Week in Review: Should the CEO be a chief pivoting officer?

  • Need for the CEO to lead way to experiment, test, take chances
  • For Wild Digital to be truly world-class, competitors need to be invited

Week in Review: Should the CEO be a chief pivoting officer?TRUST Catcha Group founder and chairman Patrick Grove to throw a great conference … and a loud after-conference party!
 
Sorry, did I say ‘after-conference’? I left out the conference day party! Not one to follow convention, Grove didn’t just have an after-conference party, but threw one on the first day itself, through his iflix video-on-demand startup.
 
In fact, that’s the first thing he told me at the conference. “We’re throwing a party tonight at Zeta Bar at 9pm, invite all your Digerati50,” said the play hard, work harder leader of the Catcha Group, also a two-time Digerati50.
 
And despite the conference attracting almost 600 participants, everyone would have noted the stressed-out look Grove had that first day. As it turns out, he was probably fretting over whether Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was going to make it for his conference on the second day.
 
It was not announced or known beforehand, and Najib’s appearance at Wild Digital – where he had a conversation with Grove on stage about disruption, digital and competitiveness – would undoubtedly have been the highlight.
 
Grove had kicked off the conference with a short keynote that was more a reflection of his journey as an entrepreneur and how persistence, people, passion, problem and pivots lay at the core of every successful entrepreneur.
 
Having failed in his first eight years as an entrepreneur, during which time he tried many things, Grove has come to believe that the key role of the chief executive is to boldly lead the company to experiment and take chances.
 
“… For me, the chief executive officer should be more of a ‘chief pivoting officer’,” he said.
 
My own highlight from the few sessions I attended – I had missed Grove’s opening ! – was the talk by Shaun Di Gregorio, founder of Frontier Digital Ventures, who had some fascinating observations on the economic potential that exists in frontier markets.
 
These are the less-developed countries that are eyeing to emulate the success of countries like Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, which have grown into middle-income countries from their low economic base over the last 30 years.
 
We may scoff at the prospects of any digital-based business model in those countries, with their extremely low PC penetration rates, poor broadband infrastructure and so on, but guess what? Looking beyond those limitations and focusing on the fact that citizens in those countries are jumping online via mobile, Gregorio and his Frontier Digital Ventures have funded startups that have registered 65% growth rates on average!
 
I also found Azmil Zahruddin Aziz’s participation interesting. The executive director of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, leading its venture capital arm, shared some of the things that he looks for when making investments. You can read that here.
 
But I want to end with one observation.
 
While attendees clearly enjoyed the conference, especially the networking, the one knock against Wild Digital is that it can be seen as a vehicle for Grove to promote many of his own Internet bets.
 
But actually, his own companies – whether previously-owned ones like iProperty or current ones like iflix – took up only three of the speaking slots this year, versus the larger role they had in the inaugural conference in 2015.
 
What would be fun next year though, would be to see some of the giant Chinese and Indian Internet players involved as well.
 
With that, I wish you a restful weekend and a productive week after.
 
Editor’s Picks:
 
Fuelled by e-commerce, Indonesia and Malaysia in top 5 of retail index
 
New MaGIC CEO rolls up his sleeves, ready to launch new stuff
 
Digitisation: It’s not just about technology, people!
 
AI and blockchain boost: IBM sets up world’s first Watson Centre in Singapore
 
The world of money and espionage: Not Bond, but data breaches
 
Startups, don’t knock the competition if you want Khazanah’s money
 
Will marriage of Windows gaming and Xbox One work?
 
 
Previous Instalments:
 
Week in Review: Adapting to the digital reality
 
Week in Review: Satya woos geeks in SEA

Week in Review: Singapore gets it about digital disruption

Week in Review: SMEs are digital laggards, but with good reason

Week in Review: Singapore welcomes a new telco

 
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