About Forrest Li
Forrest Li, Founder, Chairman and Group CEO of Garena, is a passionate entrepreneur driven by a strong desire to connect people from around the world.
Drawing experience from his years of service with Motorola, Corning and MTV Networks, Forrest embarked on a journey to fulfil his vision of improving people’s lives through technology. In 2009, he founded Garena, which has since grown into the largest online and mobile internet platform provider in Southeast Asia and Taiwan today.
In recognition of his achievements, Forrest was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in Singapore for Internet and Mobile category in 2015.
Connecting the Dots
In charting Garena’s future, Forrest draws inspiration from his vision of a world where lives are transformed as people become more connected with information, goods and services. This vision has given rise to a passion for “connecting the dots” by creating the best internet product and services to reach the greatest number of people to bring the world together.
Garena as a digital content platform was birthed from Forrest’s love for online games and physical sports. Soon after its founding, the company launched Garena, a trailblazing gaming and social platform that garnered the company the reputation of being the best PC gaming platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Garena, which hosts a wide portfolio of leading online games such as League of Legends, and mobile games such as Headshot, has brought together players from across Southeast Asia and Taiwan, and revolutionised online gaming interaction and engagement. It also offers strong people-to-people connectivity within the gaming community, and provides opportunities for tens of thousands of gamers, including Forrest himself, to cheer alongside one another in various e-sports competitions organised by Garena.
Apart from Garena, the company has also introduced other internet platforms that support the needs of the underserved. BeeTalk is Southeast Asia’s first indigenous mobile social network, while AirPay, which was developed to serve those without credit and banking facilities, offers access to online services through the prepayment of cash. Shopee, a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace for users on the go, was created to overcome hurdles in the C2C marketplace such as the lack of a reliable last-mile fulfilment and secure payment infrastructure. With Shopee, Forrest aims to enhance the online shopping experience with a safe, secure and fuss-free platform for both buyers and sellers.
Bolstering the Start-up Ecosystem
Forrest is a firm advocate of giving back to the community that nurtured him. As an entrepreneur, he understands that early-stage start-ups require strategic counsel and exposure in order to help the business take off.
On this note, he has actively supported and contributed to the development of various high-potential start-ups in the region. These include RedMart, a Singapore online grocery platform; Foody, a restaurant review website in Vietnam; and Vanitee, a Singapore-based marketplace connecting beauty practitioners with customers. The company has also launched Shopee University, an entrepreneurship development programme aimed at training sellers to be true ‘Power Sellers’ who have the skills to sell more effectively online.
Nurturing Young Talents
Recognising the importance of talent in ensuring an organisation’s success and continuity, Forrest has established the Management Associate and Management Internship Programmes to guide and mentor young talents in the company. Through such programmes, the company has successfully attracted and nurtured a team of passionate young leaders who also share Garena’s vision to improve lives in the region.
Forrest’s passion for nurturing young talents is also what spurred the self-professed football fan to support the Singapore football scene through a S$4-million sponsorship of the Young Lions Football Club. The sponsorship deal is the biggest in the history of Singapore’s football league, and will contribute significantly to the training and development of young sports talent.
Forrest’s love for the sport was sparked in the 1980s when his father brought him to a live football match. In Garrena, Forrest discovered many like-minded sports enthusiasts and a company football team was swiftly born. The company now charters a shuttle to ferry Garena employees out for regular street soccer matches as a team bonding activity.
The support for the national team is therefore a culmination of Mr Li’s passion for football and commitment to contributing back to Singapore where he has been based since 2006.
“I love football, my employees love football, it’s our way of giving back to the society that has supported us a lot,” said Forrest.
Partaking in the Future of Singapore
Forrest sits on the Committee on the Future Economy, a 30-member committee set up by the Singapore Government and co-helmed by the Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran. The Committee sets out to develop strategies to position Singapore as a vibrant and resilient economy with sustainable growth that creates value and opportunities for all.
News and Speeches
Southeast Asia’s Most Valuable Startup Running Toward an IPO
Bloomberg, 30 August 2016
In an exclusive interview, Bloomberg’s Yoolim Lee speaks to Garena’s Founder and Group CEO, Forrest Li, to find out the secret behind the rise of Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup.
Football: CEO of mobile platform provider Garena calls on more firms to invest in local game
Straits Times, 3 February 2016
Mr Forrest Li shares his passion for football and his motivation behind the company’s sponsorship of the S.League Young Lions, and hopes more companies will take the leap of faith and invest in local football.
S.League: Young Lions announce record $4M sponsorship deal with Garena
Yahoo!, 2 February 2016
S.League Young Lions unveiled Garena as their new title sponsor in a sponsorship deal that will see them receive $4 million over the next two years.
30-member committee assembled to plot the future of Singapore’s economy
Straits Times, 21 December 2015
The Singapore government forms a 30-member committee, called the Committee on the Future Economy, to develop economic strategies for Singapore’s future. Garena’s founder, Chairman and Group CEO, Forrest Li, is a member.
Forbes CEO Conference, Manila
12 – 14 October 2015
In its 15th year, Forbes Global CEO Conference focused on the theme of visionary leadership – how leaders at the helm of great companies conceive and articulate vivid visions that capture the imagination of their teams, inspire confidence among investors, and win the hearts and minds of consumers. There, Forrest Li, Founder and Group CEO of Garena joins a distinguished panel of speakers from Qiming Venture Partners, Facebook, Infosys and Baidu to discuss how technology and innovation are driving revolutionary change across the world. Panel was moderated by Rich Karlgaard, Publisher from Forbes Magazine.