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Fast growing fantasy sports firm FanDuel scores big in the US and launches UK fantasy football product

Judy Law
FanDuel launches new EPL fantasy sports game (Source: FanDuel)

Daily fantasy sports provider, FanDuel, epitomises Edinburgh’s new generation of high growth, disruptive digital businesses capitalising on the city’s rising reputation as a world-leading tech cluster.

Since 2009, FanDuel has been on an incredible journey, which, in recent years, has seen the business revolutionise the daily fantasy sports market in North America. With operations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Orlando, Los Angeles and New York, where the business is headquartered, the tech unicorn retains bold ambitions for the future.

With a potential US market of more than more 60m players, high profile investors such as Google Capital, Time Warner and Turner Sports appreciate the business’ phenomenal growth potential, as it builds on its US customer base of 6m registered players. Last year, the business raised an additional £176m in series E funding, much of which has been invested into FanDuel’s core US market.

Further good news was received in August with the announcement that legislators in the state of New York had followed eight other states in 2016 in introducing new legislation confirming the legality of fantasy sports competitions. In 2015, a number of US Attorney Generals ruled daily fantasy sports contravened strict state gambling laws. The speed with which this turnaround has been accomplished is testament to the popularity of the product and the passion and vocal support given by FanDuel’s millions of US players.

Huge growth

Rob Jones, co-founder and EVP of Design at FanDuel said, “We’ve grown from 100 staff at the start of 2015 to more than 420 employees split across our UK and US offices, and we’re currently going through an active recruitment phase again, due to the huge growth we’ve experienced in the US.

“Part of that expansion has come from a number of acquisitions we made at the end of 2015. Here in Edinburgh we acquired Kotikan, the developers behind our mobile app product, and in August last year, we also folded in the real-time sports analytics company numberFire in the US. That acquisition is pivotal to our ambition to reinvent fantasy sports, making it far more exciting by adding a second screen experience in which players can track their team’s statistics in real-time.

Rob Jones, co-founder and EVP of Design, FanDuel:

Players love to drill down into stats – seeing how many pass completions a quarterback has made, who to and in which areas of the field.”

“We’ve also added a number of partnerships with sports franchises in the US. We now have relationships with 16 NBA (basketball) and 15 NFL (American football) teams, which allows us to offer prizes that money simply can’t buy: letting our fantasy players meet the teams; walk out on the field with their favourite team; as well as signed memorabilia.”

Despite FanDuel’s meteoric growth in the US in particular, almost all product development is still managed from Scotland. “Edinburgh has a strong tech and software engineering community. Our US operations are more customer facing, including marketing and customer support.”

Premier League

2016 has seen further expansion, with new products and new markets, most noticeably the launch of its Premier League product in the UK. “The season-long product in the UK has 4m regular players and the popularity of the Premier League is without question.

“Our new UK product has been built from the ground up,” explains Rob. “We wanted to make sure we were adding something to the fantasy football market, making sports more exciting and our relationship with Opta, with their real-time statistics, is again pivotal to that vision.”

Developed over the past 12 months, FanDuel’s latest offering was extensively tested during the recent European Championships in France and initial feedback on its innovative scoring format has been excellent.

If there’s one thing the last 12 months has proved, it’s impossible to predict where FanDuel are likely to be in five years time. But with new products in the development pipeline, new markets to enter and a dominant position in the global daily fantasy sports market, it’s a safe bet they’re here to stay.

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