Fantex pulls IPO for Arian Foster. What's next?

Arian Foster, Houston Texan
Wesley Hitt | Getty Images
Arian Foster, Houston Texan

Fantex burst onto the scene in 2013 with its offer to the public to buy 20 percent of Arian Foster's future earnings.

It would cost a whopping $10 million — putting the career valuation of the Houston Texans running back at $50 million.

But Foster ended up producing more injuries than touchdowns, and the player and company terminated their relationship this month after delaying his IPO for more than two years.

One of the confusing parts of this is story is that other outlets initially made it seem that the company was pulling the IPO on itself, but that's not true. A Fantex spokesperson tells CNBC that the only IPO being pulled is the one for Foster. This will be something to watch out for in the future: how the investments do in a specific player, rather than the company overall.

The company completed the Vernon Davis IPO in April 2014, which marked the first time an investor could invest in a security tied to the on- and off-field earnings of a professional athlete. Since then, the company has completed five additional IPOs tied to athletes.

Right now, Fantex has just a handful of NFL players in its roster: Vernon Davis, EJ Manuel and Alshon Jeffery are the three standouts.

The company recently announced brand contracts with four new athletes — Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Ryan Shazier and Andrew Heaney. Heaney represents the first Major League Baseball player to sign a contract with Fantex.

So far it's been a very retail trade. The latest filing says Fantex has sold 1.5 million shares for six player deals.

If you take the most generous assumption that each investor bought an average of 100 shares — that would mean at most 15,000 people have a Fantex player investment. The company itself says it does not publicize accounts or trading data, but they do have "thousands of accounts and investors as diverse as accredited individuals to institutions and family offices."

That's small for now, but it might be something that takes off down the road. Remember daily fantasy sports (such as DraftKings and FanDuel) were practically unheard of for several years, before exploding this year.

Fantex told CNBC there will be more news soon, but for now, we can't speculate what that might be.

The company makes money taking transaction and management fees in the process of connecting money from the public to the player.

Disclosure: Comcast and NBC are investors in FanDuel. One clarification from the story specified the difference between the IPO for Foster specifically versus the company overall.