Our history is different. It informs who we are today, why we do what we do and why we think differently.
Catcha.com was formed in 1999 with the aim of building the largest online search engine/portal network in Southeast Asia. The business focused specifically on creating localised search engine/portals, often in collaboration with other local internet-based and content companies, and presenting the content in a simple, uniform way to internet users in key South-East Asian markets. The business further offered local and global search engine services to its users, as well as communication and community products such as free email, forums, chat and games. The profile of the business encouraged its investors, board of directors and advisors to pursue a listing on the Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX), approval for which was granted in 2000. Then the world changed.
In March of 2000, the market for internet-based businesses suffered greatly, with NASDAQ crashing as a result of the dotcom bubble bursting in spectacular fashion. Such weak sentiment severely affected our ability to attract continued investments, and we were forced to abort our listing plans. We were unable to raise money, we were unable to continue our operations in their existing form and we were deep in debt.
In order to survive, we diversified into magazine publishing by way of acquiring (in what seemed at the time to be a great idea) a bankrupt magazine title. Through sheer grit and determination, we made it work. Several years of licence acquisition and business acquisition exercises followed in order to build the scale of our publishing business. And after three years, everyone we owed money to got paid. We were back on our way.
In 2004, with debts paid and profitability no longer a strange concept, we completed a management buyout of all other shareholders. We took that gamble, then decided to work even harder than before to make it the right choice. We doubled the size of our publishing business again and began to plot our move back into online media.
In 2006, we began to make significant investments in online companies and ideas, both our own and those of other entrepreneurs. We aggressively pursued online classifieds businesses in our region, culminating in the acquisition of several businesses we then publicly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2007 as iProperty Group Limited. In 2011 we publicly listed our Asian online media content and advertising business, Catcha Media Berhad (now REV Asia Berhad), on the Malaysian stock market. In 2012, iCar Asia Limited, our ASEAN network of automotive portals, which encompasses car classified and content, was publicly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. In 2013, our Asian network of flash sales websites, Ensogo Ltd, made its ASX debut. In between we have invested in, acquired or merged over 25 other internet and digital media companies.
In May 2015, we launched iflix, Southeast Asia's leading Internet TV service. Now available in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand with plans to roll out across additional key Southeast Asian markets and other emerging markets globally. iflix offers subscribers unlimited access to tens of thousands of hours of top U.S., Asian regional, and local TV shows and movies, accessible for viewing anywhere, anytime.
In August 2016, Frontier Digital Ventures, leading operator of online classifieds businesses in frontier markets made its debut on the ASX. This marks a significant milestone for the Catcha Group, making it the fifth IPO that the Group has successfully implemented.
Today, Catcha Group holds over 60 investments, either directly or indirectly, as sole, majority or minority shareholders. We are planning to make each and every one a success.