Seize CEO’s journey to world’s largest SPAC deal By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Seize’s CEO Anthony Tan speaks throughout Seize’s fifth anniversary information convention in Singapore
By Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The CEO of Seize, a preferred app to e-book taxis, order meals and make funds in Southeast Asia, has at all times been decided to win — from making his agency the best-funded regional start-up to defeating behemoth Uber Applied sciences (NYSE:).
On Tuesday, Anthony Tan set one other file when Seize Holdings agreed to checklist on Nasdaq by means of a $39.6 billion merger cope with a blank-check firm, Altimeter Development Corp.
The transaction would be the world’s largest merger involving a so-called particular goal acquisition firm (SPAC). The accompanying $4 billion fundraising from world traders can be set to be the largest ever U.S. fairness providing by a Southeast Asian firm.
“Anthony focuses on what to do, and executes it properly,” mentioned Chua Kee Lock, chief government officer of Singapore-based enterprise capital agency Vertex (NASDAQ:), an early investor in Seize.
The offers validate the 39-year-old co-founder’s technique to go hyper native and develop additional in a area whose digital financial system is estimated to triple to $309 billion by 2025.
“This could be a precedent set not essentially simply from the perspective of start-ups themselves however from world traders beginning to have their eyes open to the Southeast Asian alternative,” mentioned Usman Akhtar, who leads Bain & Co.’s Southeast Asia non-public fairness observe.
Tan and co-founder Tan Hooi Ling, who’re unrelated, created Seize from a Harvard Enterprise Faculty enterprise competitors plan in 2011. They launched a taxi app in Malaysia in June 2012 after which took it regional.
And whereas the charismatic Tan is the scion of one in every of Malaysia’s wealthiest households, he determined to strike it out as an entrepreneur.
“He’s a really decided character and doesn’t surrender simply,” mentioned Chua.
That resolve got here in helpful in Seize’s expensive five-year battle with Uber, when Tan instructed workers that when “an area champion stays true to their beliefs and strengths, they will prevail.”
Uber exited the area in 2018 by promoting its enterprise to Seize and in return took a stake within the firm.
The deal additionally laid the muse for Seize’s meals supply enterprise, which has turn into its largest section as stay-at-home clients ordered meals and groceries on-line final 12 months.
However the COVID-19 pandemic additionally plunged Seize into its largest disaster after demand for ride-hailing providers tanked, forcing it to put off about 5% of its workers.
Tan sought recommendation from his traders, together with Microsoft (NASDAQ:)’s Satya Nadella. Softbank (OTC:) CEO Masayoshi Son, whom Tan calls his private mentor, additionally helped in Seize’s choice to pivot into deliveries and develop its funds enterprise.
“Anthony at all times had in thoughts a major enterprise that would embody providers past ride-hailing,” mentioned Frank Cespedes, a senior lecturer at Harvard Enterprise Faculty, who supervised the Tans’ staff within the marketing strategy competitors.
Those that have labored with Tan say he’s obsessed with Seize and has large power. Final 12 months, when individuals largely labored from dwelling in Singapore, Tan usually spent 15 hours a day at his standing desk, typically exercising with dumbbells.
He usually jokes that he and his spouse want to remain energetic to handle their three toddlers. They’re anticipating one other baby.
SUPERMAN AND IRON MAN
Whereas Seize continues to be loss-making like many early-stage high-growth tech corporations, Tan mentioned the agency, which has greater than 7,000 workers, began excited about an inventory almost a 12 months in the past.
Solely this 12 months, it critically thought-about going public through a merger with a SPAC after receiving many presents.
Sources acquainted with the matter mentioned the IPO course of was code named “Iron Man” whereas the SPAC route was dubbed “Superman.”
“Superman is an efficient man and he would go all out to serve society,” Tan instructed Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
Seize’s funding comes as rivals together with Gojek and Sea are additionally bulking up.
“Different founders, different entrepreneurs and the area will have the ability to entice much more capital, as a result of now we have proven that traders can earn a living, can exit,” mentioned Tan.
Tech corporations view the area of 650 million individuals as an enormous alternative, however the markets’ range has tripped up some world corporations.
A lot of Seize’s success has been because of Tan’s relentless drive to localise. It accepted money when Uber solely allowed card funds. Seize additionally moved early to supply motorbike taxi rides in traffic-clogged international locations of Vietnam and Indonesia.
After shifting its headquarters to Singapore, Seize gained entry to a number of the world’s largest traders and expertise.
“Seize’s sharp focus permits them to go very deep into the eco-system and be related throughout an individual’s on a regular basis life,” mentioned Keith Magnus, Asia co-chairman at boutique funding financial institution Evercore, which was amongst Seize’s advisers on the SPAC deal.
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