Basketball superstar Klay Thompson recently scored in the tech world.
In a $40 million funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, the National Basketball Association (NBA) star’s Thompson Family Foundation has invested in fantasy sports startup Sleeper, reportedly quadrupling its value to more than $400 million.
According to Bloomberg, the funding will be for “product development and hiring in areas including engineering, design, customer support, finance and marketing.”
Joining Andreessen Horowitz and Thompson were existing backers General Catalyst and Birchmere Ventures along with angel investors that included Miami Dolphins player Byron Jones and former NBA player Shane Battier, Bloomberg reports.
Sleeper’s initial focus was on the National Football League (NFL) and the NBA, but the pandemic’s impact pushed them to extend into esports as well. In addition, the startup also added college basketball this year.
“Originally, the goal was to do arena sports and then strategically select esports that we thought would be big market opportunities,” Sleeper’s Chief Executive Officer Nan Wang told TechCrunch. “In the absence of sports, it becomes easier for us to push something that was further out on the roadmap.”
Bloomberg reports that Wang is looking into “featuring soccer’s English Premier League, Major League Baseball and Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
“Sleeper historically refers to an underdog in sports that outperforms — that’s who we think we are, a small and mighty team creating games that bring friends, families and co-workers together,” Wang told Bloomberg.
The startup is based in San Francisco — further making the Golden State Warriors player’s investment a well-suited choice. The app is a space for user engagement and connection within sports.
“Sleeper’s multiplayer experience is all about helping sports fans connect with their friends,” Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Andrew Chen told Bloomberg.
In May 2020, Sleeper closed a $20 million Series B funding round — led again by Andreessen Horowitz — along with NBA stars Kevin Durant and Baron Davis, NFL record breaker JuJu Smith-Schuster and Twitch CEO Kevin Lin, according to TechCrunch.