about the opportunity, that you really get the upside of the NFTs for free.”

the takeaway

The Daily Upside is not yet available as an NFT, but if you’d like to today’s issue for $560,000 in cryptocurrency one can be drawn up.

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