KUALA LUMPUR: No-frills mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Tune Talk Sdn Bhd, which is owned by Tune Ventures Sdn Bhd, has appointed local musician and producer Jason Lo as its chief executive officer.
The position is new, as previously, the public face of the company was its chief talker Singaporean Gurtaj Singh Padda, formerly from Lucent Technologies. Sources said Gurtaj would remain a shareholder in the company.
When contacted, Lo confirmed that he was appointed in early November. His appointment progressed from a discussion with AirAsia Bhd group chief executive Datuk Tony Fernandes, who has a 40% stake in the privately owned Tune Ventures.
“I was with Tony one night in discussion; I’ve known him since he was at Warner. The position came up and it was suggested through some of the other shareholders that I look at the position,” he said.
“I looked at the management team which I found very capable and where Tune Talk fitted into the industry. I wanted to know what it was all about before I said ‘yes’,” he added.
Lo is expected to be announced as the new CEO of Tune Talk at an event tomorrow when the company is scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding with Celcom (Malaysia) Bhd here.
Tune Talk operates on a model where it buys network capacity from an existing operator to offer mobile services. It has said that it plans to become the first pan-Asean MVNO by expanding to Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Phillippines.
It has applied, but yet to receive its network services provider licence. It is believed to be in the final stages of getting the licence soon. It plans to offer basic pre-paid voice and short message service packages to consumers.
On why he chose to venture into an industry that he had no prior experience in, Lo said: “I find it a challenge and I thought I’d try my hand at it. Once I learned what the business model was about, it was an interesting proposition.”
“I’ve always been interested in the communications industry, I’ve had first hand experience with management teams in looking for sponsorships and it’s a tough industry,” he added.
Despite the challenges ahead, Lo believed his experience in the music industry will bring value to the position.
“Tony appreciates the challenges that the local music industry faces. Although revenues are not that great, it [the industry] does teach you to think differently,” he said.
“I managed to build Fat Boy Records into a strong event company, created and organised the “Rock The World” concerts. We’ve built our services around the communications industry.
“I’m switched on enough to have enough common sense to look at good opportunities,” he added. Apart from being known in the industry as a musician and producer, Lo, along with politician Khairy Jamaluddin, is behind the MyTeam football project.
Asked what his immediate goals for the company would be in his new capacity as CEO, Lo counted structuring the company, putting in place its budgeting for the coming year and executing the rollout of its services among the top priorities. This would also include ramping up the company’s headcount.
He added that the company was on track for the rollout of its services by the first quarter of next year. “It is proceeding as planned.”
Tune Talk’s majority shareholder is Tune Ventures, which is owned by Fernandes (40%), Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (30%), Dennis Melka (25%) and Tune Strategic Investment (5%).
Meanwhile, Woon Wu Lin reported that REDtone International Bhd does not see itself as competing against MVNO products offered by Tune Talk as both companies are targeting separate markets.
“Our product is for the needs of mass enterprise (such as) shops to small and medium enterprises,” REDtone group managing director Wei Chuan Beng said told The Edge Financial Daily, adding that Tunetalk was targeting the mass market.
MVNOs are companies that tie up with mobile network operators (MNO) to offer mobile phone services as MVNOs do not have frequency allocation nor infrastructure to provide the service. Instead, it purchases minutes wholesale and retails them to consumers.
REDtone recently partnered Celcom (M) Bhd to operate Malaysia’s first MVNO in the postpaid segment for enterprise customers. It is also targeting to roll out the service in the first quarter of next year.