L-R, clockwise: Listing Catcha Media (then renamed to REV Asia) on Bursa, the team at REV Asia, after the final EGM, at Wild Digital 2017

Editor’s note: This guest contribution is published as-is, save for some edits for headline and formatting consistency.

Today, we confirmed the sale of Rev Asia to Media Prima Digital. It’s been a 17 year roller coaster of emotions as we pivoted the business multiple times until we knew that together, we would create something amazing. It’s been a tremendous journey in growth, learning what truly makes a great company. 3 Learnings worth sharing are:

1. PIVOTs are key – having the ability to try, try and then try again till it works

2000: Pivot 1 —> Almost running out of money, we launched a free magazine called JUICE, which we were told would NEVER work. The profits from JUICE ended up funding everything else we tried.

2001-2006: We launched 26 magazines, becoming one of the largest magazine companies in ASEAN. Within 12 months, 8 of them didn’t work and we shut them down! (side note: within 10 yrs, all of them would be shut down as ad dollars moved online)

2006: Pivot 2 —> Incubated and spun out a company called iProperty (that had its own beautiful, separate journey)

2010: Pivot 3 —> Realised the future of print was limited, we moved online with a ground breaking partnership with Microsoft to bring MSN Messenger (remember that?), Hotmail and the MSN portal to the region

2011: IPO’d the company on Bursa Malaysia to fund further digital initiatives Larry Gan Yong Sun Mah Justin Leong Ken Tsurumaru Luke Elliott Gan Kim Khoon

2012: Pivot 4 —> Attempted a luxury e-commerce business and failed miserably, losing millions. Attempted an online car portal which thrived (phew…) we spun that out and IPO’ed on the ASX

2013: Pivot 5 —> Realising digital media was about SCALE, it was a ‘bet the house’ moment when we joined forces with SAYS to double down on online media and our family grew bigger for the better!

2014: Pivot 6 —> Seeking more scale, added OHBULAN! Hafriz Zulpakar to the family one of the largest Malay language websites in M’sia

2015: Pivot 7 —> Buoyed by confidence in M’sia, attempted to launch in Indonesia and the Philippines. After 2 yrs and millions spent in ‘education costs’, shut that down also!

2016: Pivot 8 —> Adding Viralcham.com / Rojaklah.com Alistair Robertson Sia Thean Chai to the family, one of the most popular Chinese language websites in the country. And right after that Sirap Limau

2017: Pivot 9 —> Realised our huge M’sian digital network would need a game changing move to survive the next 5 years. The country’s next largest digital network was owned by Media Prima Digital (Malaysia’s largest owner of TV networks). It was either we buy them or they buy us. In the end, our humble startup was acquired by Media Prima for over RM100m, creating a digital group that now matches FB and Google for number of users in M’sia. There are very few digital groups globally that can match these US giants!

Also read: Media Prima Digital set to buy Catcha Group’s REV Asia for US$24M, becomes largest Malaysian digital media company

This story continues and I look forward to the continued evolution of REV as they revolutionise Malaysia’s digital media scene with their new Media Prima family Rafiq Razali Amrin Awaluddin Kamal Khalid who now have amazing online possibilities!

2. PEOPLE

Pivoting and learning what works (and doing more of that) and what doesn’t (and stopping it immediately) are only possible with AWESOME people open to change, open to learn and willing to JUST DO IT. I’m so proud that this journey included the following rockstars and partners (and number of yrs we have worked together); Voon Tze Khay the man (17), Brian Antonisamy (14), Sunantha Lim (12), Lilian Yee (10), Euseng Seto(10), Ken Wei (9), Ben Liew (9), Jacky Tee (7) and Alif Omar Mahfix (6). And of course the SAYS team, Khailee Ng & Joel Neoh (forever!!), Ronn Yeo Zhiyuan (9), Christopher Sebiji Jelly Wee and Samuel Wee (6), Aqila Zainal (6) Judith Yeohh (6), Jess Lew (5)

3. PASSION

We wouldn’t have been able to keep going without the PASSION in building a great disruptive business. We stuck to our belief very early on, that spend was going to move online and committed ourselves to making it work. It gave us the courage to take chances in the online arena and to keep trying even when we failed numerous times.

We didn’t have all the answers from Day 1, but we had a team of smart, passionate people who were given the ability to try, test and pivot until we made it work.

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This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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