Singapore telco Circles.Life buys back $5 million worth of employee stocks

Rameez Ansar, Co-founder & Director, Circles.Life

Singapore-based telco Circles.Life announced on Monday that it is buying back $5 million worth of shares allotted to its staff as employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).

Employees who have been with the company for over a year were allowed to participate. The company said it holds ESOP liquidity events every 18 months on average, which allows employees to cash in on their shares. The last ESOP liquidity round was completed in July 2020.

It claims that the first employee stocks awarded have grown 13 times in value, and that employees receive two months’ base pay worth of stock options every year on top of their usual compensation, while top performers are given an additional six months worth of stocks.

“Our ESOP programme is unique in that it grants our employees the flexibility to cash out early and enjoy the fruits of their hard work,” Circles.Life’s co-founder Rameez Ansar said in a statement. 

Circles.Life was founded in 2016 and operates in Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and Indonesia. The company, which has 450 employees, has a software-as-a-Service arm Circles X, which is used by Japan’s KDDI and Indonesia’s XL Axiata to run their digital telco brands Live.On and povo2.0. The company said it is looking to expand Circles X in more countries across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. 

It last raised an undisclosed amount of funding from private equity firm Warburg Pincus in February 2020. Last year, the company incorporated its holding company in the Cayman Islands. 

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.