Unicorns 123/229 – FanDuel
Founders: Nigel Eccles, Tom Griffiths
Key people: Nigel Eccles (CEO)
Number of employees: ~500
FanDuel is a web-based fantasy sports game and the second largest daily fantasy sports company (as measured by entry fees) in the daily fantasy sports industry. The model consists of traditional season-long fantasy sports leagues being compressed into a free and/or paid daily, and occasionally weekly, game of skill. As of April 2016 most U.S. states consider fantasy sports (including daily fantasy sports) a game of skill and not gambling.
FanDuel was launched by Hubdub, a web-based prediction market game company, on July 21, 2009, after taking in $1.2 million in venture capital funding from Pentech Ventures and Scottish Enterprise. In 2010, FanDuel held its first “FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship (FFFC).” The event consisted of 10 users who won entry into the event by winning a qualifying league throughout the NFL season. First place was awarded $25,000 and the total prize pool was $40,000.
On January 30, 2013, FanDuel announced that it had closed an $11 million Series C funding round. The round includ ed new investor Comcast Ventures (the venture capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation), along with previous investors Piton Capital, Pentech Ventures, Bullpen Capital and serial investor Richard Koch. In September 2014, the company announced $70 million in Series D funding. The round was led by Shamrock Capital Advisors with participation from NBC Sports Ventures and KKR. Previous investors Bullpen Capital, Pentech Ventures and Comcast Ventures also participated. In July 2015, FanDuel announced a Series E funding round of $275 million leading the company to be valued at over a billion dollars. Shortly after announcing the fundraise, FanDuel acquired sports analytics company numberFire. In September 2015, FanDuel acquired the e-sports focused DFS service AlphaDraft.
As of April 2016, the company employs 400 people, with offices in New York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Orlando, and Los Angeles.