Indian fantasy sports app Dream11’s parent firm raises $400 million

Dream Sports, the parent firm of fantasy sports app Dream11, has secured $400 million in a new financing round as the Mumbai-headquartered firm builds what it calls an “end-to-end sports tech company” in the cricket-loving nation, which is also the world’s second-largest internet market.

The secondary fundraise was led by TCV, D1 Capital Partners and Falcon Edge. The new round valued the startup at nearly $5 billion, up from about $2.5 billion in a mix of primary and secondary September round last year.

Existing investors, including Tiger Global, ChrysCapital, TPG Growth, Steadview Capital and Footpath Ventures, also participated in the round, which brings Dream Sports’ total to-date raise to over $720 million.

Dream11 has cashed in on the popularity of cricket — a game that has attracted serious attention from several major firms, including Disney and Facebook. Dream11 explores the fantasy part of it, allowing gamers to create virtual teams comprising real-life players and lets them organize matches based on statistical performances of those players in real games. The platform offers fantasy cricket, football, kabaddi and basketball. Users win cash prizes depending on how their selected team performs.

“This is a huge vote of confidence to the Indian startup ecosystem. We have created the Fantasy Sports category in India to drive digital engagement to real-life sporting events and bring fans closer to the sport they love. We are proud to continually contribute to the overall expansion of the Indian sports ecosystem. Our growth trajectory is also a testimony to the honourable Prime Minister’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Digital India,” said Harsh Jain, co-founder and chief executive of Dream Sports, in a statement.

The startup, whose Android app is not on the Play Store, said it has more than 100 million users. Dream11 was the title sponsor for last year’s cricket tournament IPL after bidding $30 million for the spot.

“India is home to the world’s largest and most energetic sports fan base with a dynamic mix that is unique to the subcontinent. Dream Sports is serving this community with a highly innovative product offering,” said Gopi Vaddi, general partner at TCV, in a statement. TCV has also backed Netflix, Airbnb, Sportradar and Peloton.

Dream11 isn’t the only firm building a niche in the fantasy sports space in India. Sequoia Capital India and Times Internet-backed Mobile Premier League is also a major player, which has expanded to traditional mobile games in recent months. Twitter-backed ShareChat also quietly began experimenting with fantasy sports last year.

But fantasy sports is still facing some regulatory hurdles in parts of India. Several Indian states, including Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Telangana, have banned fantasy sports betting.

“It doesn’t help matters either that the fantasy sports business’ attempts at legitimacy involve trying to be seen as video games — a cursory glance at a speakers’ panel for any Indian video game developer event is evidence of this — rather than riding on its own merits,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and editor of IGN India, in an earlier interview with TechCrunch.