Nazrin Hassan frets over trend of startups raising money overseas
Badlisham Ghazali leaves MDeC after 7 years to run airports business
I FIRST wrote about Dr Gabriel Walter, cofounder and chief executive officer (CEO) of optical laser company, Quantum Electro Opto Systems Sdn Bhd (QEOS) in Sept 2009 and have been following his progress with much interest over the years.
DNA readers will know that QEOS is one of the very few high-tech Malaysian companies. And while this has helped Walter raise over US$10 million (RM32 million) in Malaysia since 2008 when QEOS was launched.
[RM1 = US$0.31]
He is struggling to raise his current large round, in the US$30 million to US$40 million, from Malaysia and may just have to go overseas for it.
As patriotic as Walter, who wears his patriotism on his sleeves, is, even he acknowledges that he will have no problems in accepting the funding, no matter where it comes from.
After all, the technology world is borderless, and as much as it bothers Nazrin Hassan, Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd CEO, that our better startups are raising funding from Singapore, I know it does not bother the startups who need the ammunition the funding provides. And it no longer bothers me either.
You don’t become any less Malaysian by taking money from Singapore-based investors and when you do make it big, the Malaysian ecosystem can still bask in the glow of their success. Mark Chang exiting JobStreet is the most recent example.
He has been based in Singapore for over 10 years now, focusing on its regional footprint, yet his success with JobStreet is very much a Malaysian success.
And then we have the example of Andrew Tiang, the founder and CEO of N2N Connect Bhd, a real-time trading platform company that he launched in 2000 and is listed in Bursa Malaysia and recently announced that a Japanese company had taken a US$33 million stake in N2N. I am sure the news was greeted with equal excitement in Singapore too because Tiang is Singaporean.
Until we see major macroeconomic changes in the country, we have to accept that Malaysia is going to be a feeder club, to use a football analogy since the World Cup is around the corner, to Singapore.
Being a long suffering Arsenal fan, Nazrin will be very familiar with this reality as his club, at one time, was well known for luring away many of the best rising young stars from Europe to join Arsenal. Cesc Fabregas being the crowning example of this approach.
But back to Walter, and his most recent move to strengthen QEOS by acquiring the talent and Intellectual Property assets of Silicon Valley based Centric Solutions LLC for up to US$40 million!
After MOL Global taking a stake in Rixty.com in October 2012, this is only the second time a Malaysian company has made a Silicon Valley acquisition.
And as I wrote this week, not only does this move announce QEOS’ ambitions to be a global Internet of Things (IoT) leader and US billion dollar company, but the sheer possibilities of innovation and disruptive business models that could arise from the smart people of QEOS and Centric meshing together is what excites Walter and his chairman, Dr Raymond Chin.
QEOS has always been an exciting company for me to follow and I look forward to many more exciting announcements from them, which, by the way, you will likely read first on Digital News Asia (DNA).
As Walter shared on BFM this week when he was my guest on our Tech Talk segment, DNA was the first to break the acquisition news!
We were also the first, yesterday at 2pm, to break the news of Badlisham Ghazali leaving Multimedia Development Corporation to join MAHB as its CEO.
When I first heard the murmurs last month I was tempted to write an editorial urging Badlisham to stay on and complete the job of helping transition Malaysia to a digital economy via the Digital Malaysia initiative that MDeC and he have been entrusted to lead.
But I held back, realising that he has been the captain of this ship for seven years and perhaps wanted a fresh challenge.
So let’s just wish him all the best as he starts going toe to toe with Tony Fernandes, thank him for his service to the ecosystem and hope that MAHB becomes one of the most IT driven airport operators in the world.
All you MSC Malaysia companies with solutions and services that can help MAHB, start making a beeline for Badlisham’s new office!
And let’s hope MDeC gets a dynamic, passionate and driven new CEO – and soon!
Finally, and understandanly, this week’s most read article was MDeC CEO Badlisham quits to take over beleaguered MAHB.
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