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FanDuel CEO and co-founder Nigel Eccles is leaving to start an eSports company

Key Points
  • Eccles was set to be the chairman of the new joint company but he was not going to be CEO. Hence the interest in starting something new.
  • Eccles isn't saying much about his new venture just yet, except that it's in the competitive video gaming industry know as eSports and it's very early.
  • Eccles replacement as CEO is Matt King, who served as FanDuel's CFO for three years ending in 2016.
Nigel Eccles
Michael Newberg | CNBC

FanDuel CEO and co-founder Nigel Eccles is leaving the company and stepping down from its board, where he was chairman.

Eccles, who's been CEO since the company's founding in 2009, announced internally that he is leaving to start an eSports company. Monday is his last day.

Eccles had been kicking around new startup ideas ever since FanDuel and DraftKings, rival fantasy sports sites, agreed to a merger late last year. Eccles was set to be the chairman of the new joint company but he was not going to be CEO. Hence the interest in starting something new.

That deal fell through in July after the government threatened to block it to prevent the two companies from forming a monopoly. While both companies are relatively small, they both offer daily fantasy sports competitions, which are a somewhat niche portion of the fantasy sports world. The Federal Trade Commission argued that "the combined firm would control more than 90 percent of the U.S. market."

That meant that Eccles, who had been planning something new, was suddenly back in charge of FanDuel for the long haul. That obviously is no longer the case.

Eccles replacement as CEO is Matt King, who served as FanDuel's CFO for three years ending in 2016. He then left and spent a year at insurance broker Cottingham & Butler before returning to FanDuel to become its CEO. King, who has also spent more than a decade at investment firm KKR, is taking a board seat.

FanDuel is adding two more people to its board. Carl Vogel, former vice-chairman and president of Dish Network, is joining FanDuel's board as chairman. David Nathanson, a former Fox Sports executive who left the company this fall, is also joining the board.

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Eccles isn't saying much about his new venture just yet, except that it's in the competitive video gaming industry know as eSports and it's very early. "Just a thought in my head," he said in an interview. Eccles says he's excited about getting into an industry that's just taking off — eSports is much less established than the traditional sports world he's been focused on with fantasy sports.

"Traditional sports are in harvest mode," he said in an interview with Recode. "ESports are in growth mode."

By Kurt Wagner, Recode.net.

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