FanDuel Acquires Sports Analytics Company NumberFire

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Fantasy sports company FanDuel is acquiring numberFire in a deal that co-founder and CEO Nigel Eccles told me will help FanDuel pursue a vision that goes beyond fantasy sports.

“Our ambitions have really broadened,” Eccles said. “We’ve started to think of ourselves less as a fantasy sports business — we want to make sports more exciting.”

To be clear, Eccles does plan to integrate numberFire analytics into FanDuel’s fantasy sports product (apparently adding more data has been a big request from current players). At the same time, numberFire will also continue to operate as an independent site. And yes, numberFire is itself focused on making recommendations for fantasy sports, but Eccles said there’s also an opportunity to “educate sports fans,” including the ones that aren’t playing fantasy football.

numberFire founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio will be joining FanDuel, as will the rest of his team.

“I know a lot of people you talk to say that they’re pumped up, but I’m super ridiculously unbelievably pumped up,” Bonaddio said. “I couldn’t imagine a better landing place for us, where our intellectual property has the best chance to grow and prosper.”

He added there’s a broader shift in the sports landscape, with fans “moving away from a world where ESPN lobs these general, qualitative statements at them.” In this environment, fans want more data, but the challenge is to highlight the information that’s relevant and useful — in this case, that means recommending the players who’ll perform best in your fantasy lineup in a given week.

numberFire initially achieved that goal through articles that summarized some of the key recommendations gleaned from the data, but Bonaddio said it’s moving to an increasingly tech-driven approach.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Eccles counts this as FanDuel’s third acquisition of the year, though the other two were basically talent acquisitions — it hired most of the team at Zynga’s shuttered sports division in Orlando, and it acquired Scotland-based app developer Kotikan.

FanDuel has “moved very quickly from five to six years with no acquisitions” to making three deals in a few months, Eccles said, and if there are more opportunities to “add strong teams and nice, solid products,” then he’s open to more deals in the future. He should have the money for it, since FanDuel just raised a $275 million Series E.