2024 Impact 50 Honoree: Ariel Emanuel

Endeavor and TKO

FIRST JOB AFTER COLLEGE: Professional racquetball player
Assistant to the legendary Robert Lantz

Ari Emanuel

Endeavor and TKO CEO Ariel Emanuel leads what is nothing less than an empire in the entertainment industry.
Consider what’s under the Endeavor umbrella: agency WME (itself the result of a merger shepherded by Emanuel in 2009 between William Morris and Endeavor Talent, of which he was a founding partner); sports operations and advisory, event management, media production and distribution, and brand licensing giants IMG; live events experiences and hospitality provider On Location; marketing firm 160over90; and sports data company OpenBet.

Oh, and then there’s TKO, the combat sports behemoth majority owned by Endeavor and formed by the 2023 merger of mixed martial arts promotion UFC and global pro wrestling leader WWE.
Just manning the helm of these two companies would be enough to earn Emanuel his Impact 50 spot, but he’s not merely keeping the ship in the channel: he’s leading it through challenging seas and into uncharted waters.

In October 2023, he shrewdly recognized that Endeavor was being undervalued by Wall Street investors, and announced a “formal review” to “evaluate strategic alternatives.” In response, Silver Lake — the private equity firm that held a significant, though not controlling interest in the company — indicated it would explore taking Endeavor private.

Emanuel’s sense that Endeavor’s stock was trading below value proved right in April 2024 when Silver Lake announced it would buy out remaining shares in Endeavor at a 55 percent premium, an equity value of $13 billion. That deal is expected to close in Q1 of 2025. TKO will remain publicly traded.

Thirteen billion dollars is a big number, but Endeavor and TKO have posted some other eye-poppers in the live space: WME has booked more than 70,000 shows since the beginning of 2023; WWE, now in its most critically and commercially successful period in 25 years, held 226 live events from April 2023 to April 2024, selling 2.1 million tickets in 164 cities in 12 countries; UFC sold out 26 of its last 32 events; and PBR drew 1.25 million bull riding fans to events across the world.