This interview was held in Redwood Shores, California, our first office when we first moved ECnet's global headquarters to Silicon Valley. Co-founded by me and Leong Choon Cheng as Asia Manufacturing Online in Singapore, we changed the name to ECnet, with the vision to become not only Asia's largest b2b e-commerce provider, but to become the world's largest for the high-tech electronics industry. We were dreaming big - what a trip it was. We later moved southwards to Mountain View when we needed bigger premises.
Andrea Hamilton (Computerworld) 08 February, 2000
SAN FRANCISCO (02/08/2000) - T.K. Wong points out the window of his office suite at the manicured lawns and the duck pond below. "Pretty nice, huh?" he grins. It's nice, sure, although not a lot different from any other Silicon Valley glass-and-chrome box. But it is a far cry from the third-floor one-room office in Wong's native Singapore that served simultaneously as a fencing school and headquarters of SilkRoute Ventures, Singapore's first Internet company, back in 1994.
That might as well have been a lifetime ago as far as the 33-year-old former fencing champion and SilkRoute founder is concerned. Here in Redwood City, Wong's new venture, Advanced Manufacturing Online, is already bursting at the seams and preparing to move to larger digs.
Wong recounts the difficulty he had finding new office space, haggling with realtors who wanted stock options in return for a lease. He eventually found space in Palo Alto, but he still won't give up that one-room office on Beach Road in Singapore - even as his group of companies continues to expand and now occupies the rest of the Beach Road building and others nearby. Wong is merely following the advice of a feng shui master who told him he must never let go of the place where his prosperity started.
Call it superstition, but Wong sees no reason to tempt fate. It has been good to him so far: He's chairman of a Silicon Valley business-to-business Internet startup with bright prospects, $30 million in venture capital funds and an IPO in the offing. How he got from a small room in Singapore to an office park in Silicon Valley is a story of vision, hard work, determination in the face of doubters and, most of all, chutzpah.
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