This Singaporean is a billionaire thanks to mobile video games and online shopping

Forrest Li at the New York Stock Exchange.
PHOTO: Sea Limited

For many kids who spent the majority of their childhood with a game controller in their hands, getting paid to play video games definitely sounds like a pipe dream.

Not all of those dreams come true, even though some do.

Forrest Li  — the 39-year-old Founder and CEO of Singapore-based gaming powerhouse Sea — would just happen to be one of them.

Recently, the Chinese-born entrepreneur found himself emerging as one of Singapore's billionaires, on top of joining Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney in the online gaming billionaire stakes, as per Forbes.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Forbes 

How did it all start for the savvy Chinese-born businessman? Bloomberg reported that Li had attended the graduation ceremony at Stanford University in 2005 — the one where Steve Jobs had been invited as a speaker

"Stay hungry, stay foolish," Jobs mentioned in his speech.

Job's mantra spurred Li, now a Singaporean citizen, to start digital services company Garena back in 2009. Having formed Sea Limited as the parent company to Garena, he first debuted in Singapore's wealth rankings by Forbes' in October 2017 after listing Sea on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bloomberg attributed the worldwide success of its self-developed mobile battle royale game, Free Fire, as the prime reason to Li's wealth and success. With his net worth valued at S$738 million last year, he had managed to rank higher than even Min-Liang Tan, the Razer founder and CEO who was ranked in 45th place, as per Forbes.

Entrepreneur Magazine reported that as of last year, Free Fire — akin to the widely popular battle royale game Fortnite — had garnered beyond 350 million registered users globally and was the world's 4th most-downloaded game on Apple and Google app.

According to Forbes, Sea’s e-commerce arm Shopee has contributed to Sea’s revenue and success by generating “more than 25 per cent of group sales” and accumulating nearly 50 million active buyers.

mabelkhoo@asiaone.com