Barnes & Noble Computer Books
  CNET : Internet : Guidebook

Homegrown software
Is imported better?
An industry divided
Changes afoot
Softly into the future
 Useful Links
Microsoft Malaysia
Office home page  

Lists of Malaysian Software Companies
Useful links  

Software industry vital in Southeast Asian economies--study
From Newsbyte via Skali  

Homegrown software: the uphill battle to make a global impact

By Julian Matthews
August 27, 1999

Developing your own software in Malaysia is a lot of sweat and tears, and very often a labor of love. Ask Looi Hoong Thoong. He should know.

Looi started "playing around" with computer viruses in 1988, and on his own steam and imagination, sans a grant, bank loan or external seed money, came up with V-Buster, an anti-virus program which he began selling two years later.

"Although I started at around the same time as McAfee, one is a multi-millionaire and the other isn't. Guess who is the poorer one?" says Looi.

Nine years on, Looi still puts in 18-hour work days and takes home no salary. He is constantly tweaking V-Buster with antidotes to new viruses, answers up to 300 emails a day, attends to after-sales support personally and, sometimes, copies and packs the product himself.

Looi admits he isn't financially badly off. He is an architect by profession, drives a BMW and has interests in "lots of other businesses". "But the money I make is not from V-Buster," he qualifies.

The entrepreneur has 10 employees in his Penang office and a computer science graduate daughter who attends "to the usual small, not-so-important problems". In her, Looi hopes to leave his legacy--the V-Buster--to build on.

The Malaysian is a prime example that the homegrown software business is still very much a never-ending Holy Grail for anyone with an idea. The odds appear stacked against the person with such Camelot dreams. Indeed, the homegrown software industry is under-developed and has no official body to represent its interests.

Banks and financial institutions shy away from extending loans, while grants, incentives and venture capital are hard to come by. Piracy is rampant, and copyright laws inadequate. Marketing to the masses is a tough sell in the brand-conscious, foreign-biased local market, while foreign markets look with disdain at locally made software.

Looi was especially miffed when someone offered to market the V-Buster in the U.S. "The conditions were that all copy protection be removed. This would have killed me in Asia. A U.S. address was to be used with no reference to Malaysia, and the author of the program would be called 'H.T. Louis', " he says. This last condition made him sick to his stomach.

Looi stands by his product and says it is equivalent, if not better than, any product the West has churned out. But he has had limited success abroad, particularly since few foreign publications want to review the software.

V-Buster is currently in its ninth version and can detect 27,643 viruses. It can also automatically rebuild the boot sector and partition table of a crashed, inaccessible hard disk. The program has garnered a pool of loyal local corporate customers, including subsidiaries of multinationals such as Motorola, Intel, Siemens and Fujitsu.



Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.


Links: CNET USA CNET Singapore CNET Hong Kong CNET Taiwan CNET Malaysia CNET in Asia About Tricast Jobs at Tricast Snap!
   Home | Contact CNET Malaysia | Contact Ad Sales

Back to top

Copyright © 1998-99 Tricast (BVI) Limited. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1995-99 CNET, Inc. All rights reserved.