Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, a prominent minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, is selling his stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Sixers and New Jersey Devils, he announced Wednesday.
Rubin, who sources say has a 10% stake in HBSE, is selling his 11-year stake in the NBA and NHL franchises due to looming disputes over expanding his Fanatics business into sports betting and partnerships with individual players.
“As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the hurdles I must overcome to ensure our new ventures do not conflict with my responsibilities as part owner of the Sixers,” Rubin said in a statement. “…Given these realities, I will unfortunately sell my stake in the Sixers and go from co-ownership to lifelong fan.”
Fanatics is a $20 billion+ company that sells licensed professional and academic products online. The expansion into sports betting and the negotiation of individual partnership agreements with professional athletes creates numerous conflicts with the rules of collective bargaining.
Prior to the Sixers-Brooklyn Nets trade involving guard James Harden in February, Rubin caught the eye of NBA rivals due to his close relationship with Harden. Rubin can now enter into outside financial partnerships with players who were turned down because Rubin co-owned the teams, an avenue that could prove beneficial for the Sixers as they work to re-sign Harden.
“Given Michael’s tremendous success in making Fanatics a global platform across all major sports, his decision comes as no surprise,” said HBSE Founder and Managing Partner Josh Harris. in a press release. “I am very grateful for his years of partnership. His fierce passion, entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering commitment to doing the right thing has left an indelible mark on the Sixers organization.
“Michael will always be a member of our HBSE and Sixers family, will continue to be present on the field, and a key partner in our collective commitment to be a force for good in Philadelphia.”
David Blitzer, co-founder and co-manager of HBSE, said, “Michael is a visionary and innovator who has been instrumental in helping us grow and position HBSE for future success. He has been a friend and an incredible business partner for the past 11 years and his instincts, work ethic, passion and ability to bring people together has helped make him one of the most influential and successful leaders in industry.
“Michael has used these same attributes to help us evolve and grow, while becoming a positive and inspiring driver of change in our communities. As he prepares for this new chapter in his career, I’m thrilled to see Michael further revolutionize the Fanatics business, unlocking its full potential by connecting sports fans around the world through a host of new platforms and verticals.”