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How Shopee Started?

Shopee is a tech-forward, consumer-focused eCommerce platform in Southeast Asia that has grown in popularity in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and elsewhere. It aims to give access to a vast array of products and, much like eBay or Amazon in North America, allows both individual sellers and established businesses to sell on their platform.

Company History

Shopee is a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace that launched in Singapore in February 2015. The asset-light platform claims to make online buying easy and safe for buyers and sellers.

App-based platform established website to compete with Coupang, Lazada, Tokopedia, and AliExpress. Shopee's exclusive escrow programme, Shopee Guarantee, allows buyers to delay payment until they receive their products.

Shopee's six-story regional headquarters opened 3 September 2019 in Singapore Science Park. The new 244,000-square-foot structure can house 3,000 employees and is six times larger than Shopee's former Ascent Building headquarters. Shopee leased the space from WeWork.

Shopee Founder

Forrest Li or Li Xiaodong was born 43 years ago in Tianjin, China. Li chose to relocate to Singapore and acquire Singaporean citizenship. Bloomberg reports that Li attended Shanghai University for engineering studies. During his college years, Li frequently spent his evenings in internet cafes playing video games.

Li then continued his education at Stanford University and earned a Master of Business Administration degree. Li was dubbed "Forest" on campus because his professors had difficulty pronouncing his name. Li selected the name after viewing the Tom Hanks movie Forrest Gump.

In 2009, Li founded Garena with assistance and funding from the Chinese behemoth Tencent. A short time later, Garena changed its name to Sea Ltd., which stands for Southeast Asia (Southeast Asia), the region in which Garena was founded. Then, Sea developed an e-commerce business, resulting in the birth of Shopee. Additionally, the company has offered the financial service AirPay, which was later renamed SeaMoney.

Shopee Struggle

Shopee isn't profitable despite a year-over-year improvement in gross profit margin in 2022. This is due to higher transaction costs and ad revenue. Shopee sacked employees in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam in June 2022 due to rising pricing, borrowing rates, and internationalisation difficulties.

ShopeePay and ShopeeFood may see cuts. On 15 September 2022, Sea's CEO Forrest Li outlined the company's "self-sufficiency" cost-cutting initiatives.

The measures include expenditure restrictions and a temporary suspension of executive pay. Singapore, Indonesia, and China also announced layoffs.

Aggressive Marketing which Backfires

In 2018, Shopee named South Korean girl group Blackpink as its first regional brand ambassador. In October of the same year, Got7's Bambam was named brand ambassador in Thailand. Cristiano Ronaldo is Shopee's regional brand ambassador. The partnership was announced on Shopee's 9.9 Super Shopping Day.

In June of 2019, the hashtag #ShopeeScam was trending on Twitter after Shopee released a promotion in the Philippines offering passes to a meet-and-greet with Blackpink to the top 568 spenders in their online store.

Several fans reported receiving notifications that they had won tickets, which Shopee subsequently unilaterally retracted. Others published screenshots demonstrating that Shopee altered the contest rules the day before the event. The Department of Trade and Industry investigated Shopee for the incident.


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