Edinburgh’s Fanduel is featured prominently in the current edition of The New Yorker. Some highlights:
FanDuel was founded in 2009, as an offshoot of Hubdub, a news-prediction site that Eccles, his wife, Lesley, and three other partners had established a year earlier, in time for the 2008 Presidential election. Hubdub offered users virtual cash with which to bet on the outcome of real events, channelling the wisdom of crowds. “We predicted all fifty states, the same year as Nate Silver,” Eccles said. “But we didn’t get quite as much publicity.”
They didn’t make any money, either, and, as they looked into refocussing their business model, they noticed that the genre of news that was consistently attracting the most predictive activity on the site was the one that they’d included as an afterthought: sports.
There are now more than twenty companies involved in daily-fantasy sports, among them Sports Illustrated and USA Today. But the vast majority of the action—ninety-six per cent, according to the latest estimates—is concentrated on FanDuel and on its chief rival, DraftKings, which was founded in 2011, in Boston, by three sports-fan colleagues at Vistaprint, a direct-marketing company.
Neither FanDuel nor DraftKings is currently profitable, although both are increasingly mentioned as possible “unicorns,” a term used by venture capitalists to refer to startups valued at a billion or more dollars on the basis of fund-raising alone.
Pam Miles, who is fifty-one, works in the accounting department of a small oil-field company outside Houston. “I’m a numbers person,” she said when we spoke, shortly after she’d cashed FanDuel’s hundred-thousand-dollar check, which she planned to spend on having “the pool redone” and on other home-improvement projects.
Read the feature here.