Note from Editors:
Min-Liang Tan is the CEO, creative director and co-founder of a $1 billion company. The company produces software and hardware products for #gamers, never video games, including laptops, #gaming software, controllers, mice, keyboards, headsets, wearables, and an Open Source Virtual Reality platform. How did he do it – become a $1 billion company?
by Laura Entis
Min-Liang Tan is the CEO, creative director and co-founder of a $1 billion company, but unless you’re an avid gamer, you’ve likely never heard of him.
Indeed, on a recent ranking of the 10 most influential leaders in ####tech – a list that included big names like Elon Musk, Satya Nadella and Travis Kalanick – his name stands out because it’s so unfamiliar. He’s ok with that, though. His company, Razer — which builds products for gamers and joined the “unicorn” club last October — may be a serious #business, but Tan’s relatively low-status profile lets him fly under the radar.
Considering that he’s the public face of a big company — currently, the Carlsbad, Calif-based Razer has more than 600 employees — he strikes a surprisingly unfiltered and uncensored figure. He runs his own Twitter and Facebook accounts (in his profile picture for both, he’s onstage, next to a midriff-bearing young woman clad in a Razer-branded crop top, riling up a raucous crowd). He also says stuff you wouldn’t hear coming from media-trained Silicon Valley figures like Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook.
Speaking at his alma mater, the National University of Singapore in 2013, he told the assembled students not to stress out about getting ‘F’s in subjects that don’t interest them. “I’m one of the laziest bastards you’ll see in any place,” he continued, admitting that while in school he’d coasted most classes, which freed him up to concentrate on the things he was actually passionate about.
Almost exclusively, that was video games. Tan grew up on a steady diet of Wasteland, Road Runner, and Rescue Raiders. As a teenager, he booked a one way flight to Korea (ground zero for “eSports”) to compete in a video-game tournament. He remembers catching a glimpse of the reigning eSport champions in a hotel lobby; they were mobbed by fans, indistinguishable from celebrities. At that moment, something clicked into place. “I was like, wow. Everyone had been telling me that gaming is a waste of time, and then to see that…”
Back home in Singapore in the late ’90s, Tan and a group of friends, including his future co-founder Robert Krakoff, would regularly get together to play the first-person shooter game Quake. Things frequently got heated. “We always talked about trying to find a competitive advantage,” he recalls.
There was the consistent urge to push the boundaries of what was possible by readjusting the monitors or buying the latest controllers. But what they really wanted was a better mouse. They weren’t satisfied with any of the available models, and so as a group — one that happened to include multiple engineers — they designed and built a mouse that fit their requirements.
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Curated from Meet the Little-Known Entrepreneur Behind the $1 Billion Gaming Company You’ve Never Heard Of
Note: Featured Image credit: Razer