Ex-P1 CEO Michael Lai joins Singapore’s upstart telco MyRepublic
By Karamjit Singh May 22, 2015
- Help with funding, expand into new markets in Malaysia, Cambodia
- Described as ‘a spectacular win for us’ by MyRepublic CEO Rodrigues
“IT is a spectacular win for us and I am thrilled,” Malcolm Rodrigues (pic), founder and chief executive officer of Singapore-based fixed broadband provider MyRepublic, told Digital News Asia (DNA) on seasoned telco veteran Michael Lai joining his team.
“I used to worry about Malaysia, but now with Lai in charge of our fund-raising and new market entry, I don’t worry about Malaysia anymore. He knows everybody in the market and our Malaysia business plan will go very well with him at the helm,” said Rodrigues.
Malaysian Lai joins MyRepublic, a disruptive broadband player that started out in Singapore in 2011 and entered the New Zealand market late last year, as its chief development officer.
Besides helping with fund-raising, Lai will be responsible for MyRepublic’s entry into Malaysia and Cambodia. The company is also entering the Australian market soon.
Lai was with an Indonesian broadband player, Innovate Indonesia, before joining MyRepublic. [Edited for accuracy.]
Prior to that, he had various leadership roles in Malaysia, moving from a marketing role with IT vendor Oracle Corp before joining mobile player Celcom as its senior vice president in 2002.
In 2005 he took on his first chief executive officer (CEO) role when he moved to run the leading Internet service provider (ISP) in Malaysia, TM Net, a subsidiary of the dominant fixed-line player Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM).
Ditching his corporate orange tie and suit for black jeans and tees, he left in 2007 to join startup WiMAX player Packet One Networks Sdn Bhd (P1).
It was during his seven years (2007-2013) with P1 that Lai came into his own, leading a challenger player against his previous company TM, coming out with various edgy marketing campaigns and leading P1 with drive, enthusiasm and energy.
Indeed when he left P1, DNA cofounder Edwin Yapp wrote an opinion piece describing Lai (pic) “as a straight-shooter – honest in his opinions, often bright and cheery, with the boundless energy of a man half his age.”
In that same article he quotes Lai explaining why he left TM Net, part of a large established company, to join P1.
“It’s not the size of the company but rather the responsibilities that come with the job that matter. If I were to sum it up in one word, it would be ‘Challenge.’ ... I’m consistently looking to break new barriers.
“This is what keeps me going and my adrenaline flowing – to be in the forefront and the coming age of the next big thing,” he said then.
Having joined MyRepublic, clearly Lai feels offering blazing fast fibre broadband at a fraction of the costs of incumbent players is what will get his adrenaline racing. And he knows he will find a receptive market in Malaysia.
As Michael Lai leaves, what next for P1?
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