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DraftKings, FanDuel merger just fantasy after all

DraftKings and FanDuel have called off their merger, announced in November 2016, after the US Federal Trade Commission moved to block the deal late last month.

DraftKings and FanDuel have called off their merger, an agreement first announced last November, after the US Federal Trade Commission moved to block the deal late last month. The FTC alleged the combined company would control more than 90% of the US market for daily fantasy sports and deprive customers of the benefits from competition.

Following the complaint from the FTC and the attorneys general from Washington, DC, and California, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, who had been slated to run the combined company, and FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles, who would have become its chairman, vowed to explore all options. A trial was set to begin November 21.

Robins and Eccles each issued statements Thursday saying it would be best for their respective customers, employees and investors to move forward independently.

With a merger now out the window, the question becomes whether DraftKings and FanDuel will return to their old ways, dropping huge sums of money to bombard American sports fans with commercials. In 2015 alone, that strategy led in part to DraftKings booking an operating loss of $509 million on $89 million in revenue, according to financials acquired by Axios.

A return to their old ways could be especially easier said than done for FanDuel, which was founded in 2009. The New York-based company most recently raised $55 million in May 2016 at a $1.1 billion valuation, according to the PitchBook Platform, before it stopped seeking funding with the expectation that the DraftKings deal would close.

With the 2017 NFL season just around the corner, FanDuel could very well lack the financial wherewithal to keep pace with its Boston-based rival in the near term, despite similar valuations. Founded in 2012, DraftKings last secured a roughly $119 million round in March at a $1 billion valuation, per PitchBook data, far below the $2 billion value it garnered in August 2015.

Access more information on DraftKings and FanDuel in their free profiles.

  • adam-headshot-15-kbh-637x518.jpg
    Written by Adam Putz

    Adam writes about M&A at PitchBook. Originally from Minnesota, Adam studied philosophy and journalism before earning a PhD in English from the University of Warwick. He is the author of The Celtic Revival in Shakespeare’s Wake (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). When he’s not covering the latest deal or financial news out of Europe, Adam likes to write about environmental issues. In his free time, Adam enjoys hiking and canoeing, reading and traveling.

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