Headquartered in Singapore, Garena was founded in 2009 by Forrest Li and his friends as they aspired to transform their passion for entrepreneurship into a great company. Forrest named the company "Garena" – a play on the words "global arena” – in reference to his broader aspirations to connect people via the Internet. Garena has since grown swiftly to become a leading platform provider for online PC and mobile digital content, eCommerce and payments across Asia, serving millions of users.
In 2010, we launched our first product, Garena+, an online platform for people to meet, chat and play games with one another. By combining a communication tool with compelling digital content, Garena re-invented the business model for online entertainment in Southeast Asia and created a platform with strong network effects. Since its launch, many of the world’s most successful online games have been exclusively available on Garena+ including three of the most popular titles in Southeast Asia.
Since then, Garena has steadily innovated by adding successful extensions to our original platform:
2013: We launched BeeTalk, the first indigenous mobile social network in Southeast Asia.
2014: We introduced AirPay, a key tool for bridging the ‘digital divide’ to provide accessible financial services in emerging markets. Garena users can pay for online content, telephone bills, utilities, e-commerce transactions etc. on the AirPay network – regardless of whether they have a bank account or credit card.
2015: We launched Shopee, a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace where users come together to browse, shop and sell on the go, anytime, anywhere. Shopee is fully integrated with respected logistics networks and local payment providers. Shopee aims to make online shopping easy, secure, and fuss-free for both sellers and buyers.
The combination of PC and mobile digital content, eCommerce and payments is the foundation of Garena’s compelling value proposition to our millions of users and our trusted partners.
Garena's investors include General Atlantic, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Tovio Annus, a co-founder of Skype.
Connecting the Dots
- A Personal Reflection from Garena’s Founder
Follow Our Heart And The Dots Will Connect
We believe that by remaining true to our heart and following our passion, one day we WILL make all the dots connect. It is our mission at Garena to build an enterprise that helps every Garenian to follow their heart and connect our dots.
I was at Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech in summer 2005 in which Mr. Jobs shared a personal story of how the dots could connect in one’s life -- but only looking backwards. Mr. Jobs dropped out of Reed College six months after enrolment, but sat in classes at Reed based purely on instinct and curiosity. These classes might have seemed to be random dots that had no connection with each other and of little practical value. Yet, ten years later, the knowledge he acquired from one of those classes helped him design the typography in the first Macintosh computer. The moral of the story is, in Mr. Jobs’ own words: “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
His words resonated with me. I follow my passion in life and work, and I hope all of us Garenians may put their minds where their hearts are and derive great joy from continual learning and satisfaction of their curiosity, be it now or ten years from now. As we strive to build an enterprise that has a soul and an aspiration for greatness, we create our own stories and do not follow conventions.
Connect The Dots To Connect The World
We believe the world will be a better place when more people, information, goods and services are connected. It is therefore our mission at Garena to reach and connect an ever growing number of “dots” in the world.
Connecting the dots speaks volumes about the revolutionary industry we are in. We believe the core value of the Internet is connecting -- connecting people, information, goods and services. These are the “dots” that we strive to connect in our daily work. The more connected the world is, the easier it is for people to communicate, the more efficiently it is for people to operate, and the happier our lives will be. At Garena, our hard work and relentless effort every day go into providing the best internet products and services and reaching the greatest number of people to bring the world together.
Let’s devote our heart, our love, our passion and determination to improving this world and all the lives we may touch. Along this journey, Garena will always be with us and make us proud!
Founder, Chairman and Group CEO
Our Core Values
Garena is a deeply values-driven organization. Our home market of Asia is a highly diverse region, with many countries, multiple cultures, and multiple languages. What unifies us is a consistent set of organizational beliefs and how we put those beliefs into practice in our daily actions. Here is that organizational covenant, which we call the ‘Garena Manifesto’:
Our people define us
Garena shall be a place where talented people thrive at scale, enjoy freedom of ideas and achieve the unimaginable. It shall be a magnet for the smartest, the most creative and the most driven.
Our products and services differentiate us
We aspire to better every life we touch and make the world an ever more connected community through innovative products and services.
Our institution will outlast us
We strive to build an institution that will last for generations and evolve with time and that is founded upon our core values.
Our core values are the foundation of it all
Our customers are the sole arbiter of the value of our products and services. We strive to meet unmet needs and serve the underserved.
Rapid change is the only constant in the digital age of ours. We embrace change, celebrate it and always strive to be a thought leader that influences it.
We are in a constant race to success while grappling with rapidly shifting forces. We move faster, better and with more urgency every day.
Our work is our commitment. We commit to our values, institution, customers and partners. We commit to each other. Above all, we commit to doing the best we can and being the best we are.
We stay humble
We have travelled a long way from our humble beginning and yet, we never lose our humility in our continual quest for greater heights.
Forrest Li Founder, Chairman and Group CEO
Forrest founded Garena in May 2009 and has been the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since its inception. Forrest aspires to make people’s daily life better through technology, and has devoted most of his career to pursuing that goal.
Under his leadership, Garena has grown into the largest internet and mobile platform company in Southeast Asia, with presence in more than 10 countries.
By providing strategic counsel to talented entrepreneurs, Forrest also aims to bolster the technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region. He participated and contributed in the formation and development of several early-stage technology start-up projects. Currently, he is also part of a 30-member Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) that is led by the Government of Singapore to devise strategies to ensure the long term sustainability and economic competitiveness of the nation state.
In 2015, Forrest was awarded Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for Internet and Mobile in Singapore.
He holds an MBA from Stanford University in the United States and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. Prior to founding Garena, Forrest worked at Motorola, Corning and MTV Networks.
*updated as of 1Q2016
Read more about Forrest Li
Nick Nash Group President
Nick joined Garena in December 2014 after more than a decade with General Atlantic (GA), most recently as the Chief Executive Officer of GA’s Southeast Asia business.
Nick is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Working Group on Local Capital Markets Integration, a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, a member of the Singapore Chapter of the Young President’ Organisation (YPO) and a member of the global Kauffman Society. He was also the former Honorary Secretary and a board member of the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SVCA), a former board member of the New York Private Equity Network (NYPEN) and a former board member of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.
Nick first joined GA in 2002 in New York and moved to Singapore in 2011 to co-found the firm’s ASEAN office. During his time at GA, Nick played a key role in many innovative investments for GA including the firm’s first investment in Southeast Asia (Garena), its most successful investment to-date in India (Genpact, NYSE: G), and its first investment in cloud computing (Quality Technology, NYSE: QTS).
Prior to GA, Nick was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York. During college and graduate school, he also worked at Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Lenovo, and IBM.
He received an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2007, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar and co-led the MBA exchange program with Tsinghua University in Beijing. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in Chemistry and Physics, magna cum laude, in 2000. In 1996 he was named a United States Presidential Scholar, one of the nation’s highest academic honors for graduating secondary school students.
At Garena, we operate in some of the world’s most exciting and fastest growing markets. Headquartered in Singapore, with operations spanning ASEAN, we are strategically located to tap into the large talent pool and growing business opportunities as a result of the region’s rapid urbanisation, growing middle class, and increasing internet and smartphone penetration.
With a highly localised strategy, Garena is well positioned to harness ASEAN’s economic growth to further grow our business regionally.
Population: 5.6 M
GDP per Capita: US$55,101
Internet Penetration: 74%
Smartphone Penetration: 109%
Unbanked: 0.9 M (16%)
Cashless Payments: 63%
Population: 249.6 M
GDP per Capita: US$3,559
Internet Penetration: 17%
Smartphone Penetration: 25%
Unbanked: 156.8 M (63%)
Cashless Payments: 25%
Population: 30.1 M
GDP per Capita: US$11,264
Internet Penetration: 69%
Smartphone Penetration: 65%
Unbanked: 13.2 M (44%)
Cashless Payments: 33%
Population: 23.4 M
GDP per Capita: US$22,651
Internet Penetration: 82%
Smartphone Penetration: 59%
Unbanked: 17.9 M (23%)
Cashless Payments: 45%
Population: 68.5 M
GDP per Capita: US$5,907
Internet Penetration: 31%
Smartphone Penetration: 43%
Unbanked: 32.1 M (47%)
Cashless Payments: 36%
Population: 100.1 M
GDP per Capita: US$2,845
Internet Penetration: 41%
Smartphone Penetration: 29%
Unbanked: 57.4 M (57%)
Cashless Payments: 22%
Corporate Social Responsibility
Our mission is to improve the lives of people around the world. To create a real social impact, we have identified three key themes which we feel deeply passionate about as Garenians.
As an internet company, we believe in the power of transforming lives through technology. Our AirPay business, for example, is playing a key role in making eCommerce accessible to the millions of people in Asia without access to credit cards or bank accounts. By equipping both the young and old with a user-friendly mobile tool backed by powerful technology and expertise, we aim to empower them with greater access to the digital world.
Using technology, we hope to serve the underserved and truly improve their quality of life.
Previous Projects: Donation of second-hand mobiles
Organized by Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, the “Chula Loves the Earth” project saw Garena donating 200 second-hand mobiles as part of their efforts to promote safe recycling of unwanted mobile devices
A Greener World
We feel passionate about the role of nature in our communities. As a Singapore-headquartered company, we take our inspiration from Singapore, which is truly a ‘City in the Garden’, and serves as a role model around the world for integrating lush greeneries with modern urban spaces. In addition to incorporating a green environment in our Singapore office at One North, we take it a step further to ensure that all our local communities remain clean and green.
Previous Projects: Outdoor gardening
With the support of Gardens by the Bay, Garenians contribute to the rejuvenation of urban parks through our outdoor gardening programme.
A Responsible Global Citizen
Garena is committed to serving as a responsible corporate citizen in the global community. We are committed to the ideals of corporate social responsibility as we strive to promote good business practices based on sound ethical standards, embrace sustainable and harmonious growth with our stakeholders, including our consumers, employees, business partners, investors and local communities, and utilise our technologies and networks to improve our communities and help those in need.
Previous Projects: Fundraising for victims of Nepal earthquake
In the aftermath of Nepal earthquake, Garena increased awareness amongst its users in Thailand in a “Play for Nepal” donation drive on Facebook. Over 40,000 gamers posted photos with hashtag #GarenaNepal, which saw Garena donating 5 Baht for each post towards the Nepal earthquake fund. In 2 weeks, Garena raised 200,000 Baht for the Nepalese refugees who were displaced from their homes.