The CEO of MOL Friendster, perhaps one of the most historic moments in the Malaysian tech industry, was when Ganesh Kumar Bangah was made the CEO of the earlier social networking giant, Friendster a couple of years ago. Being an entrepreneur who had ambitious dreams, followed with persistent action and vision to make his ventures a success, Ganesh is the embodiment of the values that young budding in Malaysia need to succeed!
Starting from the Cybercafe’ and Challenging the Perceived Norms – Being Young, You can also still Succeed
With a dream to become the Bill Gates of Malaysia when he was a cybercafé operator in his teenage years back in Johore, and despite being laughed at by his former employer and peers, he decided to prove himself by starting his entrepreneurship venture by building MOL from scratch back in February 2000 to become one of the biggest online payment service providers in Asia with an annual revenue of RM320Million. MOL today has over 500,000 physical payment channels across 75 countries worldwide and handles over 5,000,000 transactions a month. In an even bigger historic and some said, puzzling turn, MOL acquired the failing social media networking giant, Friendster – A social media network which suffered a huge blow by then rival, Facebook in converting its user base to Facebook instead.
With the successes that he has achieved, Ganesh Kumar Bangah was certified by the Malaysia Book of Records as the youngest Chief Executive Officer of a public listed company in Malaysia when he listed MOL AccessPortal Berhad on the MESDAQ Market of Bursa Malaysia at the age of 23. MOL AccessPortal Berhad was subsequently privatized in February 2008 to further grow the company to become a regional player. He had also won the JCI 2009 Creative Young Entrepreneur Award, the Pikom Technopreneur Excellence Award at the ICT Leadership Awards 2009, and he was also acknowledged by Society Magazine as one of the ‘100 people you must know in Asia.’
Buying Friendster – Getting People to Think Further in Business
In late 2009 MOL bought Friendster, one of the leading global social networking sites and the biggest in Malaysia. With the acquisition, Ganesh was made CEO and is currently forming a new Malaysian team to lead Friendster. With the acquisition, Ganesh is one of the few Malaysians who can claim to be CEO of a truly global Internet company, which also caused everyone asking him why and questioning the relevance of his purchasing decision. Personally picked, the best reply he shot back for the question was “You must think far and see things for the value they can give you. Getting people to understand that you need to be a little crazy or to be different to be special, I think that’s the hardest thing.”
Entrepreneurs Working Extremely Hard
According to him, “Being in business also means there is never really a day off. You will always be constantly thinking about how to do things better, faster, to innovate and create. It is very much a 24/7 ‘job’.” On top of that, he also admits that it is never easy to handle change.
Ganesh added again that, “Every time you list a company, de-list it, or buy another company, it is never easy in the beginning. But managing these changes, these jumps, pushed me to grow. Buying Friendster, for example, means that I really had to learn the American culture.”
A Move to Encourage the Birth of More Malaysian Successful Companies and Entrepreneurs
Ganesh also formed MSC Cyberport Sdn Bhd., a public private partnership spearheaded by the State Government of Johor to expand the MSC Malaysia roll-out to Iskandar Malaysia. He led the conceptualization, design and execution of the Johor State ICT Blueprint which subsequently resulted in the State Government of Johor being awarded MSC Malaysia status by the Federal Government of Malaysia in 2006.
Ganesh is presently leading the drive in developing MSC Cyberport City, a 150 acre area within Iskandar Malaysia that targets to become the leading South East Asian back-office hub for ICT companies. MSC Cyberport Sdn. Bhd. has signed an MoU with Sunil Mantri Realty, a leading Indian Special Economic Zone developer to co-develop the MSC Cyberport City and has managed to secure the commitment of Teleperformance, a 90,000 man-strong French-listed contact center provider to employ up to 5,000 people within MSC Cyberport.
Young Entrepreneurs Must have Persistence and Passion to Succeed in the Long Run
While it is heartening that many young Malaysians want to be entrepreneurs, he says they should not think in the short term. Explained further by him, “I think our entrepreneurs tend to do something for a couple of years, give up, and move on to something else. They have to realise that nothing worth doing is easy but if you keep at it, you become better at it and you will make it. Don’t give up.”
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