No one sponsored Marco Polo's travels in Asia. He traveled with his uncle, Maffeo, and his father, Niccolo, to learn how to become a merchant.
The Mongol leader Kublai Khan met Niccolo and Maffeo during their previous travels. He was interested in Christianity, so the brothers brought priests on their next trading trip with Marco. The priests turned back, but Marco Polo reached the court of Kublai Khan after four years. Eventually, Khan employed him as a special envoy, sending him to places in Asia that Europeans had never seen before. When he returned home after more than 23 years, he wrote a book about his travels.