The dawn of the tech era, as historians could call the 2000s in the future.
On Forbes Singapore's August list of the 50 richest, one-fifth, or 20 percent, of the list members are self-made tech tycoons.
In particular, the pandemic has resulted in mass consumption of digital goods and services and supported technology-driven industries such as gaming, ride-hailing and e-commerce. Singapore's efforts to foster a culture of innovation to foster startups over the past few decades have also paid off.
Here are 10 tycoons born with equal odds and depending on their wit and tenacity to make it to Singapore's 50 richest people:
Forrest Li, Gang Ye, and David Chen, co-founders of the gaming and e-commerce company Sea
The trio are the biggest winners in terms of net worth this year compared to last year. You have more than doubled your personal fortune.
Left to Right: Forrest Li, Gang Ye, David Chen / Photo Credit: Sea
Combined, the Sea trio have combined net worth of $ 29.3 billion, a whopping 133 percent more than $ 12.6 billion a year ago, according to Forbes' list of the richest Singaporeans published last month.
Sea CEO and co-founder Forrest Li tops the cake with the highest net worth of $ 15.9 billion, followed by COO and co-founder Gang Ye with $ 10.3 billion and chief product officer and co-founder David Chen with $ 3.1 billion. In another report on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Li is said to have net worth of $ 18.1 billion.
Ye and Chen came to Singapore as teenagers to recruit foreign talent through scholarship programs.
Ye went to Hwa Chong Institution and then Raffles Junior College before going overseas for a bachelor's degree in computer science while Chen studied computer engineering at the National University of Singapore.
Li, born and raised in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, followed his wife to Singapore after completing his MBA from Stanford University. He graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University with an engineering degree. Prior to founding Sea, Li had worked for several companies including Motorola Solutions, Corning Inc, and MTV Network.
Little did they know that their adopted home would lead them to create thousands of jobs and create wealth for themselves and the economy.
The founders founded the company in 2009, and Li included Ye and Chen. Garena, short for Global Arena, is an online game developer and publisher.
Image source: Sea Limited
The big breakthrough came in 2010, according to Li, when they secured a distribution license in Southeast Asia from the US game developer Riot Games, which had just released League of Legends at the time.
It helped Garena become profitable within the next two years and opened up opportunities for them to secure other game titles.
This is how the company became aware of the Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, which is the majority owner of Riot Games.
Garena subsequently developed popular mobile games like Free Fire, which reached 150 million daily active users in the second quarter of 2021.
Sea also owns the Shopee e-commerce platform, which is currently the leading e-commerce marketplace in Singapore. Shopee was launched in 2015.
Sea is currently supported by Tencent and is listed in New York.
More than 3,000 Sea employees are employed in Singapore.
Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, investor
Eduardo Saverin is best known as the co-founder of Facebook. The 39-year-old is now a venture capitalist but still draws most of his fortune from his small stake in the tech giant. His net worth is $ 20.5 billion.
Image source: Forbes
Saverin has lived in Singapore prior to Facebook's public launch since renouncing his US citizenship in 2012.
Originally born in Brazil, he attended Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami before going to Harvard University. He met his Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg during his junior year at school, and the two worked together to launch Facebook in 2004.
Saverin was CFO and Business Manager in the early days of Facebook. It is said that he was cut off from Facebook and that his stake was watered down due to Zuckerberg. Both parties managed to settle their differences in a 2009 settlement in an undisclosed agreement.
Saverin has signed a confidentiality agreement in the Facebook settlement.
In 2015, Saverin founded the venture fund B Capital with BCG and Bain Capital veteran Raj Ganguly to invest in Southeast Asia and India. The fund manages $ 1.4 billion in assets.
Anthony Tan, Co-Founder and CEO of Grab
Anthony Tan is the CEO and co-founder of Grab, Southeast Asia's dominant ride hailing app.
Image source: Bloomberg
Tan knew from the age of six that he wanted to be a businessman. His first business was trading in large numbers of comics that his parents bought for him from a comics convention in Singapore.
The 39-year-old holds a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago.
Tan was inspired to start Grab while at Harvard Business School. He then decided in 2012 to leave the family business to run Grab. He is the son of Tan Heng Chew, President of Tan Chong Motor.
He started the taxi hailing service – then still known as My Teksi – with Harvard classmate Tan Hooi Ling.
Today Grab offers services in eight countries and has expanded to include motorcycle taxis, delivery services, and software research and development.
The tech giant is working on going to the public market later this year through a special purpose vehicle or a SPAC deal. The deal is said to be worth S $ 54 billion (US $ 40 billion).
Anthony is listed on Forbes as a Singapore citizen. The entrepreneur recently made headlines with the purchase of a prime bungalow near Holland Village for S $ 40 million.
Forbes said his net worth was $ 790 million.
Tan Min Liang, Co-Founder and CEO of Razer
Min-Liang Tan, 43, quit his lawyer career in Singapore to start the playground equipment company Razer in 2005.
Image source: Razer
Tan is the youngest of four children in his family. His father is a real estate consultant, his mother a housewife. He holds a Master of Laws from the National University of Singapore.
Prior to founding Razer, Tan was an attorney and attorney for the Singapore Supreme Court. In 1999, Tan and Robert Krakoff met and worked together to create the world's first gaming mouse.
They launched the Razer brand in 2005 and over the years the company has gained a huge global following, selling millions of gaming laptops, mice, fitness bands, and tablets.
After launching Razer's first smartphone, Tan went public in Hong Kong in November 2017, raising $ 529 million.
The IPO made him the youngest self-made billionaire in Singapore at the age of 40.
Tan also recently made headlines with the purchase of a prime bungalow in the Bukit Timah area for S $ 50 million.
Tan's current net worth is $ 755 million.
Zhao Changpeng, Founder and CEO of Binance
45-year-old Zhao Changpeng is nicknamed "CZ" and is the founder and CEO of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.
Image source: Zhao Changpeng
He grew up in Jiangsu, China, and both parents were educators. Shortly after Zhao's birth, his father, who was a professor, was branded a "pro-civic intellect" and the family was banished from the country.
When Zhao was a teenager, he made burgers at McDonald’s and worked night shifts at a gas station.
After studying computer science at McGill University in Montreal, he spent time in Tokyo and New York developing trading systems for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Bloomberg’s Tradebook.
He did well at the company, getting three promotions in less than two years, but quitting the job in 2005. Then he moved to Shanghai to start his own trading systems company, Fusion Systems.
He later founded Binance in 2017, which is now a major player in the crypto verse.
Zhao is temporarily based in Singapore. Binance has undergone regulatory scrutiny in several countries, and Zhao said it is working with the authorities to improve the cryptocurrency industry.
Recently, Binance.com was ordered by the Singapore Central Bank to stop trading SGD payment options in accordance with local regulations.
His net worth as of August was $ 1.9 billion.
Teo Swee Ann, Founder and CEO of Espressif
The 46-year-old is the CEO of Espressif Systems based in China. Teo has been working on computers since he was eight and shows a passion for technology.
Photo credit: Espressif
The locally trained entrepreneur attended Hwa Chong Junior College before studying electrical engineering at the National University of Singapore from 1996 to 1999. He then completed a master's degree in electrical engineering from 1999 to 2000 at the same university.
Teo worked in many engineering professions for companies such as Transilica, Marvell Semiconductor and Montage Technology before the qualified electrical engineer founded Espressif in 2008.
Espressif makes the flagship ESP32 line of chips and software, as well as other state-of-the-art integrated WiFi and Bluetooth devices and solutions.
Since 2017, the brand has held first place in the Wi-Fi MCU market and is listed as one of the most innovative companies in Forbes' 20 IoT ranking.
The company's flagship ESP32 chips now power devices such as speakers, portable devices, and home appliances.
In July 2019, Espressif sold 25 percent of its shares in a listing that valued the company at $ 716 million.
Teo is currently listed on Forbes with a net worth of $ 1.55 billion.
Binny Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart, investor
The former Amazon manager teamed up with friend Sachin Bansal in 2007 to start Flipkart as an online book seller.
Image source: Arindom Chowdhury
They pooled $ 6,000 of all their savings and operated from their home.
Bansal holds a Bachelor of Science Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. Flipkart grew over the years to become India's leading e-commerce marketplace with millions of products from categories such as books, media and consumer electronics.
After 11 years of work, Walmart bought a 77 percent stake in Flipkart for $ 16 billion in 2018, which was the biggest deal for an internet company at the time.
Bansal has kept a small stake in Flipkart and is now looking after Singapore-based startups through his company xto10x Technologies.
In 2019, Bansal moved to Singapore to offer his twin sons a good quality of life. He also chose the country because it is an ideal location for his venture capitalist activity.
He is also an anchor investor in venture firm O21 Capital, which focuses on biotech, agro-tech and internet startups.
Bansal has invested in more than 40 companies including Indian fintech Acko, US-based AI company GreyOrange and Singapore-based software company Mobikon.
His net worth is currently $ 1.25 billion.
Shi Xu, founder of NanoFilm Technologies
Shi Xu, 57, a former professor, founded Nanofilm Technologies International in 1999 with seed capital of $ 225,000.
Image source: NTU
The company produces advanced coating materials and nanotechnology-based solutions that are used in electronic devices such as smartphones.
Xu and his wife moved to Singapore from China in 1991. His wife, Jin Xiao Qun, is currently the company's vice president.
He was an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which provided seed funding to NanoFilm.
Xu faced difficulties and setbacks in the initial commercialization of the company's innovative technologies. In order to solve all the different problems, he had to put up with cuts in salaries for years.
After a turbulent and challenging start, business began to stabilize and recover. In 2020, Xu listed the company on the Singapore Exchange.
Since then, shares have roughly doubled due to rising profits and revenues – and Nanofilm's market capitalization has increased to S $ 4.3 billion.
Xu has a net worth of $ 1.8 billion.
More tech bosses are added to the “Rich List” as Singapore's tech industry accelerates
The pandemic has fueled an increasing appetite for technology as the number of internet users continues to grow.
With the pandemic showing no signs of subsiding, people will rely even more on technology goods and services in their everyday lives, especially for gaming, video streaming, e-commerce and financial services.
Singapore startups will leverage their skills and strengths in their native Singapore and launch their businesses into regional markets.
Image source: Wallpaperflare
According to Golden Gate Ventures, deal activity in Southeast Asia continues to be led by Singapore, followed by Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
According to a report by Google, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, and management consultancy Bain & Co.
In the past year, 40 million new Internet users were added, bringing the total number of Internet users in Southeast Asia to 400 million. There is still room for growth as only 70 percent of the area's population is online.
Featured image source: Forbes, Sea, Grab, Peatix, Razer, Binance, NanoFilm