Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) co-founder Eduardo Saverin says Asia’s rapidly growing consumer market offers vast opportunities for fresh investment and innovation.
Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship to live in Singapore where he has been residing since 2009. The Brazilian-born billionaire was speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s Unleashing Innovation conference in Singapore.
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He said the Asian Internet and mobile markets are growing at a tremendous rate. That growth demonstrates Asia will be the center of the consumer base in the future, creating investment opportunities. Saverin finds Chinese market attractive because of its sheer size, while South Korea and Japan are more developed, monetizable markets.
His assessment is based on 5-10 year investment horizon, especially in the start-ups that are likely to improve interactive consumer experience.
Saverin was one of the many Harvard students who co-founded Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. He said the investment opportunity in Asia was the primary reason behind his relocation to Singapore after surrendering his U.S. citizenship.
Saverin said during the Singapore conference that he doesn’t aim to create another Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). But Saverin is an angel investor now, and whatever he does he wants it to be fulfilling. Initially, he owned about 34 percent Facebook shares, but his stake came down to 2 percent due to a series of dilutions and sales.
As an angel investor, Mr. Saverin has made investments in several start-ups, mostly in the United States. His investments include the price comparison mobile app Shopsavvy, multimedia video website Qwiki and mobile payments company Jumio. Some people argue that Saverin moved to Singapore to avoid taxes, which he denies. Saverin said that moving to the Asian city-state was a personal decision. “I don’t look at money as something I need,” he said.
Saverin praised the Singaporean government for its backing of start-ups. He also praised Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). “Mark has done an incredible job and continues to do so. Now it’s nine years old. I can’t believe that nine years ago, no Facebook,” he said.
During The Wall Street Journal’s conference, Mr. Saverin said that Asian entrepreneurs need to have more appetite for risk taking if they want to create another Silicon Valley. In Singapore, Mr. Saverin spends most of his time mentoring entrepreneurs.