Sea Ltd’s COO is latest to join Singapore’s billionaire club

Photo: Sea website

Singapore’s newest billionaire is a former government employee who rode mobile sensation Free Fire into the ranks of the ultra-wealthy this week.

The battle royale or fight-to-the-death title distributed by Sea Ltd. ranked among the five most downloaded games on the Apple and Google app stores for three straight quarters this year and has amassed $1 billion in adjusted revenue since launching in 2017. That propelled a tripling in Sea’s market value and the fortune of co-founder Gang Ye, a Carnegie Mellon University alum who’s worked for Wilmar International Ltd. and Singapore’s Economic Development Board.

The 39-year-old joins fellow co-founder Forrest Li, whose larger stake in the fast-growing games-to-shopping company earned him a ten-digit fortune earlier this year. Ye, who moved to Singapore from China in the 1990s as a teenager and became a citizen shortly after his return from the U.S., has served as Sea’s chief operating officer since 2017.

The executive holds an 8.4% stake in the company and is worth $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. A company representative declined to comment on his net worth.

Shares in the company, which is part-owned by Chinese social media titan Tencent Holdings Ltd., reached an all-time high this month after Sea reported a tripling in revenue to $610.1 million in the third quarter.

While gaming is Sea’s biggest business, e-commerce platform Shopee is also growing fast. The segment’s revenue more than tripled in the quarter, helping narrow net losses to $206 million. Sea’s dependence on the success of “just a few game titles” was listed as one of its business risks in a 2018 annual report.

Shopee, whose television and online ads feature Juventus soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, topped the mobile shopping category in Southeast Asia by monthly active users and downloads in the third quarter, according to researcher Iprice Group. While an influx of e-commerce giants from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Amazon.com Inc. onto Sea’s turf has sparked concerns over its growth, the company has a “firm lead in the region that’s tough to break,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman wrote in November.

Ye and Li are the latest billionaires to emerge from the gaming scene. Tim Sweeney, founder of Fortnite maker Epic Games, has a $7.2 billion fortune while Gabe Newell — whose Valve Corp. operates the Steam platform — has a net worth of $5.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s ranking.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.