From creating the gaming mouse to an entire army of gaming peripherals, Razer Inc. has grown from a startup in a cramped San Diego, California office to the global brand which has taken over gaming and the way gamers view themselves. Razer could be viewed as nearly synonymous with Min-Liang Tan, it’s co-founder and leader of millions of gamers around the world who identify with his passion for gaming and creating nothing but the best equipment for it. While it all started in 2005 with the Razer gaming mouse, the Razer Boomslang… and Tan thought the company might only make one product… by 2017, the startup had earned more than $500 million in revenue.
Min-Liang Tan retains corporate headquarters in San Francisco and Singapore. He unabashedly admits that Singapore remains home and he’s kept headquarters there so that he can spend time living at home with his parents, who he adores. While he’s busy building the biggest and best gaming products business in the world, he still believes that spending time with his parents is one of the most important things he can do. This man has become the well-loved leader of Razer, and its ethos has attracted an extraordinary following of gamers who appreciate Min’s work and Razer’s products.
1. Min-Liang Tan worked as an attorney for the Singapore law firm Rajah & Tann before Razer was founded.
Tan told CNBC that his mother would tell her children that they should be doctors or lawyers. One sister, E-Ching, became a family physician; one sister, E-Fang, became a lawyer; his brother, Min-Han, became an oncologist; and Tan became a lawyer. He thought it was interesting that the siblings were evenly split, two and two, into the careers his mother had planned for them. Tan went on to graduate with an LL.B degree from the National University of Singapore Law School. Tan became a trained technology attorney working in the areas of intellectual property and technology. Tan gives his parents all the credit for what he has been able to achieve, naming them as the “most influential and important people” in his life.
2. The company was named Razer because co-founder Robert Krakoff had an accident with a razor blade one day.
Tan told the story in a MEGamers.com interview. The two were sharing a small office in San Diego, California with a few other gamers at the time. He said that what happened with the razor blade was a story for another day, but he also said that when the documents were submitted for the company’s incorporation, he didn’t have spellcheck on. That explains the unique spelling of the company name.
3. The Razer logo was based on the South African Boomslang snake.
Tan said that the founders knew that their product was going to dominate others. They considered what dominates mice, and knew it was snakes- who easily eat mice. They thought their product looked like it had just eaten a Logitech mouse for lunch. They decided to name their amazing new product after the South African Boomslang snake. After that, Tan and his team thought it was funny to name their all their mice products after poisonous snakes. The first Razer mouse used the same green color as the Boomslang snakes. Now some Razer mice are named Mamba, DeathAdder, Lancehead, and more Since their mice are named for snakes, it followed logically that their logo should, too. Today, gamers all over the world automatically recognize the Razer logo with its triple-headed, acid green snakes.
4. Tan prefers to be called Chief Gamer rather than CEO.
He also asks people to just call him Min. That also goes for his employees, who regularly refer to him as just Min. But Chief Gamer is for his gaming fans. He’s been gaming all his life and really views Razer as an opportunity to build a gaming community. He’s accessible to his fans, attending every opening event, and they know him as one of their own.
5. In 2013, one of Razer’s partners accidently left a 90% off test coupon offer online before the partner handed the store over to Razer.
The news that the coupon was online spread like wildfire through Facebook, Twitter, and social media and thousands of orders were placed within just one hour. All Razer products were offered at 90% off with this test coupon. Razer was covered legally, in that the coupon’s conditions stated that Razer could reject any orders. But the Razer team discussed the issue and decided that they wanted to bring the customer the very best possible experience. In the end, the decision was made to honor most of those fake coupons. Feedback concerning Razer’s generous decision went viral worldwide.
6. Min trashes thousands of imperfect products on a regular basis.
Razer has a goal of demanding perfection. Min told Steven Weathers on Minds of Millionaires, that it is a “no compromise perspective”. Razer products are developed in-house including concept design, mechanical engineering, and all the way through to the final design, with an admittedly “insane” amount of money spent on research and development. Min describes this as necessary for reaching the perfect intersection between technology and human ergonomics.
7. Min donated $10,000 to the Kickstarter project for Wasteland 2 because he’d played on a pirated copy of Wasteland when he was a kid.
Tan tweeted a message to Wasteland designer Brian Fargo to tell him that he hoped that the $10,000 would make up for his piracy. Fargo responded that he was indeed grateful for the donation and that it certainly made up for the past, and more. With the Wasteland fundraiser making more than $500,000 in the first 24 hours, it signaled the importance fans placed on this game. Tan had contributed to the highest possible donation tier. In exchange, an in-game shrine would be in the game and dedicated to him, and weapons, characters, and statues which would be built to honor him, as all other high-level donors. He also promised that he would give away his 50 free digital copies of the game through his Facebook page.
8. Loyal fans have the Razer logo tattooed on themselves.
The tattoos are considered a sign of permanent loyalty and many Razer fans show that depth of loyalty. Fans view Min as not only the CEO of their favorite company, but as the perfect gamer. He is popular throughout Asia with female and male gamers, and literally hundreds of them have Razer logo tattoos.
9. Razer corporate culture is called “One Razer”.
This corporate culture is evident in all offices around the world. Min wanted to build offices where he and his employees would want to work. He knew that gaming was viewed with a slightly negative reputation, as if gaming was all play and could not be real business. But he and his Team Razer felt that they could bring their passions toward creating a great place for gamers to work and an incredible business on top of that. This attitude allowed them to encompass all sorts of desires, such as riding their bikes or scooters to work, choosing to work from home on any given day, and have “absolute trust” that these things would be completely okay within the work environment. As long as workers get their work done, they are given some freedoms, such as selecting work arrival times, gaming while at work, taking naps at, or under their desks, and having lunches provided completely by the company.
10. All Team Razer employees must have a huge capacity for understanding that gaming is important to the world.
With a corporate log of “For gamers. By gamers”, Min is always on the lookout for incredible gamers who can become incredible employees. This belief also permeates the company and ranges anywhere from those who are passionate about eSport gaming to those who simply enjoy playing a simple game on a table. Min insists on having all Razer employees appreciate gaming. His first interview question is usually, “Are you a gamer?” His second interview question often is, “What’s your favorite game?” In fact, Razer employees spend at least one hour daily, on average, gaming and they often spend that time gaming online with Razer customers.
11. Min Liang Tan turns up as a Desert Ranger in Wasteland 2.
He’s portrayed as a tough Asian male and Ranger who is stationed at the Ranger Citadel. He wears a welding mask and when it’s flipped up it shows his friendly face, though he does have scars, burn marks, deep facial lines, everywhere on his head, neck and arms. His left hand is missing two fingers, but he still has his thumb and two remaining fingers. He’s a crazy character who creates experimental explosives and likes to play with bombs. Gamers are warned to avoid going into his room because he’s not always cautious with his bombs. Min interacts by purchasing excrement in all forms for reasonable prices. He also sells high end explosive weapons. Min is so popular that he appears as other characters in other gaming universes, too. Here’s a few more: He’s the Mayor of Ardoris, located on the Perennial Coast in the Shroud of the Avatar. He's the character of the priest and head of the Order of Truth in Sagus Cliffs in Torment: Tides of Numenera. He’s also the Minister of the Lotus in Ardoris in the Quests of the Avatar.
12. Min offered to help Elon Musk with getting Tesla introduced in Singapore.
It happened after Musk had attempted to introduce his Tesla Superchargers there and the government proved to be what Musk referred to as “not supportive of electric vehicles”. The Electric Vehicles are developed to charge extremely quickly. As of May 2018, the Superchargers were scheduled for roll-out in at least 32 countries, but Singapore wasn’t included. A fan Tweeted Musk asking for help with getting the Tesla cars into Singapore, and that was when Musk replied with his disappointment about the problems with the government. The fan did explain that the BlueSG from France was already in Singapore and Musk responded that even though the Singaporean government had proposed to study electric vehicles and their impact, Tesla had already become the best-selling car in Hong Kong. The debate had begun, and that’s when Min tweeted Musk with his offer of help. Min told Musk that he already had a Model 3 on order and asked Musk to let him know what could be done together to get things moving along in Singapore. Musk replied with thanks to Min and said that he’d check in with Team Musk.
13. RazerPay took giant steps toward becoming the single e-payment provider in Singapore.
The plans to launch RazerPay in Q1 of 2019 have been proposed more than a year ago, and Min’s goal has been to create a cashless economy for Singapore. Razer partnered with NETS Group and this allows RazerPay to be accepted on POS terminals unified with NETS throughout Singapore.The goals of creating support for the digital transactions service and providing ongoing development and advisory will be Razer’s part in the undertaking, though many traditional financial institutions in the country have opposed the plans. Razer plans to issue one million e-wallets by April 2019, and these will take on different forms such as a card with a stored value or a mobile wallet app. RazerPay is targeted toward Millenials and youth who can use their e-wallets to fill, transfer or pay money easily. It’s already been launched in Malaysia in a partnership with Berjaya Corporation.
14. Min met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to chat about developing gaming in Canada.
The two were reported to have discussed eSports, gaming, and developments about Canada’s FinTech; the financial tech innovation. All of these are included in Trudeau’s goals for engaging youth. Although Min tweeted about how much fun it was to chat with the Prime Minister, fans are still wondering what future news will bring about the exact details of the conversation. Min merely hinted that he was excited to know that much more would be available for young people to do in Canada in the future. What is known is that Min gifted Trudeau with a Team Razer customized jacket, and Razer souvenirs and peripherals.
15. Min doesn’t really care much for food.
In an interview for Lunch with Sumiko, he told her that he eats the same foods every day and that good foods are really wasted on him. He also doesn’t eat spicy foods, as evidenced by the fact that his chicken rice was missing chili sauce. They ate lunch in the dining area at Razer Asia Pacific, Block 514, Chai Chee Lane. He had previously offered to meet at MacDonald’s because he eats a lot of burgers there and likes them. But he changed plans and the two met at the Razer office instead. Along with the chicken rice on the Razer lunch menu that day was Rochor Beancurd tau huay and Pokka Mixed Berries. Lunch at Razor is a given, because Razer provides it for 800 employees around the world every day.
16. With more than 20 million connective devices shipped worldwide by 2016, and a massive software platform of 20 million gamers coming online daily, Razer began looking at helping other star-ups with a new Razer venture fund.
Min told TechCrunch that Razer had created a sort of cult brand. He acknowledged that their connected gamers were not only tattooing themselves, but they were setting up Razer shrines. Min described the huge core following as remaining gamers, following the company ethos of creating the best gaming culture in the world. Razer wanted to continue to focus on that ethos, but the mainstream world was starting to view Razer as the go-to spot for engaging in gaming entertainment. Min noted that gamers are tech savvy and the segment perfect for testing new technologies. This allowed Razer to consider ways to use its new venture fund to create better designs for the two billion gamers in the world at that time.
17. Min described Razer’s three-headed snake logo as the beacon and symbol for all gamers worldwide.
Some think it may be meaningful that Min was born in the Chinese zodiac year of the Serpent. But, Min was simply acknowledging Razer’s position as what he often calls “the biggest lifestyle brand in the world for gamers”. Though Razer started out with mice, it quickly expanded to offer design excellence in peripheral products including headsets, keypads, GPUs, keyboards and laptops. Other mainstream companies had not continued to innovate, while Razer edged into the mainstream, disrupting, as Min put it, the PC industry with the 2016 introduction of Blade Stealth, an award-winning laptop for mainstream users. The three-headed snake logo had become a badge of honor for gamers who understood that they were users of elite equipment with the mindset that they were associated with the best of the best.
18. Two e-Sports athletes from Team Razer Warcraft III bore the Olympic torch at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Jaeho “Moon” Jang and Xiao Feng “Sky” Li shared the honors as the Olympics made an historic nod to the importance of e-Sports within the competitive world of sporting. There were eight gamers selected in total.
19. Razer’s Team Liquid netted prize money totaling $11.8 million US in 2017.
Team Razer seeks to encourage elite gamers to develop themselves as part of a competitive e-Sports team. The team is comprised of a collective of e-Sports athletes and the best teams from around the globe. The team is united by a desire to daily put in 100% effort whether winning or losing. The 2017 team had grown to include 175 elite players from 30 countries. The Team Razer collective comprises more than 50 competitive gaming teams in 35 countries with a collective membership of more than 400 gamers.
20. Razer focuses on gaming attributes such as precision, focus and performance and these are shared with the wider entertainment audience.
Min told CNBC that because Razer has become one of the gaming world’s biggest brands, that it was possible for Razer to become one of the entertainment world’s biggest brands as well. He noted that Razer continues to have a desire for adventure, just like its considerable user base. He also said that constantly “trying to do cool stuff” was the company’s future. As eSports has continued to evolve, Razer has continued to meet the demand exceptional gaming products.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker