Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin says that they owe all of their success to Amazon. “I owe all of our success to Amazon because we are such a big believer in what they were doing, a completely differentiative business model,” Rubin said. “What we’re doing is really all about vertical commerce.”
Michael Rubin, CEO of Kynetic which also owns Fanatics, Rue Gilt Groupe, and ShopRunner and is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, recently discussed how his companies have become so successful in an interview with Jim Cramer of Mad Money:
What I See is How Much Opportunity There is In China
What I see as an entrepreneur is how much opportunity there is in China. When I went there it’s one of those things you had to see to believe it. We had 45 million people watch our preseason basketball game. Think about that, 45 million people watching a preseason basketball game! That’s like half of a Super Bowl rating. That’s home rabid the basketball fans are in China.
So for me, I think we have nothing but growth opportunity in China. We’re just launching Fanatics there. It’s a massive opportunity and we think we could build a multi-billion dollar business there. I couldn’t be more bullish on the opportunity.
I Owe All of Our Success to Amazon
Fanatics is a really exciting business. I’ll break this down really simply for you. I had a core belief that Amazon and Alibaba we’re going to control ecommerce everywhere in the world. So if you have that belief, you’ve got two options, completely differentiate yourself or go out of business. I’m not a guy who wants to go out of business so you’ve got to completely differentiate yourself.
People say all the time, “How do you feel about Amazon?” I owe all of our success to Amazon because we are such a big believer in what they were doing, a completely differentiative business model. What we’re doing is really all about vertical commerce. We design, develop, and sell directly to the consumer most of the products that we have, so it’s a completely different business. Think about it like an H&M or a Zara, but in the sports license business and mostly online.
Kynetic is All About Verticality
We’re designing the jersey, well actually in the case of the jersey, Nike designs the jersey, but going forward we’re actually gonna manufacture the jersey and sell directly to the consumer. But I’ll tell you, just over the Super Bowl specifically, we sold two and a half million units of Eagles merchandise. Two and a half millions units of Eagles merchandise within a few weeks after the Super Bowl and we design those products, we manufacture those products, we ship them directly to the consumer.
Because of the verticality, the consumer gets a wider assortment of merchandise, they get anything they want, they get it more quickly, and the leagues and teams make more money. We are also using that data to better communicate with the fans, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
If you really think about the sports license business and if you think about the sports leagues, what a league wants and what a team wants is to have the best marketing brand in the world. Nike is this incredible brand, but they don’t wake up every day and go to bed every night thinking about how do I maximize every sale in the licensed sports business. So what the leagues did was smart, they said let’s split this from one set of rights to two sets of rights. Let’s work with Nike to be this incredible marketing partner and then really use it to drive the Nike brand and the NFL brand. At the same time let’s work with Fanatics to drive transactions. Now you’ve got two companies instead of one really growing the business as much as possible.
We Made the Businesses What They Are Today
For us, the truth be told and people ask this all the time, “Was eBay smart for selling the businesses? First, eBay was very focused, they didn’t want to be in the owned inventory business. Number two, these were teeny companies. When I bought Fanatics back from eBay it was a 250 million dollar company. It’s going to do $2.3 billion dollars this year. It has a completely different strategy. When we bought back Rue la la from eBay it was a $200 million business, then we bought Gilt and now it’s close to a billion-dollar business. ShopRunner didn’t have $100 million in transactions and next year it’s going to do three or four billion dollars in transactions.
We took these businesses, we’ve developed the strategies, we’ve evolved them, and we’ve made them into what they are today. And Here’s the most exciting thing, we’re just getting going.
My Loyalty is All About Who Makes Us the Most Money
Other than the Sixers my loyalty is all about who makes us the most money, so I’m very easy to swap teams. If I own the Panthers I would be rooting to destroy the Eagles. I mean I love Jeffrey, he’s my buddy, but business is business and sports is sports. You’re there for one reason which is to win. I actually always laugh when people come up to me before a game and say, “Hey good luck.” I wish I could tell them good luck, but I’m like for the next three hours I hope you die. I love you before the game and I love you after the game, but there’s no love during the game.