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Technology

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk share something in common with this Singapore tech CEO

Tan Min Liang takes centre-stage at the Hong Kong launch of Razer phone

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 10:46am

Steve Jobs had them. So does Elon Musk. And now Tan Min Liang, 40, the chief executive of Hong Kong-listed gaming hardware company Razer, joins the ranks of superstar CEOs after a diehard fan tattooed Tan’s face on his calf.

When Tan made his first foray into the gaming hardware business with Razer, he had little idea that 12 years on, he would become a cult personality in the gaming world – much less that a fan would tattoo his likeness in an attempt to get his hands on a coveted Razer phone.

“It’s weird for me to talk about this,” Tan said during the launch of the Razer phone in Hong Kong. “To [tattoo] my face, that’s pretty crazy.”

The fan had asked if he could get a Razer phone if he got a tattoo of Tan, and Tan jokingly agreed. Less than two weeks later, he was sent a photograph of the new tattoo – an image of him wearing sunglasses – on the fan’s calf.

“I was a bit shocked but I’m holding up my side of the bargain,” he said. “I didn’t expect [that he would actually do it]. The fan was sent a free phone.

Jobs, who founded Apple, has inspired a number of fans who have had his face and other tributes tattooed onto their skin. Musk, the brains behind the likes of Tesla and SpaceX, has also gained a fan following of the tattooed variety. As for Tan’s fans, they are just getting started.

“[Now] I’ve got hundreds of requests, people asking me ‘if I tattoo your face can I get a Razer Blade laptop instead?’” he said. “They’ll never let me live it down.”

Razer, headquartered in San Francisco and Singapore, went public in November. Known for its gaming mice, keyboards and laptops, the company made its first foray into the mobile arena last month with the launch of the Razer phone, a device built for mobile gamers.

The 5.72-inch phone boasts 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 4,000 mAh battery, one of the largest on the market right now. Its 120 Hz Ultramotion display also helps to ensure “buttery smooth” graphics, the company said.

Initially launched in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, the Razer phone is currently available in Singapore and will be sold in Hong Kong from December 9 at the Razer Store. It will also be available at the HMV flagship store as well as all 3 Hong Kong stores from December 16 for HK$5,999 (US$768).

Tan, who is from Singapore, is not just the chief executive of Razer, he is also the heart and soul of the brand, often taking a personal role when it comes to product design. His willingness to interact with fans, online and in real life, has earned him a large fan base that eagerly follows his every move.

Since Razer was established, thousands of fans have got themselves inked with the Razer logo, according to Tan.

“When someone gets a tattoo, it’s for life. For life, [these fans] believe we will continue to be authentic, deliver the best possible experiences and continue to be phenomenal in everything we do,” he said. “That’s a huge responsibility.”

Tan was recently talk of the town in Singapore after he tweeted to the country’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, that he would “have [an] e-payment system rolled out nationwide in 18 months”. He was responding to a tweet by Lee that said Singapore had “too many schemes and systems [that are] inconvenient for consumers and costly for businesses”.

Lee replied that Tan should come up with a proposal and Razer submitted one. Tan said plans for an e-payment system in Singapore were still under way and could be expected “in the short term”.

When some called Tan’s e-payments system proposal a stunt to drum up interest in Razer before its public listing, Tan was quick to point out that there was no point in drumming up interest in Singapore. “If I wanted to [pull a] stunt, I would have done it here [in Hong Kong],” he said.

And while the Razer phone will be available in all of the brand’s major regions, China might not see the device any time soon, despite being an area of “major focus”.

Tan said supply constraints due to the popularity of Razer devices in other markets were to blame, and that the company wanted to make sure the phone would be compatible with all Chinese carriers before it entered the market.

On the mainland, Razer competes with brands such as Logitech in the gaming arena. It sponsors professional gaming teams and sells its products on platforms such as JD.com and Alibaba Group Holdings’ Tmall marketplace.

“We want to make sure everything is perfect [before launching the Razer phone in China],” Tan said.

So Chinese Razer fans, hold off on those tattoos.