Singapore Unicorn Sea, led by CEO Forrest Li, to issue IPO expected to raise $1bn

Singapore-based Unicorn “Sea” announced it has filed a registration statement for a proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New York stock exchange.

Formerly known as Garena since its formation eight years ago, Sea was initially a gaming company, but has since diversified into its gaming platform, still called Garena, along with Shopee and Airpay.

The company renamed itself to reflect the regions it operates in within Greater South-East Asia.


Products and Services

Garena allows users to “access popular and engaging online mobile and PC games that we curate and localise for each of our seven markets.”

Those seven markets include Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore – across which Sea employs over 5000 people

Garena is the exclusive operator for Greater South-East Asia of such games as League of Legends and FIFA Online 3.

Shoppe is an e-commerce platform also run by Sea. The leading platform of its kind in Greater South East Asia, it is tailored for the region and provides “buyers and sellers with an easy, secure and fast online shopping experience through strong payment and logistical support.”

AirPay is a financial service business, providing e-wallets to consumers and small businesses. It provides businesses with AirPay counters which serve as a a network for cash input, much like a “reverse ATM.”

Overall, Sea states that irs mission if to “better the lives of consumers and small businesses of Greater Southeast Asia with technology.”

According to Sea’s website: “Over the next decade Greater South East Asia will be digitally transformed, with almost every community connected to the internet and with almost every person holding a smartphoenin their hand. This gives us a unique opportunity to touch millions of lives every day as onf of the region’s leading internet companies.”



The CEO of the tech unicorn is Forrest Li, who founded Garena Online Private Limited in 2009. The company would then be renamed Sea (in May 2017).

Prior to founding the company, he held positions at Viacom Media Networks, Corning Inc and Motorola. He also gained experience heling to form and develop several early-stage technologies start-up projects.

Forrest holds an MBA from Stanford University as well as a Batchelor’s Degree in Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Forrest was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015 for the Internet and Mobile Category, he also served as a member of Singapore Committee on the Future Economy between January 2016 and February 2017.


Initial Public Offering

Prior to issuing the IPO, as a private company, Sea was valued at $3.75bn at an earlier funding round in 2016. Its current value has yet to be disclosed.

A previous funding round raised $550,m from investors such as Hillhouse, Cathay Financial and GDP Ventures.

Prior to this, early backers included Tencent, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and General Atlantic LLC.

This funding was aimed at expanding Shoppe in Indonesia to compete with Alibaba-backed Lazada and Tokopedia. However it has also prepared Sea for the IPO which is predicted to raise over $1bn.

Thanks to the diversification of Sea into Shopee and AirPay, it has a broad base and can target toe digital market across Southeast Asia, with a population of almost 200mn and a 2016 total GDP of $3tn.



See also: 

Latest edition of Business Review Asia 

Alibaba partners with Mexico 

Tencent invests in Chinese Investment Bank, CICC


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