The great reading: as the titans of the generation converge in Singapore, can it become Asian Silicon Valley?

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SINGAPORE: Twenty years was the time it took the San Francisco Bay Area to Silicon Valley, the mecca of technology, as it’s called today.

In the early 1970s, the flexible market economy and the Internet remodeled the e-center region into a de facto hotbed of technological skill and venture capital budget in the 1990s.

Twenty years have also been the time it took for the planned economies of Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai to get rid of their symbol as “shanzhai” (Mandarin for mountain fortress) to make counterfeits of poor quality, evolving into a brilliant environment where technological innovation thrives.

The common thread in the history of these cities is human talent: marketing specialists and venture capitalists of the Chinese generation, most of whom were formed in the United States, returned to China at the beginning of the century with the dream of replicating the “Silicon Valleys”. Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

M. Li Jianggan, managing director of the start-up Momentum Works, said:

Now, no one mentions (this dream). The ecosystem in China has evolved to very large, disgustingly rich and with its own characteristics.

Today, a similar transformation is taking place in Singapore and the greater Southeast Asian region, where the Republic functions as a center, said Li, a permanent resident of Singapore who has left China since he was a teenager.

Approximately 80 of the world’s 100 largest generation corporations have a significant presence on the small island of Singapore. Many of them have been here for some time, adding to Google, IBM and Microsoft.

Those that have arrived or expanded their investments in recent months are among the fastest developing corporations in their respective generation centers in the United States and China: Zoom, Twitter, PayPal, Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance.

The influx of generation corporations is due to a larger wave of investments arriving in the Republic amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign investment in Singapore last year broke a record 12 years, with investments committed to a total of S$17. 2 billion, which is also expected to create more than 19,000 jobs here, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said last month.

EDB Executive Vice President Tan Kong Hwee said:

Despite the dubious environment, corporations around the world and sectors continue to expand their operations in Singapore to serve Asian and foreign markets.

He added that Singapore’s strong foundations, business-friendly reputation and strategic location in central Southeast Asia continue to make the Republic an attractive place for technology corporations to be located here to operate. opportunities in Asia.

And in adverse industrial situations and challenging economic environments – the “unscrutinized technological warfare” between the United States and China is the highest cited through the experts interviewed – it is Singapore’s strategy to seek trade openness and innovation that is needed to the fullest.

These corporations do not contribute their business, but the wealth of their founders also continues, mimicking how the generation’s executives flocked to Silicon Valley in the 1980s and 1990s.

On Wednesday, February 3, Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s circle of family members in the workplace announced that he would open a branch in Singapore, joining other very wealthy people who have also done the same, such as British inventor James Dyson and Ms. Shu Ping. , who co-founded the Chinese braised chain Haidilao.

Singapore also hosts Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Sea Group founder Forrest Li.

According to a survey conducted through real estate consultant Knight Frank last year, the country is expected to receive about 30% more of those people through 2024 than in 2019. These Americans are explained as people with a net worth of more than the US. US$30 million (US$40. 1 million).

Last year, a KPMG survey of global generation experts placed Singapore as the leading outdoor generation innovation hub. San Francisco, ahead of cities such as London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, New York and Shanghai, finished sixth in this field.

Abe Smith, foreign director of the Zoom video conferencing platform, said: “If Singapore is no longer the Silicon Valley of Asia, then it is very close to it.

But unlike Americans and Chinese, Singaporeans have no area of influence to draw skill from, and their appetite to attract foreigners to industries has a demographic and social limit.

Companies also come here to identify a bridgehead in a developing regional market; however, a single country such as China or the United States, Southeast Asia is made up of many varied actors who go through their own ups and downs.

Will it also take 20 years in Singapore to make your dreams come true?Perhaps not, because the country is charting another path, some industry experts have said.

M. Li said: “Singapore is already a cosmopolitan position in terms of generation, entrepreneurship and capital companies. It’s exclusive and doesn’t want to compare to Silicon Valley. “


The pandemic would possibly have slowed the momentum of expansion of investors and businesses around the world, yet global generation corporations have experienced a boom at a time when virtual interactions have replaced physical interactions out of necessity.

One of the new entrants in Singapore is synthetic intelligence company ByteDance, which has a short TikTok video application and is ranked as the most value-creating start-up in the world through the CB Insights analytics corporation.

Last year, reports indicated that the Chinese company planned to inject billions into its investments in Singapore, move from its existing coworking area to a larger 60,000-square-foot shared workspace in the central business district, and recruit many workers in Singapore over the next 3 years. years, years.

When asked why he was moving here, a ByteDance spokesman said Singapore presents a business-enabling environment that allows innovation to flourish.

It is also well located geographically, making it convenient to succeed in neighboring markets,” the spokesman said.

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate known for its charismatic co-founder Jack Ma, also caught the eye last year by buying 50% of the construction of the 50-story AXA tower on Shenton Way.

This is Alibaba’s first foray into Singapore: in 2014 he bought a 10. 35% stake in SingPost and then increased his stake to 14. 4%, fitting with the postal agency’s largest current shareholder.

Local e-commerce site Lazada also acquired through Alibaba in 2016 for $1 billion, which was then its largest investment outside China until Alibaba’s $1. 2 billion AXA Tower deal.

An Alibaba spokesman said Southeast Asia is the key to his strategy: by 2036, his goal is to serve two billion global consumers, allow 10 million companies to succeed, and create one hundred million jobs worldwide.

“Singapore plays a key role in this plan. It serves as the headquarters of the Lazada Group, the foreign headquarters of Alibaba Cloud, and the rest of the Alibaba ecosystem is also represented here,” the company said.

The pandemic has also noticed that e-commerce revenues accumulate in all areas. According to a 2020 IBM study, Covid-19 has accelerated the transition from physical retail to online grocery shopping for five years.

In Singapore, coronavirus has also spurred the expansion of e-commerce, the virtual economy that includes virtual finance and banking has declined. The e-commerce sector soared 87% to US$4 billion in gross product prices in 2020, according to findings from Google, Temasek and Bain

Alibaba spokesman said: “In any case, the pandemic has shown that our commitment to Singapore and the region is significant. Our e-commerce retail markets and B2B (company-to-business) platforms such as Lazada, Tmall Global and Alibaba. com have contributed to the integration of merchants and companies into their e-commerce platforms.

“The online transition has allowed them to expand the visibility of their logo and the success of visitors worldwide, especially at the time (of Covid-19 locks) when shopping at physical outlets is complicated and almost impossible. “

The usual replacement at a time of coVID-19 global blockade has also created new fortunes for pandemic winners, such as the Zoom video conferencing platform, which has hosted remote business meetings, family circle meetings and online study rooms for more than three years. one hundred million users every day.

Between January and April last year, Zoom experienced a 65-fold increase in the number of loose users in Singapore and also tripled its number of paid consumers here. The island detected its first case of Covid-19 on January 23, 2020.

Since then, Zoom has announced plans to build a progression center in Singapore that will rent a large number of engineering personnel and also double the capacity of its knowledge center that has been in lifestyles since 2019.

Mr. Smith de Zoom indexed 3 reasons for his move: Singapore’s “exceptional” engineering base, its business-related environment, and the fact that the country is already a hub for generation.

“The country also remains a step to the liking of regional headquarters, dazzled not only through our own movements, but also through many of our fellow generations who do precisely the same thing over the next year, proving that it is the best gateway to interacting in asia-Pacific region” Said.

So far, the Bay Area is considered the global center of innovation, it has become elegant in recent years for industry observers to wonder if there will be a silicon valley technological exodus due to the expansion of the festival from other internal and external cities. The United States, as well as the fledgling burden of living and doing business there.

Fewer than 4 out of 10 respondents (37%) KPMG’s 2020 survey of generation leaders suggests that the world’s generation innovation center is likely to move from Silicon Valley elsewhere. your 2019 survey.

The study’s researchers concluded that this change of heart is due to recent protectionist policies in the United States for critical emerging technologies, meaning that high-level (IP) technologies and assets do not cross borders as freely as before.

“By retaining more patented wisdom and intellectual assets in the United States, it will be even more complicated for a city outside the United States to overdo Silicon Valley as a center of innovation for the next 4 years,” the study says.

For Singapore, there is an explanation as to why of the recent influx of generation corporations that these corporations say, at least publicly. The war for technological supremacy between the United States and China has also increased the importance of neutrality for these corporations, commercial analysts said. .

In the midst of the ongoing technological war, attention to a regional base is geopolitical neutrality, associate professor Lawrence Loh of the Business School at the National University of Singapore said.

“Singapore offers a strongmanship that is not overstepped by the fluid nature of advances in the global technological war,” Professor Loh said.

Leon Perera, Managing Director of Research and Consulting at Spire, said: “There are not many difficult competing centers in the region. Hong Kong has faced its fair percentage of problems. Sites in China, such as Shanghai, face restrictions US social media platforms. America, which would be a consideration. “

Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore stands out from competing centres for a variety of reasons: ease of English-speaking labor, connectivity, strong government incentives and support, Perera said.

Maybank economist Kim Eng Chua Hak Bin added: “Singapore’s neutrality in industry dispute and technological rivalry between the United States and China attracts generation multinationals, adding china’s. “

Chinese generation companies are partly attracted to Singapore because they can do business with fewer obstacles caused by policies and sanctions, Dr. Chua said.

The repeal of Hong Kong’s legal and economic special across the United States last year also took Singapore’s step forward as a global center because it is noted that the Special Administration region wastes its autonomy and independence, the economist added.

“Reconfiguration of production source chains outside China and to Asean will also attract more multinationals to expand to Singapore to approach their production networks,” Dr. Chua said, noting that Joe Biden’s current administration will sign the end of the US-China Rivalry.

Jacob Doo, lead investment director of Envysion Wealth Management, said the prestige of Singapore’s generation center is spreading as sovereign wealth funds, such as Temasek Holdings, invest in corporations for quantum computing and synthetic intelligence.

“As Singapore’s generational scene takes off, wealthy founders can return to their home countries, which have disorders that may not be resolved soon,” Doo said.

“The pandemic has shown only the shortcomings of medical services in several countries, but also the inability to plan and manage this crisis comprehensively. “

Dr. Doo also noted that if you look at the number of doctors in the United States, you would see a higher concentration of social science doctors. In Asia, China, the proportion of doctors in generation and science outperforms the United States. up to three.

He said: “Singapore provides direct access and proximity to these talents and innovations, and opportunities and extensive progress in Asia outweigh what can be had in Europe and the United States. Singapore provides almost the best package. “


M. Li of Momentum Works noted that, in addition to U. S. and Chinese companies, there is also a developing presence in Singapore of generation and capital companies in other parts of the world, such as Softbank of Japan and South Korea of Samsung.

Many Chinese technology marketers who have to “leave” China for various reasons are also actively investing in Singapore companies directly or through venture capital funds, he added.

“The Greater Southeast Asia-Asia-Pacific region in general is attracting more attention from global generation companies, and Singapore is in a very smart position as a ‘center’ to attract them. We have noticed Japanese, Russians, Koreans and Germans: the combination of other capital resources and joy make Singapore an exciting position right now,” Li said.

When multinational generation corporations (NCM) come here, they raise capital to invest in Singapore’s generation corporations, as well as experienced professionals who can grow local and regional businesses much faster.

One example is Sea Group, founded in 2009 in Singapore, which has undoubtedly benefited from the resources and delight of its largest funder, Tencent, Li said.

The organization has 3 main entities: video games, e-commerce and fintech. Sea owns Garena, Southeast Asia’s largest game developer. It also operates the region’s largest grocery shopping platform, Shopee and SeaMoney Digital Financial.

Since the pandemic, Sea has the most productive acting name in the world and, in terms of size, has grown more than DBS Group, according to The Business Times.

As these points attract generation multinationals to Singapore, their concentration can simply be highly resilient innovation centers.

Silicon Valley’s recoverability is partly due to the fact that an early concentration of generation corporations has a charm for global talent, which can later establish its own businesses in the valley, creating a circle of innovation and talent.

If Singapore can saturate generation corporations here, it will also be well positioned to attract technical talent, said Professor Boh Wai Fong, vice dean of Nanyang Business School at Nanyang University of Technology (NTU).

“The labor market of the generation industry is highly competitive with increasing careers and it science courses in public and personal institutions.

“Having a saturation of generation corporations helps maintain the competitiveness of the box and makes it difficult for a single company to have a monopoly. It also attracts more generation corporations to move to Singapore,” Professor Boh said.

And when foreign giants make their mark here, there is a domino effect on Singaporean corporations operating with those corporations, EDB Tan said.

Sap iO Foundry Singapore Accelerator, a venture capital branch of German software company SAP, is an example of complementarity between multinationals and local corporations to expand new and responsive for Singapore.

Facebook also has a start-up accelerator with infocomm’s Media Development Authority, which guides and supplies experts to the founders of the Singapore generation, helping them expand their skills and experience.

A physically powerful generation ecosystem and a virtual professional can, in turn, create business and expansion opportunities for local businesses here,” Tan said.

“Multinationals have also helped companies embark on their transition to digitization, as evidenced through partnerships such as Google and UOB SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) Leadership Academy and the SME Business Challenge in PayPal,” he said.

The SME Leadership Academy, introduced in 2019, empowers business leaders to help SMEs virtualize and become more competitive in the virtual economy, according to Google.

It targets 4,000 SMEs by the end of this year, ten times more than the programme’s initial pandemic targets.

Google even reviewed the program last year to retailers, food and beverages and tourism, the sectors most affected by the pandemic.

EDB noted that many generations of multinationals have also embarked on education initiatives aimed at Singaporeans.

In October last year, Grab and Microsoft teamed up to launch 3 education and progression systems to help Singapore participants have secure opportunities for IT-related tasks.

Up to 5,000 drivers and delivery drivers and 250 college trainees are expected to benefit from the program until the end of this year.

Chinese companies also participate. Alibaba founded its first institute of joint outdoor studies in China with NTU in February 2018 “to explore technological responses to social disorders in spaces such as health, aging, homes and communities. “

It also offers a scholarship program in Singapore to sponsor local PhD fellows in fields related to information technology, handing them over to Alibaba’s study projects here and in China.

Alibaba spokesman said: “Perhaps most importantly, making an investment in Singapore is our project to ‘facilitate business everywhere. ‘Having a presence established here means it is less difficult for us to help local businesses grow beyond the coast of Singapore and especially in the vast Chinese market. “

So, from EDB, he added: “With the acceleration of digitization due to COVID-19, virtual skills will still be needed. Array. These (initiatives) provide opportunities for our workers to improve and remain applicable in a labor market that requires more and more virtual skills. »


By 2030, there may be a shortage of 4. 3 million generation personnel worldwide, according to a study by control consultancy Korn Ferry.

The same 2018 study predicted that Singapore’s labor shortage in the monetary and advertising sector by 2030 could lead to an unfulerated economic expansion of $29. 2 billion.

This potentially accounts for about 21% of Singapore’s projected economy by 2030, it concludes.

Experts said the generation capacity crisis is neither a new challenge nor a challenge facing Singapore, but the labor shortage in Singapore may be more severe than in other countries due to its size.

Smart Nation Initiative Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in June last year that the communications industry, which hired some 200,000 professionals, will want 60,000 more by 2023.

However, Singapore’s school systems produce about 2,800 infocommunication graduates according to the year, Dr Balakrishnan said at the time.

M. Li, of Momentum Works, said: “Singaporeans do not lack skills or revel. What is missing is enough skill with the right skills, delight and desire.

“Cities in larger countries like Shanghai, New York or Ho Chi Minh City gain skills from a vast interior, while Singapore has a limited group due to its small population and the demand for world-class generation skills is very high.

To fill a gap in the supply of generation skills, Sinholeore’s strategy is his vocational education efforts as a component of the SkillsFuture movement and inspire a mid-career replacement for those who wish to enter the generation sector.

But an external source of skill will still be needed. The government has introduced a new paint pass aimed at attracting the pinnacle of foreign technological skill.

The driving force of the new Tech. Pass last month for up to 500 seats. Tech. Pass holders can paint on other corporations or start-ups in Singapore without the classic Employment Pass restrictions.

Existing task passes require the candidate to be hired through a specific company, which would disqualify others like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Microsoft’s Bill Gates if they were deployed while their business was still in startup.

Singapore’s openness to foreign procurement has been a feature of generation multinationals.

“The ability to hire a diverse workforce capable of supporting regional operations is also essential,” Perera de Spire said. “In terms of talent, Singapore has a liberal employment passing regime compared to the maximum of other countries in the region. “

However, foreign corporations are increasingly involved in Singapore being less welcoming to foreign workers, experts said, who pointed to the perception among some that some foreign corporations prefer to rent to others in their home countries than to Singaporeans.

To address these concerns, the government is investigating more cases of discriminatory hiring practices that unfairly advertise overseas recruitment.

Last August, he suspended 90 employer paint pass privileges, which prevented them from recruiting new foreigners or renewing paint passes, adding to the 35 employers punished for the 2019 total.

Mr. Smith of Zoom said: “The Singaporean government has also introduced several generation-based graduate systems to produce local generation skills. . . At Zoom, we first look locally, with a team basically made up of Singaporeans; we only take a look at foreign skills when express source scarcity skills and functions are needed. »

When asked about skills shortages, Alibaba said why it is imperative that corporations that exploit Singapore’s skill group “also repair and further expand the skill base here. “

ByteDance also said he pledged to “deepen the local skill group and improve the skills of the local workforce through on-the-job training,” and said he would seek a balance by hiring local and global skills here.

However, while the advent of generational multinationals foreshadows business opportunities for local businesses and allows Singaporeans to acquire valuable technological skills and paint experience, experts said it is inevitable that some local companies will feel the pressure.

One of the main considerations for locally generation corporations is the festival for renting local talent, as many qualified local academics and even mid-career changers would like to paint for branded corporations prior to business creation in Singapore.

The same goes for lesser-known multinationals in the Singapore market.

M. Li said: “Relatively unknown companies, even if they are giants in their home country or region, fight here because smart technological skill here has other, more reliable options. Similarly, local start-ups also suffer, as smart generation skill prefers. to paints for Google rather than a simple start-up. “

Some generation business leaders said it is not unusual for staff working with multinationals on internal projects to “leave the ship” after business completion.

Others said they couldn’t rent to the right other people because they may not fit the wages presented through those multinationals, which hindered their ability to grow.

A business executive, who spoke to TODAY on an anonymity while his start-up generation is lately running with multinationals, said the influx of multinationals will hinder the rental of local generation companies, the job scenario is not an ongoing case. Or starvation.

He said: “Qualified skill is a scarce resource for which we will have to compete tooth and nail, and we are behind (compared to multinationals). But in general, trading opportunities, investor exposure and the pleasure of working with larger corporations are invaluable to us. .

“Our path in this competitive generation ecosystem is to become more demanding in labor and with the skills of the other people we have,” he added.

M. Li, of Momentum Work, noted that another challenge affecting Singapore’s skill base is the lifestyles of zombie-generation corporations, which are no longer competitive but still afloat. “Some of them retain the technological skill they deserve to become much more productive elsewhere,” he said.

Professor Boh of NTU said local traders deserve to see the influx of American and Chinese corporations “as a way to bring the festival to life and the overall technical capacity of the industry. “

But while Singapore may be just a generation center in Southeast Asia for now, there is still a long way to go before it can be Asia’s Silicon Valley, he said. The main workplace of these generation companies, or where fundamental studies and progression are carried out. , remains abroad.

In addition, Singapore has some of its own local tech giants, but there are (if) few and pale to other Asian tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent,” Professor Boh said.

“From Singapore to Silicon Valley in Asia, we want to welcome not only a plet house of generation companies, but also the most productive industrial leaders of the most productive who will continue to push the industry to new heights,” he said.

For more data like this, todayonline. com

Listen to EDB’s MD, Chng Kai Feng, and Labour MP Patrick Tay, discuss unfair recruitment and dismissal practices on the ANC’s Heart of the Matter podcast released in August 2020:

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