There is a lot going on lately about Thailand’s tech scene on Facebook. Some news last week that Bitkub got sanctioned by the SEC. Some news yesterday about SCB postponing & maybe re-evaluating the $1b deal announced last November with Bitkub.
My truth is that Topp has been hustling since 2013. I have seen him and his ascension from zero to hero, with my own eyes…
To anyone who might be jealous of Topp’s ascension, there is one thing I’m sure of: if Topp becomes rich by exiting a couple of million dollars from Bitkub one day, he will invest in my startup, and highly possibly in your Thai startup too.
And that is the foundation of a healthy tech ecosystem — what happened in Silicon Valley, London, Paris, etc — the first exited founders who became millionaires are investing wealth in young founders to enable them to start a new tech business. That’s how the flywheel works.
The broken flywheel
Now let me tell you another truth… There are a lot of Thai billionaires out there. And I won’t bet the house on having them invest decent amounts with decent terms in your startup.
In Thailand, 10 families basically control most of the wealth, land, and industries of the country… In fact, Thailand’s Gini coefficient is one of the lowest in the world, showing extreme wealth inequalities like nowhere else.
Would these billionaires hit the news to have tossed a coin to you for your startup? Well, after 8 years hustling this region, I personally know several of these families, and yes, some (not many) did invest a couple of bucks in my and my friend’s businesses… but not always with decent terms.
Did the CP brothers hustle as much as Topp to create their wealth? Probably, I don’t know.
But one thing is for sure, no matter how much hustle they did: they are not as accessible, and they do not let you bargain. You just can’t talk with them, and if you do you can’t negotiate, they won’t invest in you with fair deals.
And that is the real issue here.
Bitkub and his team members on the other side always made it a priority to stay very humble, accessible, and open to partnerships, with a real goal to push his country forward, and take as many people as possible with him, making thousands of Thais rich from the last crypto bull run.
And this, we should respect.
In fact, most people in the tech scene can reach out to Topp instantly and speak with him on Facebook, LINE, or calls. And that’s rare, respectable for a multi-million dollar tech CEO.
Another truth is that, across eCommerce, blockchain, esports, AI/robotics, agriculture, and energy: the technology adoption of the last 10 years and the next 10 years will create Thailand’s next 100 billion dollars of wealth, and some people gonna grab this value for themselves.
Now the question is, what type of tech billionaires do you want to see in your country rising up next? And do you want them to be accessible and invest in the next generations of startups or do you want them to centralize wealth and power to only a few?
Your country needs media mobilization: Yes, but focused on the right things…
We all need Bitkup to be Thailand’s first unicorn.
But let me tell you something, last year, your country needed a win in tech. Your country needed the first Thai-founded unicorn.
And still does today. Actually, your country needs 100 of them. And guys you (we) are late in the game.
And those next 100 Thai unicorns need to come from Thai entrepreneurs from every background, not only from those elite conglomerates.
So no matter what was the inside truth of this Bitkub situation. Good or bad… SCB as a brand got pumped so much the past 6 months when announcing Thailand’s first billion-dollar deal. And now they have finished using the fame, used Topp’s face enough on the billboards, they are renegotiating the deal to buy it cheap, because of “compliance”?
That’s not fair game. Retracting or renegotiating a deal months after benefiting from an announcement: That’s actually pretty bad.
So that’s what I would like to say to all Thais in their 30’s: if you wanna one day to see your country where tech entrepreneurship thrives on the global stage — not only for the elite conglomerates — you will need to change how corporations are working and empowering — not predating — startups to build the next big things in Thailand and beyond.
If by the end of the year Bitkub isn’t a unicorn anymore after renegotiation for whatever reasons, we should be ashamed of SCB announcing a billion-dollar deal in the first place and free looting the benefits of this announcement, then retracting.
This is because corporates act in such a predatory fashion that the few Thai-founded startups never make it to decent exits and global investors remain skeptical about investing in the Thai startup ecosystem… after 8 years of hoping Thailand will become a “Startup Nation”.
So let’s put some anger where it should be: towards making the corporates change, be more generous, and actually walking the talk of their announcements, because if Bitkub isn’t a unicorn in 2022… All Thais might just keep losing the tech unicorns race to Singapore… again for another decade.
PS: In the US, where tech investments are the highest, this is how the court is ruling these PR abuses.