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Fanatics, the Online Sports Retailer, Gets Executive-Level Overhaul

"Data, data, data will be the heartbeat," CEO Doug Mack said.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

New Fanatics CEO Doug Mack has passed the 100-day mark on the job, and he’s now ready to put his stamp on the online sports retailer with key new hires and a realignment of company priorities.

As part of a series of moves announced at a company town hall meeting today, Fanatics has hired a new chief technology officer in Matt Madrigal, who was most recently the senior vice president of technology and marketing at Williams-Sonoma. The company has also hired Amazon veteran Lonnie Phillips as vice president of operations to help oversee the company’s fulfillment centers.

With the moves, current technology head Kevin Bates will slide over into a general manager role on the business side of the company while current COO Brent Trager has decided to leave the company. Fanatics president Jamie Davis has also chosen to depart.

The new hires come as Mack, the former CEO of One Kings Lane, sets out to build brand awareness and technology prowess at Fanatics, which was profitable in 2013 on revenue of around $1 billion, but which is still far from a household name.

“Part of how to go from a billion-dollar business to a multi-billion-dollar business is bringing in real subject- matter [expert] execs,” Mack said in an interview.

Fanatics, which is privately held and counts Alibaba Group as an investor, sells licensed sports apparel on its own websites, including, which accounts for about a third of the company’s sales, Davis said last year. The other two thirds of revenue is generated by Fanatics powering online stores for the four major U.S. sports leagues as well as the digital team shops for more than 150 professional and collegiate teams.

But Mack believes the company has plenty of room for improvement, from how it uses data to attract new customers, market its own properties and promote its partners’ online shops, to how efficiently its warehouses operate during peak seasons.

“Data, data, data will be the heartbeat,” Mack said. “The site experience will be informed by the data. The mobile apps will be informed by data.”

As such, Fanatics plans to dramatically expand its technology staff, most notably in its small San Francisco office. The company also plans to invest aggressively in marketing under new CMO Chris Orton, the former COO of Orbitz who joined Fanatics in June.

Now, with the other new additions, Mack feels he has the senior team in place to accelerate growth at an online retailer that already sports a strong foundation.

“Even though we are at scale now, at other levels it feels like we’ve only just begun,” he said. “Over the next five to 10 years, we have the chance to build a really special company.”

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