India’s Dream Sports raises $225m amid stay-home boon


NEW DELHI — Mumbai-based Dream Sports, owner of the fantasy sports platform Dream11, on Monday announced that it has raised $225 million in a funding round led by New York investment firm Tiger Global Management, TPG Tech Adjacencies, homegrown private equity firm ChrysCapital and Footpath Ventures.

The money was raised through a mix of primary and secondary transactions, Dream Sports said.

“We welcome our new partners in this phase of our growth. We have grown from one to many brands and from 200 Sportans (employees of Dream Sports) to 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,” Dream Sports co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Bhavit Sheth said.

Founded in 2012 by Harsh Jain and Sheth, Dream11 offers fantasy games in categories such as cricket, soccer, kabaddi and basketball. It was reportedly in talks with several investors, including Eduardo Saverin’s venture capital firm B Capital Group, since earlier this year.

It was valued at $1.1 billion following the completion of a secondary investment by Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital in April 2019. The startup had previously closed a $100 million Series D funding round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, with participation from Kalaari Capital and Multiples PE, in September 2018.

“In the last two years, we have grown beyond fantasy sports to sports content, merchandise, streaming, experiences — and there is much more to come,” Chief Executive Officer Jain said.

Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial adviser to Dream Sports for the transaction.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for online gaming startups as people stay at home. In India, which went into a nationwide lockdown in March, traffic to gaming sites has surged in the last few months. Moreover, India’s ban on the popular Chinese game PUBG Mobile has opened an array of opportunities for other esports companies that are experimenting with other genres in gaming.

According to a report by Maple Capital Advisors, the gaming industry in India is expected to touch $3.7 billion by 2024, fueled by a growth in digital infrastructure and a substantial rise in quality and engaging gaming content. Currently the sector is valued at $930 million.

Earlier this month, fantasy sports platform Fantasy Akhada raised funding from Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle. The real-money gaming platform WinZO, available in multiple Indian languages, has raised $18 million from Makers Fund, Courtside Ventures and others.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on corporate investment activity in Asia especially Southeast Asia and India. Nikkei owns a majority stake in the company.

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