thePit.com: is a website that allows collectors to buy and sell professionally graded sportscards as if they were corporate stocks. The site was founded in August, 2000 by Marc Lore, an Englishman and a former executive vice-president at Sanwa International Bank. In its early months, thePit.com was able to attract millions of dollars in venture capital, including an undisclosed amount from the famed MIT computer scientist Nicolas Negroponte; and had working agreements with the likes of Beckett, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Yahoo! Auctions, and Topps. Although thePit.com was able to hire away from Beckett such respected Hobby veterans Tom Layberger and Mike Jasperson, it is unclear if Lore, Negroponte, or any of the original investors had any previous experience in sports cards either as dealers or collectors. On October 10, 2000, thePit.com formally opened for business.
For most card collectors, their first contact with the new site was a (slowly loading) "ticker" that was prominently displayed at the bottom of the beckett.com homepage. Each individual card in thePit's inventory was assigned a four-letter ticker symbol, much like a common stock. For example, a Barry Bonds 1987 Fleer card graded Mint "9" by PSA had a ticker symbol of "BOND". As more and more cards were added, these symbols expanded to include year and grade so that the aforementioned Bonds card now had a ticker symbol of "BOND-87-FLR-P9." Also, to drum-up interest, thePit.com offered collectors on various Hobby e-mail lists a free card (usually an inexpensive rookie card from the junk-wax era) with the opening of a new account.
Most traditional collectors didn't know what to make of the new site and the original owners were quick to cash out. It is believed that in its first year of operation, thePit.com lost $2.2 million. In August 2001, less than a year after the website went live, thePit.com was sold to Topps for $5.7 million -- reportedly as a vehicle for its new line of internet-based eTopps cards. This undertaking was not very successful, however, and Topps unloaded the site on NAXCOM (now known as sportsbuy.com) in January 2006 which continues to operate the site to this day. The price of the transaction was not disclosed, but Topps charged a $3.7 million after-tax loss on its books in connection with the sale.