Friday, November 29th, 2013

Publicly Acclaimed vs. Privately Secure

Publicly traded companies that have lost massive amounts of money in stock market are reportedly considering – as a strategic alternative – going private. Take Dell for example, which in recent years, has lost roughly half of its stock value. In an attempt to prevent further financial losses, founder Michael Dell finally took the company private, closing a $25 billion deal in October.

Private ownership is seen as a safe harbor where companies can take the time to make long-term strategic plans. It also allows management to make and implement these decisions free of the concerns and demands of investors and other stakeholders.

China Business Knowledge (CBK), a portal for information on China-based companies trading on the U.S. capital markets, recently put out a story about companies who choose to stay private, and it just so happens to profile our very own Shunee Yee, President and Co-founder of CSOFT International. The article has been copied below with permission from the publisher, Janet Stites:



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CBK PEOPLE–NOVEMBER 26, 2013

PUBLISHER’S NOTES: A Word About Those Who Choose to Stay Private

Dear Friends:

Much of what I do to compile the news for CBK Digest and CBK People is troll the newswire services, i.e. Business Wire, PR Newswire, Nasdaq’s GlobeNewswire (which, as an aside, confuses me as a journalist as I do not understand how an exchange has its own newswire–seems like a conflict and that the exchange is overstepping its role).

Luckily for me, public companies must distribute press releases not only on new products, awards, etc., but on financials, acquisitions, investments, executive management resignations, hires and board changes. This makes my job much easier. But recently I have been thinking that this also keeps the names of public companies and their executives in the news, adding to their “brand,” not just for sales, but for investor interest. Hence, public companies generally have higher profiles than similar, peer companies, which remain private and so do the executives which run them.

Case Study: CSOFT International Ltd. While CBK focused on China-based/U.S. listed companies, I routinely come across interesting private companies based in China which have not, and may never, go public. In the spring of 2012, I was asked to speak at the annual global summit of a company based in Beijing named CSOFT International Ltd. The company focuses on “globalization” (often also called “localization”), working with many Fortune 1000 companies on translations, consulting on cultural issues for products and services, and identifying government standards. As I understand it, sometimes all three are needed, such as advice on the size of a car seat, due diligence on regulations/standards per country for the car, and the translation of supporting material, whether it be the car’s owner’s manual or the small, informational stickers inside a car door indicating its optimal tire pressure.

CSOFT has 14 offices across Asia, Europe and America, with key production centers in Japan, Germany, and China.  It has 450 full-time employees. Additionally, it has 6,000+ in-country linguists, cultural specialists, and industry professionals. It can provide translating services in 100 languages. This year it has been celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Founder: Shunee Yee

At the helm of the company is co-founder Shunee Yee. I am fairly certain you would already know her name if CSOFT was a public company. Indeed, she has been getting some very impressive press in the last few years. She received a Stevie Award for Best Asian Entrepreneur for Women in Business (which is a bit short-sighted because she is probably one of the top entrepreneurs in Asia, no matter her gender). She was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the technology industry’s 36 most powerful “disrupters,” and most recently, was selected as one of Fortune’s 2012 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.

Yee has feet in both the East and the West. She holds a B.A. degree from Nanjing Normal University, a Master’s degree from Rhode Island College, and completed a senior executive program at Harvard Business School. She cut her teeth in the “globalization/localization” field, working at Lionbridge Technologies in Boston.

It’s my impression that CSOFT is not considering a public offering at this time. It makes one wonder if consulting-type companies such as Longtop Financial Technologies might still be around if, they too, had not rushed to the market. Maybe had they grown organically and built a more solid business foundation rather than spending their energy as entrepreneurs fixing the books to look better for investors, the executives would be making still enviable salaries, building out new products and services and enjoying their trade. Indeed, to my point, Longtop did get a lot of press as a public company and most people who read CBK know the name “Derek Palaschuk.”  Be careful what you wish for.

And good luck to Yee and her team for the next decade.

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