Week in Review: The hurt from ‘losing’ Grab still felt in Malaysia

  • Malaysian govt pushes for its GLCs to invest/partner with startups
  • 500 Startups invests in VR business with a very Brick&Mortar model

AS Malaysia and Indonesia gear up for their Hari Raya festivities this weekend into next week, the digital economy has been busy spreading its tentacles into both countries.

In Malaysia, a new 5-way public sector initiative aims at becoming the go to platform for startups, scaleups and government linked funds and companies to come together and benefit from the linkages. What’s interesting about this still unbranded platform is the recognition that government linked companies can benefit from partnering with startups and should invest into the startup ecosystem. [A bit of trivia. The headline to this article also happens to be the longest ever on DNA! Not something I am proud of.]

I will be keen to see if this 5-way collaboration, with Minister-level leadership, can become the catalyst for GLCs to start partnering with startups in a more meaningful manner.

The press release that came out was interesting in that it made mention of the need to invest in promising startups to avoid them seeking funding overseas and moving their operations out of the country then.

I think the hurt from losing the branding that would have come with Grab’s funding and regional expansion still haunts the Malaysian government. Nobody wants to see another promising startup grow from Malaysia but bloom into a unicorn on the back of global funding and moving its base overseas.

Ironically though, Grab’s main operations are still based in Malaysia and as a matter of fact, are a stone’s throw from where I am typing out this week’s column.

But Grab is also a large employer in Indonesia, a country it is determined to win in, and with other large startups there and many small ones aspiring to be large, it is no surprise that there are plenty of digital based jobs there.

Too bad no one on Indonesia tracks the tech sector’s salaries as how Pikom, the National ICT Association of Malaysia does because the comparison’s would be interesting and would help overseas startups better plan for their market expansion into the region.  

The 2016 report for average ICT salaries still shows a growing trend, increasing from US$1,892 (RM8,114) in 2015 to US$1,977 (RM8,484) in 2016. However, the overall salary growth rate of 4.6% in 2016 makes it by far the lowest growth since 2009.

Week in Review: The hurt from ‘losing’ Grab still felt in Malaysia

I would expect salaries to start growing at a higher clip, powered by the increasing demand for digital related skills.

Meanwhile, 500 Startups adds to its portfolio of companies by making an undisclosed investment into Malaysian virtual reality (VR) company, Havson Group. What’s interesting here is that this is very much a Brick&Mortar business! Havson, whom we have covered before, started life as a mobile indie game developer before ambitiously moving into VR.

Speaking of gaming and VR, do get your tickets to attend DNA’s eGames Festival, HotShotz, where you will get to experience VR in the gaming world and can check out 10 indie games publishers who will be showcasing their games. There will also be a PC modding and Cosplay competition and the finals of our eSports competition as well with teams battling to be champions in the seven game titles we are hosting. There’s more going on, so check out the HotShotz Asia website!

And before I sign off, and let you enjoy the festive weekend, GEM, the Global Entrepreneurship Movement has started living up to its globalizing entrepreneurship ambitions by appointing GEM champions to spread the word and act as cross border connectors for entrepreneurs.

It was a James Bond-ish entrance by the GEM champions from 7 countries, as they taxied up to the press conference venue in a propeller plane with a beaming GEM patron Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Irwan also announced the launch of the US$100,000 (RM428,000) prize money for ColossusINNO2017 where he told me and my colleague, “Personally, I want a breakthrough creation that will really push the whole ecosystem.”

Let’s hope he gets his wish, because it is the ecosystem that will benefit.

It was our first meeting since my critical GEM commentary from a few months back and I have to say, Irwan was cool about it now and focused on moving forward. And that’s the kind of mentality that will drive the digital ecosystem to greater heights.

Here’s wishing all our Muslim readers a Merry Raya festivities and safe drive to their home towns. And of course, have a productive week after the break.

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Editor’s Picks

A new (virtual) reality dawns for Havson Group

GEM creates regional links, launches global challenge for Asean

Bridging the Asian and Nordic fintech ecosystems

Rising job opportunities in Indonesia’s digital realm

5 party collaboration kicks off to create more efficient funding, pitching platform in Malaysia

Pikom: ICT salaries in Malaysia grow at slower pace yet again

iProperty looks to innovate property search by “democratising data”

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