Embattled daily fantasy behemoths DraftKings and FanDuel have received major funding and partnerships from big sports leagues and teams, but most of that funding came in before the alleged insider information scandal and various states’ legal pushback against daily fantasy. Despite daily fantasy’s current struggles, though, Dallas Mavericks’ owner and famed Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban has decided now’s a good time to invest in the sector. As Darren Heitner writes at Forbes, though, Cuban isn’t going in with the big names that focus on running their own contests, but rather buying a “significant” stake in a smaller outfit called Fantasy Labs that provides DFS tools:
Terms of Cuban’s investment in Fantasy Labs were not disclosed. Co-Founder Jonathan Bales says it is a “significant enough amount of money to bring on a bunch of talented people so we can really scale our product development to create new tools and expand to new verticals, as well as ramp up marketing efforts.”
It is clear that Cuban is committed to furthering the fantasy sports industry. He is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Winter Conference in Dallas on January 20, 2016.
The explosive growth of fantasy sports, and its involvement with new categories of competition like eSports, increase the need for high-end resources like the platform offered by Fantasy Labs ,” said Mark Cuban. “I’m excited to be involved with a company that is working to advance an industry that is poised for huge growth.”
Fantasy Labs, which was created within the past year, provides a platform of proprietary daily fantasy sports data, tools and analytics, allowing users to leverage its massive database of stats and information for a competitive advantage. It provides a “Lineup Optimizer” that automatically generates optimal lineups based on player projection models and a “Trends” feature, allowing users to determine what factors are priced into player salaries on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Cuban is far from the first pro sports owner to get involved in the daily fantasy sector, as Knicks’ owner James Dolan, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft have all invested to the level that they’re named in lawsuits, but it’s interesting to see that he’s still bullish on daily fantasy despite its legal challenges. The mention of eSports is also notable; that’s a growing sector in its own right, and one sports media outlets and broadcasters are starting to pay attention to, so further daily fantasy involvement there might help the DFS sector grow. We’ll see if Cuban’s investment here pays off or not, but it is at least thematically appropriate to see the Mavericks’ owner going against the conventional wisdom that DFS is under siege.