Digerati50: Aiming to be disruptive … again

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues a weekly series that profiles the top 50 influencers, movers and shakers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy. These articles are from Digerati50, a special print publication released in January 2014. For information on customised reprints of Digerati50, email [email protected].

  • First venture, a set-top box company, crashed in the dotcom bust
  • Boosted by MyEG’s success, now an angel
Digerati50: Aiming to be disruptive … again

NO matter what he does now, T.S. Wong already cemented his place in Malaysian tech history back in 1999, when at the age of 26, he undertook a reverse takeover of an over-the-counter (OTC) company in the United States.
 
Those were heady days for his set-top box company MyWeb, especially since he was riding on the China play. There was a lot of hype over how set-top boxes were going to disrupt the traditional broadcasting industry.
 
As he recalls, “We were a company which had interesting growth potential but minimal operating cash-flow. This was alright when we were in the bubble as investors kept pouring in money to sustain the bleeding, but it came to an abrupt crash once the bubble burst,” referring to the dotcom bust in April 2000.
 
He may have failed in his attempt to be disruptive but he learned something. “My biggest lesson – I now always ensure my core business generates enough operating cash-flow to sustain any cash-draining projects. Cash-flow is king.”
 
Fourteen years later, at the age of 41, that itch to be disruptive still burns within him and is manifesting itself in two interesting ways.
 
In October 2013, Wong agreed to pump RM20 million into a RM60-million seed fund, Cradle Seed Ventures Fund 1, to be established by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance.

[RM1 = US$0.29]
 
The money is being invested by MyEG Services Bhd, the listed company Wong is cofounder and managing director of, with Cradle putting in RM40 million.
 
“I am excited about ventures on the leading edge, so I look for entrepreneurs who are working on the next big thing where the 800-pound gorilla does not exist yet,” says the computer science graduate.
 
Those entrepreneurs had better be prepared to put shoulder to the wheel. Wong believes that the key thing entrepreneurs should be doing, after they take money from any investor is, to work hard.
 
While in this instance, he plans on living his disruptive dream through the entrepreneurs he will be investing in, he is also planning to take the plunge with MyEG.
 
He has spoken about his intentions to grow MyEG into a global player in the machine-to-machine (M2M) market, with the possibility of investing anywhere between RM500 million and RM1 billion to develop this segment. He believes that Web 3.0 could be about ‘The Internet of Things.’
 
Clearly excited about the possibilities, he says, “We think the opportunity is there to establish ourselves as a leading M2M solutions player.”
 
He plans to use the Malaysian market as the platform to showcase what MyEG can do. Two M2M solutions are being developed for launch next year.
 
After keeping low for a number of years, Wong emerged back in the ecosystem in 2011 through his reality TV pitching show, Make The Pitch.
 
The 2011 winner was Fadzli Shah Anuar, founder of Voucheres. In 2012, Fadzarudin Shah Anuar and his wife Vivy Yusof received RM1 million for their e-commerce site, FashionValet.net. Incidentally, Fadzli and Fadzarudin are brothers.
 
Admitting that he tends to get bored while waiting for MyEG projects to be implemented, Wong enjoys his role as a corporate angel to keep himself engaged and challenged as he helps build the companies he has invested in.
 
Investing in MyEG is also apparently a good bet. Brokerage house CIMB Research issued a report in September 2013 advising investors to invest in the company, describing its outlook as “exciting with potential new projects in the pipeline.”
 
Its share price has more than doubled in the past one year on the back of continued earnings growth and as of Nov 8 2013, had a market capitalisation of RM1.4 billion. For the year to June 30, 2013, net earnings hit RM35 million.

 
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