KUALA LUMPUR, 26 June 2000 - Software entrepreneur Keng Lim is aggressively plowing back investments into his Asian roots with new vehicle Escalate.com and plans to open up in at least five countries by year-end.
The Malaysian-born Lim, who founded and sold Kiva Software Corporation to Netscape Communications for a cool US$180 million in 1997, told ZDNet Asia his initial target markets are Japan, Korea, Greater China, Southeast Asia, Australia and India.
"We have established operations in Japan, and are in active discussion with leading players to enter the Korean and Greater Chinese markets. We are also in the process of establishing a development center in Southeast Asia," said Lim.
Lim describes Escalate.com as the first e-commerce applications service provider, or ESP. The company enables both new dot-coms and established corporations to outsource their entire e-commerce infrastructure and start selling products and services online within six weeks to three months at significantly reduced costs.
"We found in late 1998 that more and more corporations were fed-up of paying high up-front costs for their e-commerce solutions, and with promised benefits only showing up nine months to a year down the road," said Lim.
"We decided to significantly change the economics, and to offer an outsourced, end-to-end solution at 20 percent the cost of doing it in-house, and enable clients to go to the market very quickly with expert backing."
Lim set up Escalate Inc in January 1999 with three long-term collaborators from his Kiva days and has since raised US$45 million in working capital from firms such as Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and the Barksdale Group, headed by former Netscape chairman Jim Barksdale.
The 34-year-old MIT-trained Lim has proven to be software Midas in his short career. He first honed his entrepreneurial bravado as one of the five original developers of a database software company called Approach Software, which was eventually sold to Lotus Development in 1993.
In 1995, he pioneered the development of the Kiva Application Server, the first enterprise-class software product that enabled secure and reliable transactions over the Internet.
When Kiva was acquired by Netscape, Lim played a significant role in legitimizing his new employers enterprise product family and deployed high-transaction e-commerce sites for clients such as Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank, Ford, FedEx and E*Trade.