Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Dream Sports, the parent company of India’s leading online fantasy sports company Dream11, has secured fresh funding of $225 million from Tiger Global Management, TPG Tech Adjacencies (TTAD), ChrysCapital and Footpath Ventures.

According to sources, the secondary investment has valued Dream11 at about $2.5 billion, while the primary cash infusion is at a valuation of $2.2 billion.

The funding, which is largely secondary in nature, with a smaller primary component, is also expected to result in further reduction of Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings’ stake in the company to a single digit, sources told ET. Tencent had led a $100 million funding round in Dream11 in September 2018.

At least two other early investors in Dream11 – Kalaari Capital and Renuka Ramnath-led private equity firm Multiples Alternate Asset Management are also believed to have shed a portion of their stakes in the company in the latest transaction.

Tencent had led Dream11’s series D funding round of $100 million in September 2018, along with other investors including Kalaari Capital and private equity firm Multiples Alternate Asset Management.

Additionally, the investment by New York-headquartered Tiger Global Management in Dream11 is its third in an Indian unicorn in the ongoing calendar year, after having pumped in funds in ed-tech major Byju’s in January, as well as in online food delivery major Zomato earlier this month.

ChrysCap and TPG’s interest in Dream11 was first reported by ET in its editions dated February 19, and again on March 9. Homegrown private equity major Kedaara Capital had also shown interest at a later stage, pumping in capital in the 11-year-old company, as did Lupa Systems, the private investment arm of News Corp scion James Murdoch.

Recently, Dream11 has won the title sponsorship rights for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Rs 222 crore, and has also signed as co-presenting sponsor for the league on Star Sports with an estimated outgo of Rs 100 crore.

“We are excited to welcome our new partners, who share our passion for sports and have extensive experience in building highly valuable tech companies in India,” said Harsh Jain, CEO and Co-Founder, Dream Sports.

Jain added that Dream Sports has grown beyond fantasy sports to sports content, merchandise, streaming and experiences in the last two years, and “there is much more to come”.

Dream Sports also owns multiple-sport aggregator and fan engagement platform FanCode as well as sports accelerator company DreamX.

Last year in April, the company had raised $60 million from Steadview Capital, which had made it the first sports startup to join the coveted unicorn club.

Avendus Capital was the financial advisor to Dream Sports on the transaction.

“The sports sector has high growth potential in India,” said Akshay Tanna, Managing Director, TPG. “There is a significant opportunity to enhance the fan experience and we are excited to partner with Dream Sports to leverage technology in ways that will deepen the connection between Indian fans and the sports they love.”

Launched in 2008 by Jain and Bhavit Sheth, the company has grown from one to many brands and from 200 employees to over 450 in the last two years. “I am proud of our lean yet highly efficient team that has been the driving force behind the creation of ‘Sports Tech’ as a new industry category in India,” said Bhavit Sheth, COO and Co-Founder, Dream Sports.

Fantasy sports has seen massive growth in the last couple of years in India. As per industry estimates, there are close to 100 million players in the country, out of which 82 million use Dream11.

As per Jain, the overall potential in the next two years is going to be around 250 million users in India. The growth of the sector has also resulted in mushrooming of companies in the sector. From around 30 companies in 2016, the fantasy sports sector now has over 200 companies.

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