Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at Razer Southeast Asia Headquarters Opening Ceremony on 26 October 2021.
Mr Tan Min-Liang,
CEO and Co-Founder of Razer,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good evening. I am happy to be back here after 2 ½ years. Back in early 2019, I was here to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of Razer’s new Southeast Asia Headquarters.
Today, we have before us a striking high-tech and eco-friendly building. This new premise will house office space, R&D labs and design studios for more than 1,000 employees, as Razer seeks to expand in the region.
Over the last three years, Razer has grown significantly. Revenue has more than doubled. The company is offering an increasingly wider range of gaming peripherals and solutions.
Razer has come a long way since your founding in 2005. While you are a global company, the company has strong Singapore roots. Your journey from a two-man start-up to a multi-billion dollar tech company has been an inspiration for many budding entrepreneurs. The official opening today marks yet another milestone in your rapid growth.
As you officially open your new Southeast Asia Headquarters, I took the opportunity to reflect on what has made Razer successful; and how we can better help our start-ups realise their potential, and empower our companies to succeed.
Let me cite three lessons, which can be summarised in three words – Seed, Innovate, Scale.
The first lesson is the access to seed capital and the support to help start-ups grow from “zero to one”.
Razer started off with funding from fifteen angel investors, mainly from Singapore and the region. The initial capital and mentorship of these investors gave Razer a strong start. You went on to raise almost US$200million – including from established venture capital firms – before your eventual listing.
The start-up scene in Singapore was nascent then. Access to venture capital was more limited, and there were few mentors or role models. In fact, few Singaporeans wanted to be an entrepreneur. So in many ways, Min-Liang bucked the trend.
Our determined effort over the years has enabled Singapore to grow into a vibrant start-up eco-system. Today, we have almost 3,500 start-ups in Singapore, with over 200 incubators and accelerators and many more investors. Apart from Razer, we have produced a number of tech unicorns, with many other promising start-ups on the way.
Through Startup SG, we support our entrepreneurs in every stage of their journey – from mentorship and start-up capital for first-time entrepreneurs, to helping them source for talent and scaffolding deep tech commercialisation.
The Government also aims to catalyse greater private sector investments, by co-investing with venture capitalists through SEEDS Capital and EDBI.
Through this eco-system of support, we hope to enable more entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and help them turn their ideas into fruition.
The second lesson is the commitment to innovation. Razer started off as a single product company – as a maker of gaming mice. But you did not stop there. You continued to improve on your products and expand into new offerings – including laptops, monitors, gaming chairs and even FinTech.
What has underpinned your success is your commitment to R&D. Over the past few years, you have invested, on average, 8% of your annual revenue in R&D. To date, Razer has more than 1200 patents and patent applications, as well as more than 550 design applications and registrations.
You continue to push new frontiers, working in collaboration with other stakeholders. One example is Razer’s partnership with Singtel and IMDA to launch Singapore’s first 5G cloud gaming trial, the nation’s first consumer use-case for 5G.
You have also started your corporate investment arm – zVentures. The investments made include online fraud management solution Shield and autonomous café solutions Ratio. I look forward to visiting the Razer Café, which uses Ratio’s autonomous robotic arm for coffee making later.
Min-Liang also serves on the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council, which sets the strategic direction for our national R&D efforts. The commitment to innovation is a rallying call I have consistently made to our companies. For our economy to continue to thrive, we need our companies – large and small – to continue to innovate and invest in R&D.
It is important for our larger firms to build up a deeper stack of intellectual property and intangible assets, and turn these into competitive advantages. This is increasingly critical to survive and thrive in a technology-intensive, innovation-driven global economy. In addition to undertaking R&D in-house, I also encourage them to work more closely with our research eco-system – through corporate labs, tech consortia, joint ventures, or other modalities.
Corporate venturing, like what you have done, is another example of how larger companies can find opportunities in a fast-moving environment. And we have built up an eco-system of venture studios that are helping corporates which are new to the venturing process.
For our start-ups and smaller firms, we are helping them in other ways, including connecting them to innovation nodes around the world. Through the Global Innovation Alliance, we are currently linked to 15 cities, including four in Southeast Asia – Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Manila. Through these networks, our firms can share ideas and explore collaborations with partners from abroad.
By helping our companies – large and small – innovate, we can build a much more dynamic and competitive economy, with better prospects for our workers.
The third lesson is the importance of scale. Razer started out as a global company. North America was your initial primary market. But you expanded rapidly. Today, Razer products are used in almost every part of the world. You have 18 offices and 150 million users worldwide. And you are now seeking to expand your presence in Southeast Asia.
The growth potential of Southeast Asia, in particular, is promising. Even before COVID-19, Southeast Asia has been growing at 5% per year and there is still significant headroom for catch-up growth. Countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, have young populations and are urbanising rapidly. Overall, the middle class is expanding, and with that comes greater consumption power.
Enterprise Singapore has put together a suite of support to help our companies grow. These include the Scale-up SG programme for high-growth potential companies to scale effectively, by building up their leadership teams, growing their business networks and tapping on Enterprise Singapore’s expertise.
Another is the Go Global programme, where we help companies explore in-market opportunities, match them with potential business partners, and build the necessary capabilities.
Through these and other efforts, we hope to help our companies scale, to Southeast Asia and beyond.
Developing Our People
The launch of Razer’s Southeast Asia Headquarters also marks the strengthening of your base in Singapore, as you expand into the region. Razer’s investment in areas such as product development, software engineering, AI and data science will not only create value for your customers, but also create many more exciting jobs for our people. To access these jobs, our workers will need to acquire new skills and competencies. I look forward to Razer working closely with industry and with our agencies to develop our people.
Despite COVID-19, the infocomm and media sector remains an area of strength in our economy. Apart from Razer, many other start-ups and tech companies are looking to hire. Training a pipeline of professionals to take on these roles is an industry-wide effort. Under the TechSkills Accelerator or TeSA initiative, government agencies and industry partners are helping workers in this sector upgrade and acquire new skills. Over the past five years, TeSA has placed over 10,000 locals into tech jobs. We aim to place thousands more in the coming years.
Razer has also committed to train and nurture the next generation of talent here in Singapore.
Some of them joined Razer through the SGUnited Traineeship Programme. One of them is Nicolas Yap. Nicolas joined as a trainee under SGUT last year and eventually secured a permanent role as an Associate Content Operations specialist in Razer’s software business unit. In this role, he conceptualises and executes regional content campaigns using data analytics.
To grow deep-tech talent, Razer is also part of ESG’s Innovation & Enterprise Fellowship Programme to nurture a pool of scientists and engineers who can translate research discoveries into business solutions.
As importantly, Razer has created meaningful careers for your people. One example is Chong Boon Sim, a Principal Industrial Designer who oversees the development of Razer’s gaming mice.
She rose through the ranks in her twelve years with Razer. In these years, she has contributed 24 design patents, including the gaming chair that we are sitting on today.
Earlier this month, Boon Sim was named to the Singapore 100 Women In Tech list for 2021. I hope her journey will inspire more women to pursue a career in STEM.
Razer’s investments in Singapore and in our people are commendable. I hope more global companies will likewise leverage on our tech eco-system, and use Singapore as a gateway to explore opportunities in Southeast Asia and beyond. In so doing, they can create good jobs for our workers and improve their lives.
Where we are now located – one-north – is home to many tech companies, including game companies Ubisoft, YOOZOO Games, and Bandai Namco, animation studio Lucasfilm, as well as local tech firms such as Grab and Sea Group. Being setting up here, I hope you will find more opportunities for collaboration.
Razer’s journey has been an inspiration for many entrepreneurs. You have come a long way since you launched the Razer DeathAdder gaming mouse back in 2006, which has since sold more than 10 million units globally. Today, your revenue exceeds US$1billion and the company has turned profitable.
Your success is down to Min-Liang and your team’s sheer grit, ingenuity, and determination to make a difference in the global gaming scene. The pioneering spirit that has enabled you to overcome the many challenges and hurdles, continues to drive Razer today.
Today marks yet another milestone, as Razer continues to expand and grow. As your hallmark green logo appears on an even wider range of products and on more computing desks, I am confident that you will also create better jobs and more exciting opportunities for our people.
In closing, I congratulate Min-Liang and your Razer team on the official opening of your Southeast Asia Headquarters here at one-north. I wish you every success in the years ahead!
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