RotoQL was founded by top daily fantasy sports player Saahil Sud
Legal Sports Report

DraftKings CEO Robins Divests From Funding Round For Sports Data Company RotoQL

DraftKings Robins rotoql
Sports data and analytics company RotoQL — which has so far focused on the daily fantasy sports market — is branching out with $1.2 million in new investment funding.

The round was led by Boston Seed Capital and Saahil Sud, the founder of RotoQL and a top professional DFS player who once played under the name “Maxdalury.”

Originally, a small part of the funding came from DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. But Robins issued a statement on Thursday indicating he would sell his investment after concerns raised by the DFS community.

“I have long been committed to fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs by giving my time, mentorship and occasionally seed funding to promising new start-up companies. I benefited from similar support when co-founding DraftKings and I believe strongly in paying back this generosity. As an angel investor, I have tried to help a wide variety of start-ups. In this personal capacity, I made a small investment in RotoQL’s initial funding round, totaling less than 1% of what was raised.

“While I believe in helping new small businesses get off the ground, my top priority has always been DraftKings and our player community. My support for RotoQL has unintentionally created confusion among some of our players and partners.

“I am proud of the angel investing I do to support entrepreneurs, but I don’t want that good work to create any concern among our customers. So after listening to our players, I have decided to sell my minor stake in RotoQL. I remain, as always, fully focused on DraftKings and our passionate customers.”

More on the RotoQL funding round

The company — founded in 2015 — started as a DFS-centric site, with tools and data aimed at players at DraftKings and FanDuel.

The new seed round signals the company’s desire to become a more comprehensive sports data company.

“RotoQL seeks to build and own the  information highway for consumers in the sports vertical,” Sud said in a press release announcing the round. “Our vision goes beyond just DFS. We also seek to revolutionize and democratize the way consumers access and enjoy sports data and this seed round will help us get there faster.”

“We believe that sports data is a really powerful form of entertainment,” RotoQL CEO Justin Park told Legal Sports Report in an interview in advance of the announcement of the round. “Our mission is to be the world’s best provider of sport data to consumers.”

Other RotoQL investors

Other investors, per RotoQL:

  • Peter Blacklow​: General Partner at Boston Seed Capital, former president at online skill games company WorldWinner.
  • Ralph Topping: Former CEO at William Hill.
  • Mark Mariani​: Owner and president of sports betting information site VegasInsider.com, formerly of Sportsline (now owned by CBS).
  • Michael Spirito: Vice president at FOX Sports Regional Networks.
  • Paul Beattie: Founder of sportsbooks software provider OpenBet.
  • Tim McSweeney: Angel investor.

“RotoQL launched with a daily fantasy product that empowers players to leverage data and analytics in order to build competitive lineups, and next, the company will build data products for season-long fantasy players,” Blacklow said in the presser. “While there are several large B2B sports data businesses, there is no leader in sports data for consumers — we believe the team at RotoQL will become the Bloomberg data terminal for sports fans.”

More on RotoQL’s plans

RotoQL says it is already profitable after just a year of operation, with seven figures in revenue this year. But the company’s aspirations go beyond simple profitability.

The biggest of those plans include an app and transitioning into data aimed at season-long fantasy. Park saids the app is already in development, with a beta likely before NFL season.

“Moving forward we’ll be targeting a more casual audience with mobile products,” Park said. “We feel there’s a really big potential in providing easy-to-use mobile-first tools for casual fantasy players.”

DFS and analytics companies

Data in fantasy sports — and the sports industry in general — is big business. All you have to do is look at deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars between leagues like the NBA and data company Sportradar for evidence of that.

And the content side of the fantasy sports industry continues to be a growth area; there is no shortage of sites providing fantasy sports information to consumers. The long-term hope for some consumer-facing sports data companies is for sports betting to be legalized in the US in the future. That would provide an even larger potential market.

Other examples in the DFS space:

  • Just last year, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban led a round for another fantasy sports data site, Fantasy Labs.
  • FanDuel bought an analytics company — numberFire — in 2015.

DraftKings and the relationship with RotoQL goes beyond just the funding by Robins. An email to DraftKings users in March offered a free three-day trial to the site. “Saahil Sud (formerly Maxdalury) started RotoQL to provide DFS players with the analytics and tools that have supported his accomplishments (#1 player ranked on independent leaderboards), and now you can try it out for free,” the email read.

DraftKings also has its eye on a larger sports data presence via its DK Live app, which includes fantasy information, general sports news and live updates.

Correction: The story originally said Robins led the RotoQL funding round. Legal Sports Report received a press release to that effect before the announcement. RotoQL has since informed LSR that Robins was merely a part of the funding round.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.