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Candy Digital and Palm NFT Studio have merged in a combination of leading licensed digital collectible providers in sports and entertainment, the companies announced today.
The firm will continue under the Candy Digital name. Candy’s incumbent CEO Scott Lawin will remain in the same role, while Palm NFT Studio co-founder and CEO Daniel Heyman will serve as president of the combined company. The merger has been completed, a Candy representative said.
Candy Digital confirmed to Decrypt that it laid off employees as part of the process. A source with knowledge of the events told Decrypt that about 30 employees were let go, but a Candy spokesperson declined to specify the number of people affected.
#CandyDigital was founded to reimagine fandom: to empower communities through digital ownership, to transform the way we connect across sports, entertainment, and art.
Today, we’re excited to announce our merger with @PalmNft to expand this vision.
— Candy (@CandyDigital) June 29, 2023
“As part of the integration process, it is not uncommon for redundancies to arise, leading to necessary workforce adjustments,” a Candy spokesperson exclusively told Decrypt. “We can confirm that the layoffs you mentioned were a result of the merger. Our priority during this transition is to streamline operations and ensure long-term growth and sustainability.”
The spokesperson further added that Palm NFT Studio also had layoffs earlier in June as part of the merger process, but did not specify how many people were affected. Candy declined to provide a current headcount for the combined company.
Candy Digital has partnerships to create licensed digital collectibles for Major League Baseball, NASCAR, WWE, Getty Images, and Netflix, while Palm NFT Studio’s clients have included Warner Bros., DC Comics, and Universal Music Group. Microsoft and Warner Bros. were investors in Palm’s $27 million Series B raised in December 2021.
More than two million NFTs have been minted via Candy Digital’s platform since sports licensing giant Fanatics co-founded the company in 2021. The startup raised $100 million that same year and was valued at $1.5 billion. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk was a founding board member, alongside Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz.
Fanatics sold its 60% stake in Candy Digital this January to a group of investors led by Galaxy Digital amid “an imploding NFT market,” as described by Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. In November 2021, Candy Digital laid off more than one-third of its approximately 100-person team amid declining demand for NFT collectibles.
Candy Digital’s NFTs have been and will continue to be minted via the Palm blockchain, an Ethereum sidechain that Palm NFT Studio also uses for its brand and artist partners.
A company press release called this merger a “natural evolution” for both firms as they plan to scale and launch further products across digital collectibles and loyalty programs.
“Together, we’ll accelerate our mission of defining a new category of brand experience that focuses on co-creation, rewarding loyalty, and connecting communities,” Lawin said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Andrew Hayward.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include further details about the merger. A Candy Digital spokesperson also clarified that they did not intend to confirm the number of employees affected by the layoffs, as tipped to Decrypt by a source familiar with the details, and that it would not specify how many people were laid off.