Karamjit: My Fave 5 of 2014

  • Andrew Bassat, biggest entrepreneur to appear on DNA, is top pick
  • First interview from Axiata CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim another high

Karamjit: My Fave 5 of 2014LOOKING back over the 100 plus articles I wrote last year, to find my personal favourite five was not as easy as I thought.
 
But when I decided that I should make my five picks based on their impact on me rather than the ecosystem, things fell into place and I was able to narrow the list of stories down to 10 … and after sleeping on it, was able to pick my fave five.
 
My favourite article of the year was the story I did on Andrew Bassat, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Australian job portal SEEK Inc.
 
Having just completed SEEK’s acquisition of the Internet assets of JobStreet Bhd, I was eager to speak to Bassat to find out what his plans were moving forward.
 
At the same time, it was also exciting to speak to him because he is the biggest entrepreneur I have interviewed for Digital News Asia (DNA). SEEK is already the largest global online employment marketplace by revenue, earnings, and market capitalization.
 
So what did I learn from my chat with him? That by setting the highest aspirational goal for the company to achieve – “Delivering the perfect search experience” – he is ensuring SEEK focuses on execution and beating the competition.
 
As he said, matter-of-fact, “If we can deliver that perfect search experience, or come close to it, why would a SEEK user want to switch to another site?”
 
He also used a word no other CEO had used in their conversations with me last year when talking about company strategy – obsessed.
 
“We are obsessed with this,” he said of SEEK’s desire to deliver the perfect job search. I am hoping to see that same fierce focus on meeting a target set in some of the conversations I will have this year with entrepreneurs.
 
Speaking about Bassat leads me naturally to talk about my next favourite story, that of Mark Chang’s plans for JobStreet after the acquisition by Bassat’s SEEK.
 
Karamjit: My Fave 5 of 2014This does not make my list just because DNA getting the first dibs on his plans was a scoop. International news agencies were chasing him for the exclusive as well.
 
It makes my list because the interview was done in the coolest location of any interview I have ever conducted – right in the heart of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
We were both in New York for the October 2014 listing of Ganesh Kumar Bangah’s MOL Global on Nasdaq. There were a few hours of free time before a celebratory dinner and Chang asked me what I wanted to do.
 
I told him I wanted visit the Metropolitan Museum but I also wanted to get my interview with him, and he said, “Let’s do both!”
 
So off we went to the museum to soak in some history and for me to get my exclusive. The picture you see on the right is of Chang in the foyer of the museum.
 
Next is another big name, this time in the telco space. My colleague Goh Thean Eu and I managed to get an interview with the president and group chief executive officer of Axiata Group Bhd, Jamaludin Ibrahim.
 
As we sat down for our hour-long chat, Jamaludin remarked that this was the first time he was sitting down with the media to talk about Axiata’s digital strategy. He had wanted to wait until there was some substantial progress before sharing an update.
 
I was thus thrilled to hear that he felt DNA was an important enough publication for him to give us first dibs of Axiata’s game plan.
 
Here was one of the leading telco chiefs in the world, Axiata is one of the largest telcos in the world in terms of total subscribers, with over 250 million, and he gives a small niche media outlet like DNA his first interview on Axiata’s digital game plan.
 
For me, it was just the latest validation that DNA is one the right path to becoming a respected and credible tech media publication.
 
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