Yat Siu is an entrepreneur and investor in the gaming industry, currently serving as the co-founder and CEO of Animoca Brands, with a focus on ensuring property rights for virtual assets. Prior to venturing into the blockchain industry, he led various web services companies in Hong Kong, including Cybercity (Freenations) and Outblaze.
Animoca Brands and Game Platform Development
From a young age, Yat Siu exhibited a strong passion for technology, a trait nurtured by his parents. His journey began in the 1980s when he acquired his first computer, a Texas Instruments model, and started programming. He posted his work on FidoNet, a popular network amongst early internet users for information exchange before the internet became widely accessible. While still in high school, Siu developed software for Atari ST computers, which didn't go unnoticed by Atari. After graduation, he joined Atari Germany, marking the onset of his professional journey.
Leveraging his experiences at Atari, Siu founded Cybercity in Hong Kong in 1996. Cybercity was a trailblazer, becoming the first Asian company to offer free web pages and email services, and thereby introducing the concept of complimentary web services to the region. Through Cybercity, Siu identified the vital importance of digital ownership, which subsequently shaped the philosophy of Animoca Brands, another company he founded.
In 1998, he went on to establish Outblaze, which evolved into a major supplier of messaging and social media solutions, amassing a vast user base across different language regions. Outblaze offered a host of social media features, such as email, calendar, file sharing, and contact management, empowering clients to retain full control over their brands via white-label services. Siu's notable contributions to Outblaze included the sale of its messaging and cloud computing division to IBM in 2009, paving the way for IBM's inaugural cloud computing research lab in Hong Kong.
Following the sale to IBM, Outblaze pivoted towards digital entertainment, resulting in the formation of Animoca Brands, launched by Siu in 2014. Under his stewardship, Animoca Brands produced successful game platforms including The Sandbox, REVV Racing, Arc8, and Crazy Defense Heroes, while also making investments in over 150 blockchain metaverse companies.
Vision for Metaverse and Digital Asset Ownership
In 2017, Yat Siu became cognizant of the promise held by blockchain technology and NFTs, steering his business decisively towards this arena. He saw NFTs as a pathway to authentic ownership within the digital sphere and aspired to foster an equitable and open metaverse that rewarded participation justly.
In a decisive step in 2018, he acquired The Sandbox to actualize the creation of an open metaverse. The Sandbox, a gaming and metaverse project, integrates a variety of NFTs, including 3D objects and virtual real estate, which collectively form the internal economy of the metaverse through intricate interaction between the SAND token and NFTs. Siu considered the sale of virtual real estate NFTs in The Sandbox as a pivotal stride towards realizing an open metaverse.
With a steady stream of significant advances, Animoca Brands joined the ranks of Hong Kong's unicorns as the 9th such company in 2021, and its market value rapidly climbed past $2.2 billion in October of the same year. Yat Siu's individual accolades include recognition as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" and "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum, and inclusion in CoinTelegraph's "Top 100 Notable People in Blockchain in 2021".
“We don’t play to beat each other, we play to become better for ourselves and to help one another in the collaborative spirit of Web3, as we share in the network effect that we are building together.” — “Glimpsing the future through the lens of days past: Part 2”
In a piece he wrote, Yat Siu expressed his concern that the progress towards Web 3.0 is being overshadowed by the misdeeds of a handful of unscrupulous players who have marred the industry's reputation. However, he underscored the importance of highlighting the positive facets of the industry, such as safeguarding creator royalties and the accomplishments of diverse projects, like The Sandbox alpha season. Both Yat Siu and Animoca Brands are of the strong belief that the current lukewarm market climate won't impede the growth of Web 3.0, open metaverses, NFTs, and virtual assets. They staunchly support the vision of Web 3.0, aimed at actualizing digital property rights and economic freedom, offering billions of internet users with unprecedented opportunities.