Betable secures $3 million to become the Twitter for betting

Next Story

FacePlant: An App To Tell You When You Can Actually Use FaceTime

Betable, where users can literally place a bet on anything and have their friends bet with them, has secured a $3 million first time funding led by Atomico, the venture fund set up by former Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. Former Skype chief strategy officer Geoffrey Prentice joins the board. It’s an unusual move for a VC house to back what is in effect a gambling site, but Betable is presumably in the ‘social’ space sufficiently enough for Atomico to feel comfortable with the investment.

While the site is built almost entirely in the US, the CEO and founder Christopher Griffin based and launched the company in the UK where gambling laws are more more conducive to gaming sites than the US. It will compete to some extent with another UK-based social betting site founded by Americans, Smarkets, but where the latter is more for regular gamblers, Betable is designed to be a more casual “Twitter for Betting”. Griffin hopes the site will attract the normal bets made between office workers or between university students (betters have to be over 18).

Betable’s business model is based on taking 10% of the profits on bets. Users get 30% of the proceeds of a bet they’ve created so there is a big incentive to create bets. The service gathers money from all participants upfront, so it can guarantee that the winners get paid. You can deposit cash in an account via credit card, Moneybookers or NETeller. US players can create a profile but are blocked from actually betting because of the anti-gaming laws there.

It’s easy to see Betable falling between the social games of the likes of Zynga and the hard-core betting on Betfair. There is a clear space between the two which Betable is aiming at.

With Betable being aimed at such a casual market, they are also looking at creating smartphone apps for iPhone and Android where people can literally wager each-other on the go.

There is a litany of sites that have tried and failed to crack “social betting” including Pikum, which shuttered, and Bragster, which dumped betting for a media model before being sold off.

But the social aspect of Betable is, by contrast, it’s strongest suit. It appears to be the the first betting site able to connect with Facebook, which is a big move. The site also connects with Twitter, but then doesn’t everyone these days. That means you don’t need to rebuild your social graph. It also means your mum will know about that bet you placed with your co-worker – if you’re not careful.

How will Betable prevent scamming and personal frauds? The idea is that because it’s inherently social, people you know will call you out if you start scamming them with bets you know you can win (e.g. I bet I can drink 5 coffees in 10 minutes etc). Admitedddly, users could gather a group of people who were “in” on the same, but Griffin told me that Betable is very confident of its reputation system. They have to do a lot of ID checks, so bank accounts are tied to addresses, and tied to one ID on the site. And the publicly available “satisfaction rating” on each profile will potetnialy warn people off joining a bet created by a someone who continually cheats others. So you’d need to be a sophisticated, repeat fraudster to get around the system – at least that’s what they say.

Griffin has a pretty experienced team which includes former Microsoft software developer Amit Kumar and former Friendster engineering VP Jeff Winner. In a visit to TechCrunch Europe, we had Griffin create a bet on whether Nokia will dump its CEO. Here’s mine on Facebook hitting 600m users inside the next three months.

Betable is the first company selected for Atomico Ventures II fund.

  • Yannick

    Well done Chris & team! Guys sign up, it’s fun!

  • Liam

    Looks great but seems to be techcrunched at mo. & ferris wheel down message is a pleasant change to fail whale!

    • Amit K

      Hey Liam, no need to worry, we’re prepared for the bump. Just doing a deploy with some new updates. Glad you liked our ferris wheel though ;-)

  • taige

    that’s cool. i saw them at LBS when they first came to the UK

  • tim

    Chris Griffin?

  • tn

    For the most part… people don’t bet their friends. was a prime example… maybe they were too early and these guys will have the timing right… who knows.

  • Jeff

    … looks similar to the German site, funded by Earlybird.

  • Ross Sleight

    The problem with Social betting (in legal markets) is that there isn’t that much of a demand in mass market on a day to day basis. Betting is a niche activity. Betfair’s astounding liquidity and revenue is generated by professional punters and bookmakers themselves – it is a very niche product still.

    The demand for betting is directly linked to major “water cooler” events (the only time the mass market really get involved in sports betting? World Cup, Grand Nationaletc) ; the demand for peer to peer betting is generated by individual ego, often based around these very events (the “put your money where your mouth is” effect).

    Where Betable has a real sweet spot opportunity will be to link in with key (non sport especially) events with IP holders and generate markets on live events – Eurovision, X Factor, etc. Especially if linked with TV – the increase in social traffic discussing key event TV concurrent with the event is astounding in the UK. And especially if they can provide a revenue stream back to the IP holders (the 30%)

    • Fabio De Bernardi

      I agree that tapping into mainstream live events would be a huge opportunity for Betable. However, I like the way it works and can see myself creating some quirky bet every now and then. Shame that stupid gambling regulations don’t make the service available everywhere as it’s killing a piece of the viral loop of being tied into FB/Twitter.

      As an aside, an interesting concept around betting / bragging / mainstream events is which just launched a couple of weeks ago perhaps.

      • azeem

        Reminds me of Flutter (the original betfair competitor) (check out this blast from the past: ) and more historically:

      • Nigel Eccles

        Thanks for that blast from the past.

        Actually the Betable concept was something Flutter had planned to do at launch but then we retreated from it after some market testing and customer feedback. On Flutter you could bet with friends but only on markets created by administrators. These were the more traditional betting markets of sports, entertainment, politics and other categories.

        Even then, 95% plus of the action was on sports and racing. Within 12 months of launch we junked the p2p betting concept and turned the site into a betting exchange. Six months later we merged with Betfair.

  • will

    amazing idea

  • Matt Blum

    great idea!

    thank you for posting

    interested in marketing , please see

  • – Create your own bets. Share them with anyone. | Claude Penland – Webmaster & Actuary
  • Martin

    I like this, will be interesting to see how they roll it out in terms of gaining new users…..

    Irish based are doing something similar in this space but it’s more focused on community based gaming like Fantasy Football and Match Prediction games, etc.

  • Chazz does something similar to this but they are financial contracts, can’t really fraud anyone. However, they are more geared towards national events and not the “social” office bets.

  • Stephen McCurry

    How exactly does real money fit with the Facebook terms of service for Facebook Connect?

    So a group of friends place a $10 bet that lasts 1 month and Betable take 10%. Doesn’t sound like a solid business model. Judging by the 67 matched bets on I guessing the $3M won’t last very long.

  • Thomas

    Great market, and with the betting market opening soon, very nice!


    Sounds pretty good

  • m3kw

    Main problem to reaching masses is having to setup credit account info, let see if you can get enough bets going before running out of cash. But if this becomes big, financial institutions will start betting on it as well.

  • m3kw

    Another thing, if it was a popular subject like a major event say NFL Superbowl x vs y, you would get thousands of same bet with different pots, this would spread the pots thin and you’d need a way to combine the pots effectively to create an eye catching pot, not as easy as it sounds because it must be human, and you could face issues with betters not wanting to go to the different sized pot.

  • m3kw

    You would want to create large pots, based on popular events and then market those bets effectively to certain sites. You will need to control those pots to be exclusive to you.

  • m3kw

    Another problem is the rules are so long. I want quick answers like how do i get paid, and when do i get paid after the bet expires. how do i avoid getting scammed. I want to know all these in 3 sentances not reading through what looks like Apple’s EULA.

  • Betable: Social Media Betting / Money Watch

    […] TechCrunch has the news that Betable, a site where users can bet on anything, has secured $3million in venture capital to progress its efforts to become a “Twitter for gambling”. Betable is the first place where you can bet with friends, family, colleagues and others on anything that interests you. With thousands of bets to choose from in our betting marketplace and the ability to create your own bets, you’ll never run out of exciting things to bet on. What’s more, Betable lets you invite your friends and the greater betting community to bet with you so you can share the excitement and have some friendly competition. […]

  • jon

    Great idea, wish we could have this in the US.

  • Anonymous

    Twitter is stupid, Facebook is stupid, and Betable is the worst of the bunch…


    Make sure to register to get notified when this Great Social Network comes live soon

  • Adam

    well this could be interesting i guess, i wander if they’ll have an affiliate program

    • Christopher Griffin

      Hi Adam:

      We are actually doing a pilot affiliate program right now. Would you be interested in being a part of it? If so, email: partnerships @ betable dot com

  • reverse cell

    Twitter and betting, I that’s quite interesting. This would make twitter friends argue even more.

blog comments powered by Disqus