[Updated] ONE Championship raises $70m, likely to start events soon

Chatri Sityodtong, founder and chairman of ONE Championship

Singapore-based ONE Championship, Asia’s largest sports media property, announced Monday that it has raised $70 million from new and existing investors even as contact sports remain limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

ONE, which is backed by storied Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital, did not disclose the names of the investors in the latest funding round but said existing institutional backers and new ones have chipped in to raise the funds.

The new funding could be in the form of convertible debt. Information compiled by DealStreetAsia shows that ONE amended its constitution on June 5 to allow for the issuance of up to SGD35.43 million ($25.41 million) of convertible notes due 2025 to Dahlia Investments, an investment vehicle of Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek.

Dahlia had previously invested SGD34.09 million ($24.44 million) into ONE equity. The new notes are part of a planned issuance of SGD113.36 million ($81.30 million) of convertibles due 2025, according to filings by ONE.

In March 2019, ONE also sold SGD10.35 million ($7.42 million) of preference shares at about SGD46.78 apiece to the family office of David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG Capital.

ONE said it could not clarify by press time whether the $70 million announced in its latest announcement included the convertible bonds and Bonderman’s investment.

The unicorn startup said it now has a total capital of $346 million and the funding comes as it has streamlined operations, including a 20-per cent reduction of total worldwide headcount. It did not explain how the $346 million of capital was calculated, whether it was net of liabilities, and how much was cash on hand.

“I am full of gratitude for this strong vote of confidence amidst the worst global economic crisis in 100 years,” said Hua Fung Teh, group president of ONE Championship.

A source told DealStreetAsia that the startup is marking plans to start events soon once the government and border restrictions are lifted.

“With 9 figures of cash on the balance sheet and a streamlined organization, ONE Championship looks forward to continuing to delight our fans around the world with more heroes and new experiences for many years to come,” Teh said.

ONE Championship was valued at over $1 billion in its funding round last year. It also raised a $166-million Series D led by Sequoia Capital in 2018.

The company looks into monetising its 20-million-strong global fan base. The Asian media property’s total viewership and reach are already on par with the NFL, Chatri Sityodtong, CEO, founder, and chairman of ONE Championship, told DealStreetAsia in an interview last year.

In 2018, the Asian startup sealed a three-year broadcast deal with Turner Sports to bring its content to American viewers. The deal covers Turner’s major platforms, TNT and B/R Live, and altogether feeds over 90 million households in North America.

ONE has a roster of more than 500 athletes globally.

Kenneth Lim contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include investments by Temasek and David Bonderman.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.