Candy Digital, a sports and entertainment NFT startup, laid off a large part of its staff today. The layoffs were confirmed by a source close to the situation. More than one-third of Candy’s approximately 100-person team was laid off. The layoffs were first reported by Sportico. One former employee, Community Content Manager Matthew Muntner, tweeted that he was included in the departures.
Candy Digital was founded in June 2021. The company was founded by Michael Rubin, executive chairman of sports merchandise giant Fanatics, along with Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Mike Novogratz and entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk. Fanatics was described as the majority owner at the time and said that it would tap its existing customer base to promote Candy.
In October 2021, Candy Digital announced that it had raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation, in a Series A round led by Insight Partners and Softbank’s Vision Fund 2. A Fanatics representative declined comment to Decrypt, noting that Candy Digital is run independently and that the sports merchandise firm isn’t involved in Candy’s day-to-day operations. Candy launched with the official Major League Baseball license. The company has sold a number of collections based on the MLB and its teams. Since launching, Candy Digital has rolled out other sports licenses, including a partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), all of NASCAR’s teams (but not the league itself), and a number of college athletes.