Fantex, an app which allows celebrities and athletes to file for initial public offerings, released a beta version earlier this week, followed by a prompt retraction from the App Store, according to TechCrunch.
The hush-hush attitudes of the founders — Valley veterans David Bierne, Buck French and David Mullin — may be because the company is still hammering out regulatory details with the SEC, although Fantex was granted a notice of effectiveness earlier this summer, meaning it is effectively registered and allowed to sell shares to the public.
I’m usually bullish on any company that makes investing more accessible, and Fantex is possibly the coolest, simplest concept I’ve seen so far: consumers invest real money in the “brands” of professional athletes and celebrities, and the “stocks” themselves can receive money when they register for an IPO with Fantex.
With this context in mind, you’d expect blue-chip stocks to include the likes of Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake; Miley Cyrus would be a high-risk, high-reward investment; and if you were to have invested in Amanda Bynes at any point in the past five years, you’d be in the bread line by now.
The TechCrunch article points out only one sports agent — Dave Butz, speaking for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore — responded to a request for interview, and Butz indicated he had never heard of the site. You’d think Fantex would’ve generated some buzz in the talent management community if it was truly capable of generating value for athletes, or entertainers.
Questionable marketing aside, a quick look at the company’s advisors gives more reason to be optimistic: Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and former New Jersey Nets star Kerry Kittles are both on board.
Similar “concept-based” investing startups have emerged over the past year, some more promising than others: TastemakerX raised $1.25 million in March to evolve into a sort of fantasy sports league for music-buffs. Upstart raised $5.9 million in April to let investors back the careers — and become the student loan salvation — for young professionals, in exchange for a portion of the young professional’s income.
My personal favorite, though, is still Motif, which raised $25 million from Goldman Sachs earlier this year to expand its platform for bundled-stock investing, allowing consumers to invest in ideas like “Fighting Fat,” “Rebuilding After Sandy” and “Content Is King.”