After the entire hullabaloo, China is back at the Indian Premier League (IPL). Dream 11, the newly selected title sponsor for Indian Premier League, has substantial investment from Chinese conglomerate Tencent. Notably, Vivo, the previous title sponsor, had walked away from the T-20 tournament this year citing rampant negative sentiments against Chinese companies in the wake of deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan valley back in May.
Tencent had invested $100 million in Dream11 for a majority stake in the fantasy cricket league platform as part of the latter's Series D funding in September 2018. While the companies hadn't declared the quantum of stake this investment amounted to, reports claimed that Tencent had acquired 10 per cent stake in Dream11.
On Tuesday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India awarded the title sponsorship of IPL 2020 to Dream11 for a Rs 222 crore deal. While Tata Group did not submit a final bid for sponsorship, edu-tech firms Byju's and Unacademy came second and third.
What is Dream11?
Dream11 was founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Jain in 2012. A pioneer in fantasy sport segment in India, the Mumbai-based company became the first Indian gaming company to achieve the unicorn status in April 2019 after a secondary investment from Steadview Capital Management.
Apart from Tencent and Steadview, Dream11 counts Multiples, Think Investments and Kalaari Capital among its investors. According to its website, the fantasy sport platform has partnered with IPL, BCCI, International Cricket Council (ICC), National Basketball Association (NBA), Caribbean Premier League and Australia's Big Bash League, among other sports associations and organisers.
Tencent and its India connection
Founded in 1998 in Shenzen, China, Tencent specialises in multiple ventures, video games, social media, e-commerce, entertainment, artificial intelligence, payments to name a few. It is presently the biggest gaming and social media company in China. PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile, smartphone games developed by the company in collaboration with original developers of the respective franchises, are already household names in India.
Tencent also has invested in several Indian internet platforms, including music application Gaana and internet messenger Hike.