Two days ago, fantasy gaming unicorn became the first startup to get awarded the title sponsorship rights to IPL, beating out the likes of BYJU’S and Unacademy, but the company’s Chinese investors have come under fire especially at a time when anti-China sentiment is on the rise.
Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Wednesday (August 19) wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) raising objections over Dream11 winning the IPL title sponsorship rights, even though China-based Tencent Holding holds a minority stake in the company. Tencent Holdings had led the $100 Mn Series D round of Dream11 in 2018.
Kalaari Capital, Multiples Alternate Asset Management and Steadview Capital have also backed the Dream11, which was founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. Dream11, which was already an official gaming partner for the IPL, offers fantasy gaming in categories such as cricket, football, kabaddi, and basketball. It claims to have over 50 Mn users and enables them to showcase their sports knowledge through fantasy gaming.
In a letter to BCCI President Saurav Ganguly, CAIT said, “We are deeply pained to note that now Dream 11 has been chosen as a sponsor of IPL 2020 which has Chinese company Tencent Global as one of the major stakeholders.”
“We are of the considered opinion that awarding sponsorship to Dream11 is nothing but a bye-pass route to neglect the sentiments and feelings prevailing among the people of India against China for its regular attempts to invade the interests of India,” CAIT added.
Interestingly, Dream11 has won the title rights at almost half the amount (INR 222 Cr or nearly $33.5 Mn) that former title sponsor Vivo paid. The mobile manufacturer had signed a deal with the BCCI to pay INR 440 Cr annually for five-year title rights totalling up to INR 2,000 Cr in between 2018 to 2022.
The title sponsor of IPL 2020 was left vacant after Chinese mobile manufacturer Vivo withdrew this year due to the rising anti-China sentiment in the wake of India-China standoff at Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June. But even Dream11 is not devoid of the Chinese intervention as China-based Tencent Holding is a majority stakeholder in the company.
Dream11 outbid Tata Sons and edtech startups Unacademy and BYJU’S. BYJU’S also sponsors the jersey of the Indian cricket team.