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FanDuel Hires the Majority of Zynga's Recently Discarded Sports Division

FanDuel is bringing on nearly 40 new employees, almost all of them from Zynga.

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Nearly all of the 40-plus employees who spent the past year working on sports games at Zynga have found a new team — fantasy sports company FanDuel.

FanDuel, which specializes in daily fantasy sports games, has hired the majority of the group that made up Zynga Sports 365, an Orlando-based sports studio that was closed earlier this month as part of massive layoffs at Zynga intended to “de-clutter the organization.”

Among those now working at FanDuel is Mike Taramykin, the VP who was running Zynga’s sports efforts. Taramykin, who was named executive VP of product at FanDuel, told Re/code that around 38 of the 42 employees working on Zynga’s short-lived sports vertical are joining him at the fantasy sports company. FanDuel will open its first office in Orlando to accommodate the new hires.

Zynga offered just one sports game, a fantasy sports titled called NFL Showdown. Originally expected to compete in some capacity with EA’s mobile version of Madden NFL, the game instead drew heavily from the fantasy sports world, tasking players with managing fantasy teams through a full 21-week football season every 21 days.

FanDuel, on the other hand, only offers fantasy sports games for a number of major sports leagues, like the NFL, NBA and MLB. So it’s clear why the Zynga group was of interest.

The timing also works well for FanDuel. The NFL season — which kicks off in September — drives more users to FanDuel than at any other time of the year. The company also announced sponsorship deals with 15 different NFL teams in April.

The point? Football season keeps FanDuel very busy, and was one of the primary reasons it took on nearly 40 more employees at one time. FanDuel brought in revenue of $37 million in Q4 2014 (football season), up from just $7.4 million the year before.

Taramykin says the new team will start by simply supporting FanDuel’s existing products, which let users compete in one-day fantasy sports competitions for a small fee. “What we’re finding is the more we’re talking about FanDuel’s roadmap, the more we realize how much of the work we’ve done in related products really applies,” he added, saying it was too early to tell if the new hires will be building new products.

FanDuel isn’t sharing how much money it’s spending on the hiring spree and new office. The company does, however, plan to double its U.S. workforce from 80 people at the beginning of May to more than 160 by the end of the year, according to a spokesperson.

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