A card grading company has been valued at around $500 million (£362 million) after Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering card collecting experienced record amounts of interest over the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The Certified Collectibles Group has had the majority of its shares purchased by the Blackstone Group Inc, a company that usually deals in real estate, after being overwhelmed by grading opportunities from customers. (Thanks, Vice.) The purchase has caused CCG’s overall worth to be valued at more than $500 million, with other investors including Roc Nation - a company owned by hip-hop artist Jay Z.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CCG has experienced a surge in customers sending the company their various Pokémon cards and Magic: The Gathering cards to be graded. According to CEO Max Spiegel, the business has been struggling to keep on top of the customer demand for grading card collectibles.
“Since November, each month has been a record in terms of submissions,” Spiegel previously told Motherboard. “We’ve received more than 1 million Pokémon cards alone, which to me is a mind boggling number.””
Other grading companies, such as PSA, have also been experiencing an influx of Pokémon and Magic cards over the current pandemic, with one PSA executive commenting on the “avalanche of cardboard” the business had been working through. CCG’s Spiegel admitted that despite the company’s recent acquisition and plans for growth, customers should still expect to experience a wait for their cards to be graded: “The industry has never faced a situation like this [...] this is really off the charts in terms of demand [...] unfortunately, there’s going to be a period of slower turnaround times.”
Several extremely rare Pokémon cards and booster packs have been auctioned off over the last year, including multiple gem mint holographic Charizards - with the most recent going at a final bid of $135,300,00 (£98,000) - a 1999 Pokémon Unlimited Base Set Booster Box that was valued between $20,000 (£14,000) and $25,000 (£17,00) and a Shadowless version of the 1999 Charizard being purchased by the rapper Logic for £169,000 ($233,000).
Pokémon card collection has become so popular that in May of this year Target refused to sell trading cards in its stores across the US due to violent customer behaviour. The surge in recent customer interest is due to a mixture of scalpers buying up stock, YouTube channels releasing unboxing videos and the current shipping issues faced by retail companies like Target.
According to Vice, CCG has apparently been “hiring for virtually every position in the company” in order to keep up with the current customer demand.