The creation myth of online auction site EBay has long been that the company was founded as a way to make it easier to find and collect Pez dispensers.
The story may have been debunked long ago, but the myth lives on.
Whether true or not, though, collectibles are a key opportunity for the the company.
And eBay has now completed an important deal to help it serve a key market in the sector.
Collectible Cards Have a Long History
Collectible sports cards date back to the 1860s with personalities from organized baseball leagues appearing on cards that were included in such products as cigarette packs and later in the 20th century in packages of dog food, on cereal boxes and in bubble gum packs.
Some of these cards have proven to be quite valuable over the years, with some fetching some significant dollars. A 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card that was included Piedmont cigarette packs was sold in the mid 1970s for $10,000, which was the highest price for a baseball card at that time.
That card is still the most valuable card around, as in 2021 it sold at auction for $6.6 million. Sports trading card collecting has expanded over the years to include a number card companies, such as Topps, Fleer, Bowman, Upper Deck and Donruss.
The industry also expanded from offering just baseball cards to include football, basketball, hockey and a number of other entertainment genres.
Card collecting expanded even further in the 1990s as Pokemon trading card game was released in 1996 and the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game began selling in 1999. Possibly the most valuable Pokemon card is the Pikachu Illustrator, which sold at auction in July 2021 for $5.275 million.
EBay Buys TCGplayer
EBay said on Oct. 31 that it had completed its $295 million acquisition of TCGplayer, a marketplace for collectible card game enthusiasts.
"By joining forces with TCGplayer, eBay has even more ways to connect brick-and-mortar hobbyists and sellers with passionate collectors around the world," said Dawn Block, VP of Collectibles at eBay, in a statement.
The acquisition first announced in August, will see TCGplayer continue to operate as a separate entity, according to the statement.
TCGplayer employs more than 600 people. The company serves hobbyist buyers, and both online sellers and brick-and-mortar retailers through the TCGplayer Marketplace and its Authentication Center.
Popular card series traded on the site include Magic The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon and Digimon. It also serves as a marketplace for DC and Marvel comics.
The global trading game card market amounted to $20.1 billion in 2021, according to Market Statsville. The market is forecast to reach $131.8 billion by 2030.
Evercore acted as exclusive financial adviser to TCGplayer in the transaction, according to an earlier statement announcing the deal. Cooley LLP acted as legal counsel. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP acted as legal counsel to eBay.