UPDATE: Malaysia’s Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan dies of blast injuries

Nazrin Hassan. Photo: Cradle Seed Ventures

Nazrin Hassan, the group CEO of Malaysia’s early-stage funding agency Cradle Fund, has died of complication of blast injuries due to an exploding hand phone that was charging next to him, said an official statement from Cradle.

The incident was first reported by local media The Star Online yesterday, that Nazrin died of smoke inhalation after his room caught fire at his home in Petaling Jaya, Selangor here on Thursday.

He was 45, and is survived by his wife with four children. The incident happened at around 12.30pm earlier.

Nazrin has been a strong supporter of Malaysia’s early-stage startups with Cradle Fund, his brainchild, playing a big role in providing financial assistance to local early-stage technology startups.

The firm is an early investor in ride-hailing startup Grab, previously known as MyTeksi, and fintech startup iMoney.

Cradle Fund is an agency established under Malaysia’s finance ministry about 10 years ago, a spinoff from the Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (MAVCAP). Nazrin Hassan began his journey in Cradle Fund through Cradle Investment Programme (CIP), which was initially managed by MAVCAP as its head of structuring and strategy and policy advisor.

In 2007, he was officially appointed as CEO by the finance ministry to spur growth of early-stage funding for technology startups. He also advocated for an angel investment ecosystem in the country through the setting up of the Malaysian Business Angel Network, of which he is a secretariat chairman.

Hassan held two law degrees from University of Buckingham and King’s College London.

His demise has sent shock across the Malaysian startup ecosystem, with condolences pouring out to his family.

“Cradle has lost a passionate, innovative and humble leader and the startup community has lost an inspiring leader. His vision and love for innovation will always be at the core of what we do. Nazrin loved his work, but his greatest love was for his wife and children.

“Speculation on the cause of his death is completely unncessary and unacceptable at this time. We request for everyone to respoect the privacy of the family during this time of grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those he touched on his journey,” said the agency.

Cradle chief operations officer Razif Aziz said: “Cradle has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing humang being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Nazrin have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.”

Juliana Jan, who is Cradle’s chief investment officer: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this news. Having worked with him for many years, his vision and passion have brought endless possibilities to not just Cradle, but to the startup ecosystem.

“He touched and inspired us, the Cradle family, along with many startup founders, investors and partners. He was one of-a-kind leader and visionary who made an incredible mark in the startup ecosystem. Our thoughts and prayers for his wife and children.”

In a Whatsapp message to DEALSTREETASIA, managing partner of 500 Startups, Khailee Ng said: “Having co-invested with Nazrin on multiple Cradle-backed deals, what is most apparent to all is his consistency and perseverance in serving startups in Malaysia.

“His contributions already created a ripple effect. Much of the regional ecosystem had a head start because of Cradle. We lost a kindred spirit today, but his impact will continue to be felt through time.”

Co-founder of Asia Women Circle that drives @leaninmalaysia, Sarah Chen tweeted: “Absolutely in shock – Nazrin was among the few Malaysian leaders that sincerely believed in the youth and the need to harness potential through entrepreneurship. Deepest condolences to his loved ones.”

While founder of e-commerce marketplace Joel Neoh said in a Facebook post that the Malaysian startup ecosystem has lost one of its bravest leaders. “Deeply saddened. We will miss you. RIP Nazrin Hassan. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.”

Co-founder and CEO of cultural marketplace CultureGuru, Feng Lim said on his Facebook: “Today we lost one of the brightest soul in Malaysia. Rest in peace, Nazrin. Your contribution towards the ecosytem will always be remembered.”