FanDuel to undergo expansion as fantasy sports grow

Nigel and Lesley Eccles - both co-founders want to grow FanDuel in Scotland.
Nigel and Lesley Eccles - both co-founders want to grow FanDuel in Scotland.
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The chief executive of FanDuel, the fantasy sports operator founded in Edinburgh, has said he wants to grow the firm’s headcount in Scotland following its merger with US rival DraftKings.

Nigel Eccles, who set up the business in 2009 with his wife, Lesley, and fellow co-founders Tom Griffiths, Rob Jones and Chris Stafford, said that FanDuel, now headquartered in New York, currently has about 150 staff across its offices in the Capital and Glasgow.

Asked whether the merger with DraftKings – announced in November – would have an impact on the company’s workforce, Eccles said: “Mergers in mature industries are often about taking costs out, but that is certainly not the case here.

“We’re merging to get scale and the combined companies will have about 300 people in product development, including engineering, and that’s a number I want to grow. Given that we have such a strong engineering base in Scotland and there’s such a talent pool there I want to grow it in Scotland as well.”

FanDuel, a so-called technology “unicorn” valued at more than $1 billion, lets players build virtual teams of professionals from the fields of American football, baseball, basketball and hockey, with winnings paid out depending on performance, and has faced legal and regulatory hurdles, with some states insisting that its daily competitions amount to gambling. The company launched its offering in the UK last year, targeting fans of the English Premier League.

Eccles, who relocated to the US in September, said the merger with DraftKings is expected to be completed by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval. He will become chairman of the enlarged business, with DraftKings boss Jason Robins becoming chief executive.

In his first wide-ranging interview since the deal was announced, Eccles said the name for the combined group is yet to be decided, adding: “We’ve got two incredibly well-known brands – both FanDuel and DraftKings have brand recognition close to 90 per cent among sports fans in America – so we’re trying to figure out whether we major on one brand or the other.”

Eccles also said that a stock market flotation was “certainly a possibility” for the firm.

He said: “In the short term, the real focus is on getting the merger through, getting the integration completed and building a phenomenal business. As we do that, we’ll then turn to thinking whether [a flotation] is the right path to go down. The merger makes it a very substantial business and one that could go public.”