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Razer CEO

Always clad in an all-black casual ensemble, Min-Liang Tan, CEO of Razer, embodies a true-blooded gamer. It is his air of confidence when speaking about the brand and the products that develop that gives him away as the top company man who turned a startup up into a billion-dollar gaming empire.

Tan is graduated from the National University of Singapore Law and was an attorney at Rajah & Tann law firm until he shifted career, much to the dismay of his parents. He comes from a family of professionals: doctors and lawyers. His father is a real estate consultant while his mother is a homemaker who raised four children. Tan is the youngest. Like many Singaporeans, he is fluent in English and Mandarin.

However, Tan has been a gamer since childhood, playing with his brother Min-Han. It was this passion, and innate entrepreneurial skills, that led him to solve one problem gamers had to deal with. He built the company from building a gaming mouse and officially founded Razer Inc. with Robert Krakoff in 2005 in San Diego, California. He took over the creative design director tasks as soon as he established the company and continues to oversee product development.

The brand’s first gaming mouse is called “Razer Boomslang.”

Today, Razer, the gaming hardware company, is worth USD $2.2 billion. It maintains headquarters in Singapore and San Francisco, California. The company is gradually expanding to software in addition to more hardware peripherals including keyboards.

In March, Razer launched Razer Pay in Singapore for beta testing months after it first launched the mobile wallet in Malaysia.

Tan claims that Razer is the first company to introduce the “true gaming laptop.”
In January 2017, Razer bought the phone company Nextbit and launched a smartphone that carries a price tag of USD $700 the same year.

The now iconic three-headed neon green snake logo was born out of the confidence that it will disrupt the competition. This logo has become an indication or even an identification of a serious or professional gamer. Avid fans have the logo tattoo while rabid fans who genuinely admire Tan have his face tattooed in different parts of their body.

In a post on LinkedIn in 2017, Tan reiterated that Razer is “not a peripherals company, not a laptop company but a company by gamers for gamers.”

He said — albeit in jest — that one of the reasons the company has become known for its high-performing laptops, which many other brands are trying to emulate, is because “I just wanted a gaming laptop that I would use myself when I’m on the road.”

The Razer Blade series has consistently hogged the top spot for best gaming laptops by gamers and technology journalists.

In March, technology website TechCrunch reported that Razer forged a deal with Tencent, an investment holding company, so it can focus on mobile gaming. The partnership will allow Razer to optimize Tencent Games, PUBG and Fortnite, for its smartphones, mobile controllers, and its Cortex Android launcher app.

Tan has visited the Philippines a couple of times in the past for product launches and even for participating in gaming festivals. He said that it’s his way of showing support to the growing community of gamers in the country. A few years ago, Tan bought boxes of pizzas for fans waiting outside SM North Edsa to get the first glimpse of the first Razer store in the country.

Tan’s commitment to advancing e-Sports led to a USD $2.4-million investment in Malaysia, of which he was widely criticized and accused of neglecting the industry in his own country. In news reports, he defended the move and said it was for the food of esports in the region.

In 2012, Kotaku named Tan as one of the “Top 40 Most Powerful People in Video Games” while in 2013 Business Insider included him in the list of the “25 Most Creative People in Tech.” In 2015, Tech in Asia named him as one of the “Top 30 Tech Founders in Southeast Asia. “

According to a report by Forbes, the gaming industry is a USD $130-billion industry alone and is consistently growing double digits. The proliferation of mobile gaming also opened doors for more recreational gamers that helped increase the number of players and enthusiasts. Razer started shipping to Asia and the United States and just a few years ago, it started shipping to Europe.

Tan vows to continue innovating as long as there are gamers out there.

“Because at the end of the day, we just want to do cool stuff,” Tan always said.


Words by Marlet D. Salazar

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE May 2019 Issue