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Creating an Infocomm Eco-System in Singapore

Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech Launch of the BowtieAsia Website, Raffles Hotel

Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech
Launch of the BowtieAsia Website, Raffles Hotel

Singapore, 26 April 2000

1. I am very pleased to be here today to celebrate the launch of the website of

2. I am here for 3 reasons: the first is that Madeleine Lee, founder and CEO of, is a good friend. The second is that I am very grateful for the help she has provided IDA, in our own start-up phase, to help us build important new capabilities in investments. The third is that I believe is starting a very interesting Net Age business that will add an important new component to Singapore's capabilities that will help position us to better compete as an e-business and financial services hub in Asia.

3. When the phrase "Silicon Valley" is mentioned, what do you think of? You think of somewhere in California, near Palo Alto and San Jose. Yet, if you drive up and down Route 101, there is nothing that impressive about the scenery on either side of the highway. You might ask, "Where is it? Where is it?" In my view, Silicon Valley is not so much a physical place as an eco-system. It is about mindsets and how people create new ideas or knowledge to generate wealth. It is this eco-system of companies and human networks that makes it the field of dreams. The companies range from huge businesses to start-ups, in IT, media, communications, and e-commerce. The human network includes entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angels, financiers, lawyers, property agents, and much more.

4. At Tech Venture last month, something that Tim Draper (of Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson) said stuck in my mind. He identified 5 key success factors to building a successful e-community: heroes; town-criers; the village pub; blind faith; and the deal. We need heroes to inspire us and show the way. As for town-criers, this is relevant to Singapore in that I think we have excellent technology and we execute well but we under-market ourselves. I guess I am helping to play the town-crier role today. The other 3 factors - the village pub; blind faith; and the deal - really emphasise the gathering of talent. The tossing around of ideas which sparks off a new business. The cutting of deals which allows alliances to form and ventures to get started. The participants in this human network are not just technology experts. They also include VCs and angels, investment bankers and corporate lawyers, sales and marketing people, vertical industry experts, and so on. The whole cluster of human talent and the skills they bring are necessary for the eco-system to be vibrant, to have that buzz.

5. In aspiring to be a major infocomm and e-business hub in Asia, Singapore's challenge is to recreate such an eco-system here. The Internet is a technology platform. But Net age businesses are not about technology. They are about doing business, just in a new way not done before. And Net age businesses need managerial and business talent that understand how to do business profitably, how to finance deals, how to build and maintain business relations. How fast Singapore takes off as a e-business hub may depend on how rapidly the business and management skills in the "old" economy are transferred to Net age businesses. As CEO/IDA, the healthiest trend that I have seen in the last few months is the flow of talent from the traditional corporate work into the new wave of start-ups. I believe a mix of technology talent, financial and legal skills and business experience in the management ranks of startups will strengthen their chances of succeeding.

6. In parallel, we are also seeing the creation of new online businesses in key intermediary sectors like finance. A wide range of e-financial services is emerging - internet banking, e-brokerage, e-insurance, financial portals. Singapore is developing a strong e-financial infrastructure such as e-payments and e-billing. Singapore is one of the world leaders in innovations in mobile banking. And we of course have innovative start-ups like BowtieAsia. It exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit, as its founding team - according to their website - have left high-flying, lucrative and secure careers to take up the challenge. I hear that some of them have taken 95% salary cuts!

7. is an intermediary where investment and financial services meets internet technology. By performing the function of the go-between on the web, bowtieAsia - which calls itself a "venture catalyst" - is itself enabling the fulfilment of entrepreneurship. BowtieAsia is positioning itself as a bridge between start-ups and investors. It will be a "lubricant" to start-ups to aid them on the path to successful enterprise. By providing industry comparisons and global technology updates, the business of investing in start-ups becomes less of a stab in the dark. By allowing start-ups and venture financiers to meet systematically in a controlled environment on the web, it will encourage increased depth and breadth of its audience thereby growing their opportunities. The web will enable the company to reach beyond our shores, which will contribute to our goal of making Singapore a regional hub for start-ups and venture funds.

8. It now leaves me to wish Madeleine and her team success in their venture. It is my great pleasure to declare launched. Thank you.