Thursday, February 08, 2007

Countdown

Hi guys. Apologies for being kinda silent at both my blogs for just about more than a week now. It's not that there isn't much to blog about, there's plenty. But it has been an extremely busy week or so, not helped by a little bit of writing fatigue (too much writing over the past two weeks, besides blogging), and the little girl catching a flu which resulted in pretty much sleepless nights.

Some of the stuff I've been hinting at has been set into irreversible motion over the past month. I can now tell you that last month, I've disposed of all the shares in the company which I personally founded. The company would be exactly 10 years old come this March.

When I started the company with just RM50,000 in capital, contributed by my own 2-years' life-savings (that can't be much), a little contribution from my parents, a little from an ex-client, an ex-colleague and my brother-in-law. That was March 1997, when everything information technology was extremly rosy in Kuala Lumpur. Little did I know, that within 3 months of starting operations, the Thai baht crashed, bring about practically some 2 and a half years growth via living hand-to-mouth (or something like that! ;)).

With a little luck, I managed to secure a intermediate venture capital funding of RM1 million at the end of 1999. We continued to grow significantly by taking on larger and more complex projects as e-business and general information technology spend increased.

Then at the end of 2000, in the middle of the insane dotcom boom, lady luck smiled on us again. A new boutique investment bank was set up in Singapore with an aggressive appetite for listing small-medium enterprises. I was introduced to them by an investment advisor friend, David Fong (thank you, David) when they were in town scouting for listing candidates.

I was asked to present my company and business the next day, and within 2 weeks, they said they could take my company public in Singapore. It was a little unbelievable then, as I really didn't think we were "ready" for it.

We aren't a big company then, but that was a little window period whereby Singapore was actually encouraging small entrepreneurial firms to raise capital from the markets. Today, even though we are substantially larger now (but we are still relatively speak, a small company ;)), listing in Singapore would have been impossible as their focus now is really on larger cap listings. Hence, I'm certainly thankful that I agreed to the listing offer then.

By August 2001, we got our company listed on the Singapore Exchange. We were the first Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) company to be listed in Singapore. And at 29 years old then, I was the youngest CEO of a listed company in Singapore. The overwhelming bulk of our operations continued to be in Kuala Lumpur, hence essentially we were tapping capital in Singapore to fund our business in Malaysia.

The timing couldn't have been any "better". Within two weeks of listing, it was September 11th, and the global markets tanked. Had I not been listed before that, I might not have listed at all for the listing exercise might have been aborted.

Despite having listed the company, it was no bed of roses. We faced the economic repercussions of the September 11 tragedy, followed by the pan-Asian SARS epidemic as well as the tech bust. Of course, it wasn't helped by the fact we made 1-2 "naive" acquisitions as well as defaulting payments from clients in the early 2000s. A Berjaya Group subsidiary owed us more than RM2 million and refused to pay up despite having successfully secured a court judgement (they wound themselves up).

All the while however, as many of our peer competitors dwindled, we held up and are now one of the leading players in the business. We believe we have clearly turned the corner in 2006, having consolidated the business in 2004/5 and the future definitely "appears" bright for the company in 2007. ;)

But now, I've sold my shares in the company. Could I have obtained more from such a sale had I waited for another year or two or more as the company rides the upturn? Yes, most likely so. But life really isn't just about making more money.

There comes a time when you've got to put your foot down and say that it's "enough". I'm not a serial entrepreneur, hence I've no intention of starting another corporate business. I'm a huge admirer of Tony Fernandes, but I have no interest in working as hard as he does. (Yes, I'm a lazy git ;))

Now there's just a few more loose ends to tie up. Will keep you guys updated, so watch this space! ;)

34 comments:

Trashed said...

Thanks for sharing, Tony.

Anonymous said...

yah, your adventure makes for a good story... :) all these close calls you described make it sound like some thriller :)

hoping for the same success! :P :)

Maverick SM said...

Tony,

My observation is that you made the right decision. You said life is not just about money, but you are wrong; it is! But you did made it right to call it a day when you are up, and bouncy. Cash out before you crash out. Life is about money, but money isn't money until you cash out and then use it for a fruitful purpose and sustainable purpose with long term outlook and stability. This is about risk management and ensuring that the family need not continue to be put at risk and uncertainty. Many are rich in their balance sheet, not in handy position. Get out now, and make your life worthwhile with what you have deservedly gain, and hold on to the wealth investing in near-zero risk investments with part and use the other part to realise dreams of your life.
Cheerio the winner who quits when he gains.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. May be you can be my mentor. I am an independent software developer trying to market my first software to a few countries in Asia and Europe.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You're now a millionaire!! (not that you were not, only that now it's not in paper but real dollars)

I believe from the deal, you got easily S$500k after tax, considering that you owned at least 10 million shares in Cyber Village. The transaction for the past month peaked at 8 cent (80 mil) and 4 cent (40 mil).

Well done, my friend. We need more of people like you - good example for the young ones.

I believe I'll be seeing more of you in the politics arena.

Mark Eleven

Anonymous said...

well, I guest it was not an easy decision!! envy your courage!! wish I could do the same too... not that I will walk away with millions of ringgit but to venture into something new. all the best!
Peace, alison

Anonymous said...

I agreed with Aviva.

The fact is The CyberVillage begin to lose after the burble of dotcom burst. It is not a sustainable business with fierce competition while customers are more informed and educated on IT.

Jeffooi does not check on the fact right. It is a case where one blogger boosting another blogger.

This is a worried situation in Malaysia right now where most of us praise and support something without ascertain the fact.

We just follow like sheeps

Anonymous said...

you certainly ventured further than a lot of ex-people at our common old place, tony.

you may not remember me, though.

go to China; that's the place where all the action will be for the rest of this century.

neil

Anonymous said...

Tony Pua must be worth at least RM$10 million if not more.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Ooi is an idiot. He is a journalist wannabe. You disgree with him, he bans you.

Anonymous said...

Tony,
How about investing in my company?
It is not a Dot. Com company.

My proposed company transport precious human cargo from the borders into major towns in Malaysia

Ipoh mali!
hehe

Anonymous said...

Tony ,

You have "accidentally" deleted the comment by Aviva .

He /she showed us a link stated that Cybervillage has been losing ...

http://www.cyber-village.net/inv_rel/web/annual_reports.htm

Please do not delete my commnet

Anonymous said...

Tony Pua want to go into politics kah??

Just because you became the youngest CEO does not mean you have what it takes to be a politician. By the way, who are these idiots who keep track of stuff like this....youngest CEO listed in Singapore etc....

Do they also have a list for CEO with least hair on their balls?

Anonymous said...

How Jeff Ooi can be related to this entry? What's the context?

Practise your idiotic philosophy else where la, muthaf**kas.

Anonymous said...

Tony , I visited you blog previously and remmbered there was an entry by Aviva. I remembered that he mentioned that The Cybervillage has not been doing well since 2001. He even showed us the URL to downlaod your company annual reports

Where is the entry now ? I am sure that you have deleted it.

Are you become another Jeffooi who start to delete or bar other comments.

To answer to the previous post, this is the situation where Jeffooi can be related to this entry . Understand ?

Anonymous said...

Why you all jealous TP becomes millionaire?
Irrespective cybervillage is on the decline, wat is impt TP becomes millionaire!

Unknown said...

Yes, I did delete the post by Aviva.

But as you can tell in both blogs I am more than able to take criticisms and potshots of the personal kind, even if they are defamatory in nature. ;)

However, when a comment involves the well-being of others not related to this blog, for example employees of the company which I formerly owned, then I will not hesitate to delete them. They should not have to suffer just because I choose to blog.

At the end of the day, this is also my personal blog, in a way my home. So if you need to spray graffitti, I'm not stopping those would like to, to spray it somewhere else.

;) Tony

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Your response to my first commment seems to be a poor dirty political trick.

Use it against other politicians when you are in the arena if you wish. But not on me, an average citizen who will go to vote for you or againt you one day. I'm harmless.

Great weekend and cheers!

Aviva

Anonymous said...

Tony,as for you and the rest of the bloggers like Jeffooi, you all advocate truth and fact.

Aviva only highlighted that Cybervillage is losing money..it is a fact. You annouce that you are going to sell all your shares, it is a fact as well. So what harm had Aviva done ?

Be logical when comes to argue !

Anonymous said...

Tony,

I have to said I'm surprise with your reaction againts my first and second comments.

It just stated the fact cybervillage is lossing money and you are selling off your shares.

And further, these information is available from both your own blog and your own company website...

cheers up Tony! And stop mislead reader like my comments is going to do any harm to you and people around you..

Again, I'm just an average people from the street and have no intention of offence you.. be prepared for the real game in politics.. but frankly, I have doubt on your ability.

I heard of you from jeffooi yesterday, I know more about you today. I have to admit I'm disappointed.


Aviva

Anonymous said...

Join DAP TP!
They are waiting for you with open arms!

Anonymous said...

btw, for readers information, both my first comments and second comments are deleted by Tony.

Aviva

Anonymous said...

I am not surprise that Aviva posts were taken down as it might affect Tony personal gain.

Ironically , the previous entry of Tony's Blog is about " Silencing Cyberspace"

But unfortunately , Aviva was silent twice by Tony.

May be Tony and Jeffooi should joinly publish another blog name "Terminator Part-4 - The Rise of Comment Eraser"

Goodnight and well fought , Aviva

Anonymous said...

Lets be fair to Tony, and keep away from emotional personal attacks. Even though Cyber Village has lost money previously, in 2006 it has gone back into black.

And remember, Cyber Village has been around for close to 10 years now, and was able to survive the ups as well as the downs of dot-com bust. Many other IT firms have long gone into oblivion. That itself shows some admirable skills, which I think not easily found on anyone else.

I had personally known Tony and I can say he's a very much likable person. I wish him success in politics, which IMO, will be a much tougher environment, but I believe he's able to succeed well.

Give Tony a chance to prove himself before shooting him.

Mark Eleven

Wye Jon said...

Hey Tony... not sure if you remember me (or if you even know who I am :)) but best of luck to ya... For what it's worth you already have my vote.

Anonymous said...

Mark Eleven,

I don't know Tony. No personal attack sentiment at all.

Aviva

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Informtion that available for public is the information that we publicly comment , unless it is classified

in this case , the annual reports of Cybervillage are available for download, then .. what had Aviva done to deserve his comments that for public consumption , being deleted twice.

Whether Tony is successful or brillaint or the youngest businessman is not relevant to the isssue of comment deletion .

Think critically , out there , human ..

Daniel S.H. said...

All the best to you, Tony!
Btw, really glad to see you in the recent forum. :)

With lotsa respect, Daniel.

Anonymous said...

[please delete this after reading]

Tony, you may want to move to new blog, where commentator need to register before commenting. Learn from Raja Petra blog, Malaysia-Today.

Like that if there are people trying to hijack your blog, you can "catch" them.

Anonymous said...

http://jameswongwingon-online.blogspot.com/
learn from him too,
soldier on.

zewt said...

reading this post brings much hope to me, one who is fast losing hope for this forsaken land. dunno if you're for real. all i can do is hope.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Good, you have made it, and you have the courage to cash out and start on a new life. It will not be easy, but I give due recognition to the fact that you are ready to move out of your comfort zone.

However, instead of staying in this country and contributing to this place, have you ever considered moving out into another 'more comfortable' country somewhere else ? Don't you think that this place has too much weaknesses and 'lackings' ?

However, I do not doubt that it takes time for a place to grow, and Malaysia will take a very long time to achieve this, because of the background and the culture of this country.

What do you think ?

Just a thought : Would you just want to contribute to this country, or would you want to contribute to the people of the world as a whole ? Do not forget that (based on your descriptions thus far), it is NOT really Malaysia who has helped you. ......

To me, a few good things about Malaysia : it is cheap, enforcements are lacking, competition is not too great and sorry to say this too : the general population is not that smart yet.

Anonymous said...

I don't think so, Don't disgrace malaysian people. TP had thrown all of his "marvellous" effort since the last 10++ years just to be near with Malaysian people because of what he think he should do. At least he contribute something to Malaysian (although this is'nt the best country ever - so to speak) compare to some ppl (Malaysian - sadly) who just know to talk and comments for the rest of his life. Stand up and see beyond. Redeem your rights as a citizen. Who are u if u are not Malaysian?