Digerati50: CC Puan positions for his next big bets

  • Opportunities in media play through the home, driverless automotives and payment space
  • Tremendous innovation happening all over, looking at a longer term horizon, investing in gaps

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles the 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2018-2019 (Vol 3), a special print publication released in March 2018. The digital version can be downloaded from the link at the top right corner of the page thanks to the sponsorship of The Center of Applied Data Science (CADS) ASEAN's first and only one-stop platform and center of excellence for Data Science.

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THE risk taker says he has learnt his lesson. “I am very prudent after past lessons learnt from P1. I now give directions and let my management team make the decisions,” says Puan Chan Cheong better known as CC Puan, the founder of Green Packet Bhd. “I think it complements the entrepreneurial risk taking and vision with a prudent risk mitigation approach adopted by professional managers,” he says.

A repeat DNA Digerati50, few tech entrepreneurs in Malaysia have had as storied a background as CC a tech entrepreneur who grew up in a rubber plantation in Johor, with nine other siblings.

The reference to P1 is because he had to sell a majority stake in the WiMAX operator as investor confidence in his ability to disrupt the multi billion telco establishment through his WiMAX platform, waned.

And though he was retained as CEO after that March 2014 deal, he eventually left in late 2016 and famously took a three month sabbatical, meditating in the Himalayas. It was the fulfillment of a life-long dream for him. It also gave him the precious chance to detach from the proverbial rat race he has been involved in since 1999.

Suffice to say he came back recharged in early 2017 and is now concentrating on his role as non-executive chairman of listed G3 Global Bhd, a clothing retailer and IoT solutions provider and non-independent and non-executive director in Green Packet.

And though he claims to be more prudent now, he has still set three big themes around which his listed companies will play in and in which he is looking to build an ecosystem that helps him capture value.

“There is tremendous innovation happening all over and in order to have a significant impact on digital transformation, we need to look at a longer term horizon and invest in gaps we see in the ecosystem,” he says.

Green Packet will be playing in three areas: In media but through the home, in the driverless automotive space and in the payment space.

In the media space it got a huge boost last month when Green Packet won the contract to supply up to 3.6 million set-top boxes to MYTV, which is tasked with rolling out digital terrestrial TV (DTTV) services nationwide with the boxes to be given out free to Malaysians in the lower income B40 group.

This immediately gives Green Packet access to 3.6 million Malaysian households and over 15 million potential viewers with CC describing the deal as a “game changer”.

Just as the telcos started losing voice traffic to over the top players, with CC experiencing this at P1, he already sees consumers starting to get their video content through streaming services. Even though the households may be from the lower income, as people get serious about viewing streaming services, they will pay he believes.

Green Packet won the MyTV deal by offering them set-top boxes which come with higher specs than specified in the contract, including connectivity, support for OTT and data monitoring capability on usage behaviour.

“We are going to be in all these homes now. The challenge is to figure out how to drive more digital services to users and then monetize them.”

With his entry into households assured through his set-top box media play, CC next aims to invest big in the future of the automotive sector when driverless cars become a reality, believing that the next operating system fight will be over cars. “An entirely new ecosystem and revenue models will spring up around cars when they get smart. There will be many applications that we can’t imagine today,” he enthuses.

“We are identifying a few projects that will have the same impact as our MyTV deal,” he says. One of the options could be a joint venture with a Chinese company to access it technology or business model knowhow in return for providing them market access in Malaysia.

The focus on payment is really to support the media and automotive businesses. “Digitisation can only happen if the country has a very good payments infrastructure and we aim to make it easy to consumers to purchase our products and services easily,” he says.

Expect other entrepreneurs to make the trek to the Himalayas to clear their minds if CC’s ecosystem bet on the home, media and autonomous cars pays off.

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