Belfast Telegraph

FanDuel chief Eccles moving on after firm 'transformed' fantasy sport

By Margaret Canning

The Co Tyrone man credited with revolutionising fantasy sports is moving on from the US firm he founded to a new venture.

FanDuel has announced that Nigel Eccles is leaving, to be replaced by Matt King.

Mr Eccles, who is from Cookstown, tweeted: "Excited but a little bit sad to be leaving @fanduel today. It has been an amazing eight years. Really excited to see how Matt King and the team drive the company in 2018 and beyond.

"For me I'm building something awesome in eSports. Watch this space."

As well as setting up FanDuel with his wife Lesley in 2009, Mr Eccles is also one of the backers of the new Ormeau Baths business hub in Belfast.

Last night a spokesman for the Ormeau Baths innovation hub confirmed that Mr Eccles would be continuing in his advisory role following his move into eSports - a term for  competitive video gaming.

Mr Eccles made his name as the creator of FanDuel, which has become one of the world's most popular online betting websites. It has headquarters in Edinburgh as well as New York.

The company closed its UK gaming site in August, just a year after its launch.

FanDuel is popular in the US, where players try to win prize money from a multi-million dollar pot. Mr Eccles co-founded the company in 2009 with his wife, Lesley.

The site runs games based on NFL (American football), NBA (basketball), MLB (baseball) and NHL (ice hockey), as well as college football and basketball, that last just one day.

In 2015 the company was valued at $1bn (£0.8bn). Last year it announced a merger with rival DraftKings but the deal collapsed.

In a statement on FanDuel's website yesterday, its board praised Mr Eccles.

"Nigel achieved something remarkable - he completely redefined an existing industry. His passion, intelligence, and focus have been the bedrock of FanDuel's success. We would like to offer our sincere thanks as he leaves to pursue his next venture.

"We are excited to work with Matt again. He is an exceptional executive who knows the business intimately, and has a clear vision for its next phase of growth."

And Mr Eccles said:"With his strategic vision, range of experiences, and broad skillset, I cannot imagine a better individual to steer FanDuel forward."

The business had previously suffered a setback when a number of US states argued its model is a form of gambling and therefore contravenes gaming laws in the country.

However, subsequent rulings made in its favour have put the company firmly back on track. Mr Eccles is now one of Northern Ireland's richest people - and his story has also inspired Hollywood.

Last year, it emerged that TriStar Pictures had optioned the film rights to 'The Big Game' by Albert Chen, a book detailing how Mr Eccles built up the $1bn company.

This week Ormeau Baths announced it will be the location for the Propel Pre-Accelerator Programme, to be run by Ignite.

Belfast Telegraph

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