The Brave Ones

The CEO of a gaming firm thought his company would only make one product. It’s now raking in $500 million a year

Min-Liang Tan, CEO of gaming company Razer
Roslan Rahman | Getty Images
Key Points
  • Min-Liang Tan founded Razer in 2005 with one product: a mouse for gaming
  • Razer made more than $500 million in revenue in 2017
Min-Liang Tan, CEO of gaming company Razer
Roslan Rahman | Getty Images

Entrepreneur Min-Liang Tan made a computer mouse especially for gamers and thought that would be all his company would sell.

Back in 2005, he founded gaming hardware business Razer with Robert Krakoff and launched the Diamondback mouse, testing it out on his friends.

Fast-forward to 2018 and the company still makes mice, but has added gaming keyboards, headsets and laptops and has more than 40 million users on its software platform. It made $517.9 million in revenue in 2017 and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in November, raising $528 million.

"Candidly, I don't think we even had a thought that this would last anything beyond a single product. We're now the number one … in the U.S., Europe, China for all gaming peripherals (hardware) at this point of time," Tan told CNBC's "The Brave Ones."

A 2005 Razer Copperhead gaming mouse
John B Carnett | Getty Images

Tan produced the company's first mouse after testing it out on his friends. "One of the most important weapons in a gamer's arsenal is the mouse. You know, something as banal or as humble as the gaming mouse, that's what we kind of conceived it to be. We pinged our friends and said: 'Who wants one of these — the world's first gaming mouse?' And we went out there. It was probably one of the earliest forms of crowd sourcing, it just took off," he said.

The company's mice are named after snakes. "We said: 'What kind of name would it be that would destroy the competition, would eat up all the competition?' I said, 'What eats mice? Snakes.' So, boom. We started from there. We used names of snakes for our mice. Diamondback, copperhead, mamba, et cetera," Tan told "The Brave Ones."

A Razer Mamba wireless mouse with adjustable "click force" is listed at $149.99 on its website.

The Brave Ones: Min-Liang Tan airs at 2300 CET on May 23 2018.

Gaming on mobile phones is taking off
Gaming on mobile phones is taking off

Correction: The headline of this story has been changed to reflect that Razer had $500 million in revenue in 2017.