South Africa’s Naspers Ltd is in talks to buy a stake worth about $100 million in online fantasy gaming startup Dream11 from Kalaari Capital, Think Investments and Multiples Alternate Asset Management, said two people aware of the matter.
Following bumper earnings from the Cricket World Cup and Indian Premier League, Dream11 is now seeking a valuation of $2.5 billion, more than double the $1.1 billion it was valued at in April, the people said on the condition of anonymity.
Dream11, Naspers, Kalaari and Multiples did not respond to emails seeking comment.
“Dream11 does not need to raise a large round, but has significant inbound interest from investors. When these companies are growing fast, they prefer having a diversified set of investors and such secondary rounds give the founder the valuations they want and give early investors exit at good multiples," said an investor tracking the company on condition of anonymity.
The company is nearing profitability, and saw the value of transactions on its platform rise to a run rate of $2 billion for the last quarter, translating to a revenue of about $150 million, the investor added.
Founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth in 2012, Dream11 offers games such as cricket, kabaddi and football, where users can win money from a reward pool, depending on the players they pick and the actual outcome of the game. Its official partners include the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Dream11 has emerged as one of the fastest growing tech startups in India, driven by a lack of competition in the space, a large user base and avid following of sports, especially cricket.
Dream11 became a unicorn, valued at over a billion dollars ($1.1 billion), in April, when US-based hedge fund Steadview Capital led a $60 million round by purchasing secondary stakes from early investors. The company was valued at $700 million in September, when it raised $100 million from Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Dream11 had about 50 million subscribers in February and is looking to double the number by the end of the year.
Investor interest as well the company’s value has surged after the Supreme Court in an order last year said that the Dream11 format of fantasy sports is legal and one that requires considerable skill and judgement, and thus is not gambling and is protected by the Constitution as a legitimate business.
Although gaming for money a state subject and each state has separate rules, the Supreme Court’s directive in favour of the company, as well as other states which have declared its business as legal, have helped it grow at a rapid pace.