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Tag Team: Sequoia Closes Series C Round with ONE

Asia’s leading sports media property continues to close in on its multi-billion dollar dream

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BY Cristina Morales - 20 Jul 2017

Sequioa Capital One Championship

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Company

When Chatri Sityodtong started ONE Championship in 2011, he set out to create Asia’s first multi-billion dollar sports media property. It has now come one step closer to its goal with the announcement that it has secured a significant equity investment led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Sequoia, through its India unit (Sequoia India) and Singapore-based Mission Holdings. With this new round of investments, ONE Championship’s total capital raised now stands at $100 million. The company projects that in 12-18 months, it will cross the $1 billion valuation mark.

“I am thrilled to announce this partnership with Sequoia,” says Chatri, chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, in a statement. “As one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world, Sequoia has an unparalleled track record of partnering with early stage companies and helping to build them into global market leaders.”

ONE Championship sets out to “unleash superheroes” across Asia, the home of martial arts for over 5,000 years. Today, the company broadcasts live around the world to a potential 1 billion viewers in over 128 countries. The company has delivered TV ratings share as high as 26% (in the Philippines), and social media reach has grown to 600 million video views in 2017 versus 312,000 in 2014. ONE Championship has also held live mixed martial arts events in Asian cities including Bangkok, Beijing, Singapore, Jakarta, Yangon, Macau, and Taipei.

“We are excited about the potential for live martial arts content at a time when mobile video viewership is exploding across emerging markets,” says Shailendra J. Singh, managing director of Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore Pte. Ltd., in the same statement. “ONE Championship has been a pioneer and major driving force of the martial arts industry in Asia.”

Eyes on the prize

Chatri, a Thai national, founded ONE Championship largely because of his own passion for martial arts. He credits martial arts for helping him get back on his feet when his family lost everything in the Asian financial crisis; he taught Muay Thai to get himself through Harvard Business School in the late nineties. After making a name for himself as a hedge fund manager on Wall Street in the subsequent decade, he moved back to Asia to start ONE Championship in 2011. “I wanted to create a platform that could exemplify the beauty of true martial arts and the Asian values of courage, respect, and discipline—everything the martial arts have taught me,” he says in an earlier interview with Inc. Southeast Asia.

“In our very first meeting with Chatri, we were blown away by his passion for martial arts and his enthusiasm to create the top sports media property in the region. It’s our privilege to be supporting Chatri realize his dream.” says Atin Kukreja, CEO of Rippledot Capital, an advisory firm that played a pivotal role in this funding round’s success.

“Atin Kukreja personally led our deal with Sequoia Capital from start to finish in 7 weeks,” adds Chatri.

“The timing is perfect,” said Derek Lau, CEO of Heliconia Capital Management, in the statement. Heliconia, a previous investor in ONE, is a unit of Temasek Holdings, a $275 billion dollar sovereign wealth fund controlled by the Singapore government. “ONE Championship is now well-positioned to extend its leadership as the largest sports entertainment platform in Asia. We really look forward to working with Sequoia to support Chatri and his fantastic team.”