Ms Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Speech - Launch of e50 Dotcom Ceremony

Ms Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Speech - Launch of e50 Dotcom Ceremony
Singapore, 11 July 2000

1. I am pleased to be here today at the launch of the e50 dotcom award. This is the dotcom equivalent of the successful Enterprise 50 award, which has become the industry standard for recognising the most enterprising privately-held companies in Singapore. The new listing targeted at New Economy companies is very timely as our economy evolves into

2. The new economy euphoria has dampened somewhat with the NASDAQ correction in April this year. Venture capitalists and investment analysts now recognise that basic "Old Economy" valuation methods apply to companies in the internet space and that profits is a good thing after all. Bloomberg reported last week that between April and June, only seven dotcoms completed their Initial Public Offerings, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 1998. Similarly, the local newspapers have reported decisions by several local dotcoms to postpone their listing plans.

3. So why am I pleased about the launch of this new e50 dotcom listing. From IDA's perspective, the recent correction has actually helped further Singapore's efforts to be the dotcom hub of the region. IDA is not in the business of hyping the dotcom scene in Singapore. We are in the business of growing promising local e-commerce players that can become strong regional players. We want to grow e-companies that have strong revenue streams, good profitability and cash flow growth, which have real value propositions to make to our industry and consumers.

4. IDA believes Singapore has all the necessary ingredients to nurture successful local e-companies. Recently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore in 8th position in its globally e-business readiness rankings, putting us as the leading Asian country that stands to reap the benefits from the new networked economy. EIU noted that Singapore has a high density of telephone lines, mobile phones and other Internet access devices. The World Competitiveness Report placed us the leading country in Asia in terms of our e-commerce infrastructure and global connectivity. Infrastructure for communications, PC and wireless penetration, a legal infrastructure for e-commerce, an educated workforce and consumer base - these foundations take time to build and is a competitive advantage that cannot be easily copied. In the present more sober environment, we believe that the strengths which differentiate Singapore from the rest will be registered by investors.

5. In the meantime, the entrepreneurial spirit in Singapore is growing. The market correction has deterred some from entering, but the rest are much wiser about the need for robust business models and plans. We know that up to 200 dotcoms were registered with RCB in the month of April alone. IDA hears that companies with good products or sound business models continue to be funded by VCs. New B2B exchanges are being announced almost every other day.

6. The growth of local success stories is an important ingredient in developing the Singapore brand as an e-commerce hub. At the TechVenture conference in San Francisco earlier this year, Time Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson identified 5 factors in building successful e-communities: He named these as "heroes" - the companies and the entrepreneurs who make the sparks of innovation fly, "town-criers" who publicise the achievements, the village pub where gossip is shared and new ideas born, blind faith because belief in an innovative idea is necessary, and the art of doing "The Deal". To me, the e50 dotcom listing is about the town-crier role, recognising the heroes and publicising their achievements as shining beacons for the rest to follow. Hence, IDA supports the effort to recognise our own Ariba.coms and Amazon.coms, perhaps the most recognised global B2B and B2C companies today.

7. Tim Draper used the word, "heroes" in the plural. To create buzz, to inspire the rest, it is important to have many heroes. One of the problems with traditional awards that recognises only the one, top company is that this recognition can be very narrow. The e50 dotcom award is very helpful because it spreads out that recognition, giving encouragement to a wider group of good companies.

8. IDA believes that Singapore has good companies, many of which are potentially winners in the New Economy. We may well be underselling the Singapore story at the international level. Perhaps the traditional Singaporean reticence in this respect has been a disservice to us. IDA sees it as part of our charter to take our town-crier role international, to showcase our e-commerce companies to a wider international audience. We will explore all possible channels available to publicise our success stories. For example, stories about our dotcoms in key trade magazines. IDA is also reviewing our corporate website to see how we can include highlights of our companies in the e-commerce space so that visitors can get a good picture of the vibrant community here. The e50 listing will be a good group of companies to publicise.

9. One of the other 5 components that Tim Draper identified was the village pub i.e. in other words, places where people gather to network. In response to industry requests to create platforms for local dotcoms to network and share experiences, IDA co-organised a Networking Forum with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry last month. Some 400 participants from the dotcom community turned up, and we had to turn away an additional 100 participants! Since the industry said that they would find such gatherings helpful, I am pleased to announce that IDA will organise an E-Commerce Networking Exchange on a monthly basis. I hope that e50 listing members will participate, providing business collaboration opportunities and tips on issues such as expanding their e-businesses into the region. I know that we are not the only agency or group that organises such events. We are delighted that others are doing so, and will indeed support these too. This is clearly a strong demand for networking opportunities.

10. Ultimately, however, the hard work to innovate, to create, to operationalise their dotcom efforts will be by our enterprising technopreneurs. To the organisers of the e50 dotcom, the Business Times, Andersen Consulting and the EDB, I congratulate you on starting this timely award. IDA is pleased to be a partner in your efforts. The e50 dotcom listing will encourage members and motivate the rest to succeed in Singapore and internationally. To our local dotcom community, I hope that this award will serve as a launchpad to bigger things. I am hopeful that some of the companies listed in our e50 dotcom group will eventually make it to FORTUNE's e50, the Red Herring Hot 100 e-companies or other internationally recognised rankings.

11. Now let's all get on board the e50 dotcom initiative. Thank you.