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ONE Championship lays off sizable chunk of workforce to ‘ensure its longevity’

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ONE Championship has laid off a good chunk of their workforce.

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ONE Championship announced on Monday that they’re laying off “20%” of their workforce.

The Singapore-based MMA promotion, which has been known for making very bold claims, unsurprisingly had their unique way of revealing the unfortunate news.

Their press release was mainly about claiming to add $70 million to its “war chest” from undisclosed “existing and new” investors, but they also mention a decision to have a “20% reduction of total worldwide headcount.” The news was something their President was apparently “thrilled to announce.”

ONE Championship Adds US$70 Million To Its War Chest
Existing And New Institutional Investors Participate

The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), today announced that it has added US$70 million to its war chest, bringing total capital to US$346 million. ONE Championship has also streamlined operations, including a 20% reduction of total worldwide headcount.

Hua Fung Teh, Group President of ONE Championship, stated: “I am thrilled to announce that ONE Championship closed another round of funding a few weeks ago with existing institutional investors as well as a new institutional investor. I am full of gratitude for this strong vote of confidence amidst the worst global economic crisis in 100 years. 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.”

Apart from receiving flack from media and pundits on social media, the announcement also caught the attention of UFC President Dana White:

ONE’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong also issued a separate memo to his employees that were being laid off. He spoke about a “sad,” “heart-wrenching” decision to let them go, noting how it’s necessary to ensure the company’s longevity, while also boasting and claiming to have a “strong balance sheet” and a “9-digit war chest” for the “billion-dollar” company.

Here’s a snippet from the letter obtained by Tech in Asia:

The world is suffering from the single worst economic crisis in a hundred years due to Covid-19. After weeks of consultation with both our leadership team and our board of directors, I have made the decision to future-proof ONE Championship by both streamlining operations and sharpening core strategic priorities.

It is one of the most heart-wrenching decisions I have ever had to make in life. On the one hand, ONE has a strong balance sheet with a 9-digit war chest after today’s new funding announcement. It puts us in the perfect position to continue aggressively building Asia’s largest global sports media property. On the other hand, these extraordinary times for the world require unusual prudence to protect our company and to ensure its longevity for many years to come. With the decision to sharpen our focus around core strategic priorities, ONE will undergo a 20% reduction in total worldwide headcount.

Josh Gross also spoke about the announcement, reporting that the layoffs go far beyond the 20% that ONE announced, with a figure “closer to 50% - 60% of its workers, which includes all freelance contractors.”

ONE spoke about COVID-19 and the economic crisis being the major reason for these layoffs. Like many companies, the MMA promotion has indeed been hit hard by the pandemic, and they haven’t hosted an event since February. That being said, their financial struggles date back years now.

As Bloody Elbow reported previously, documents that ONE themselves have filed with the Singapore government show massive losses that have increased each year. In 2018 alone, the company had losses of almost $59 million, with accumulated losses have amounted to a whopping $126 million.