A shot in the arm for CyberTouch

At a time when funding for dot-coms is drying up, a Malaysian e-consulting company is getting a timely injection of capital to give it a boost toward regional expansion.

SINGAPORE - With an injection of US$6 million into its account, Malaysia's CyberTouch is ready to grow big, and regional.

The first-round funding comes from Walden International which will have a US$5 million stake in the company and BroadVision, which will put up the other million.

The funding comes at a time when the company is poised to expand aggressively in the region.

Just this year, the company has set up offices in Singapore and Taiwan, and plans are made to move into Hong Kong by April next year.

"We fully intend to become a leading player in the region," said Steve Hsia, CEO and founder of CyberTouch, at a signing ceremony last week to seal the funding.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, CyberTouch is a consulting company focused on providing IT consulting.

The company's focus is on the traditional brick-and-mortar companies, taking them on-line instead of providing services to dot-com start-ups.

Providing what it calls a Tri-services model of consulting, the company works with its clients on the creative, technological and strategic aspects of an e-business plan.

Its list of clients, totaling over a hundred, according to Hsia's estimate, includes names like Taiwan's United Daily News, Malaysia's Tenaga Nasional and courier company DHL.

Currently, the company is working with Singapore's DBS bank on a project to bring banking services on-line.

One of the reasons cited by Walden for its decision to invest in CyberTouch has been the company's focus on traditional brick-and-mortar companies instead of dot-com start-ups.

"We find that the e-consulting business is growing, especially in the area which CyberTouch is focusing on," said Walden's executive Vice President, Chok Kwee Bee. "They are looking more at the B2B, and the B&M transformation. The dot-coms will come, but right now, the right area to focus on is the brick-and-mortar business."

The Walden International Investment Group is a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist group with a physical presence in 8 Asian countries.

Over the years, the group claims to have made investments to build over 300 companies around Asia.

Another reason cited for the investment is fiscal prudence.

"We feel that they've managed their funds very conservatively," said Chok, "the two and a half million which they have raised over the last 3 years has taken them a long way."

Prior to the Walden/BroadVision injection, CyberTouch has relied solely on angel investor funding.

The company now has 170 employees and claims to be profitable in its Malaysian operation.

Walden's chairman, Tan Lip-Bu has been appointed to CyberTouch's board of directors while BroadVision's CEO, Pehong Chen will serve as the company's corporate adviser.

BroadVision's Chen addressed the signing ceremony via video and commented on CyberTouch's strong vision and sound business model.

Looking ahead, Hsia estimates the funding will carry CyberTouch for approximately a year.

This is due mainly to the company's aggressive plans to expand in the region.

"From the general market outlook, we need to be a big player," said Hsia, "and we need to be across Asia. And of course, when we get into north Asia, China, Beijing, Shanghai and Korea, we'll need significant amounts of funding to build a presence."

Within the next 6 months, Hsia expects the company's head-count to exceed 250.

Revenues for this year is expected to top US$10 million, a 150% increase from last year's US$3.5 million.

"Asia wants to see Asian e-consulting firms," said Hsia. "At the end of the day, people feel comfortable with us, because we understand the culture, we understand the language, we probably understand how they do business. And we probably have a flexible business scheme that can attract them to work with us."

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