The SKALI Lagi (One More Time) book was written by one of SKALI’s co-founders, Tengku Farith Rithauddeen, who is also presently the group CEO.
The book was written to depict the rise and fall (rise again and so on) and the entrepreneurship journey of a small outfit in an urban city, which at one point, was seen destined for the graveyard after failing to remedy its collapsing financial situation.
While many people assume that the name SKALI was taken from the Malay word SEKALI (means once), the truth is, it was inspired by the popular, sexy X-Files character, Dana Scully.
Together with 2 friends, Aimi and Azmi, Farith co-founded ACIF Resources, a consulting firm specializing in IT and technology in the 90s. The very first SKALI project was conceived when ACIF team and another firm, Alam Teknokrat, met and study the possibility of setting up an Asian based mirror site for a search engine which at that time was growing in popularity, Alta Vista.
SKALI shrugged of intense competition especially from Singapore’s iconic company, SingTel to get that desperately wanted license to operate Alta Vista’s mirror site. The idea sounded pretty simple – create a website, bring in traffic, sell advertisements and make money. Soon enough, the team found out the harsh reality that things were easier said than done. Huge licensing fees, which exceeded US1 million dollars per year and other financial requirements, began to sink the company fast into the quicksand. Then the roller coaster ride began.
One of the main problems lies with SKALI was the management’s habit of chalking large sum of loans and investment without actually being successful in paying back or giving back returns as expected. Some loans were taken to cover other loans and losses. As accurately described in the book, what the guys were doing was “gali lubang, tutup lubang” (digging a hole to fill up another). At one time, angry workers began to leave the company in flocks after the company’s failure to abide to the salary payment and the 30- men strong company was reduced to only having a pity 2 loyal workers.
So far, SKALI has managed to shake off most challenges and surge forward, but at the same time continues to be a survivor today. And the struggle may never seem to end. SKALI Lagi sells in major bookstores at a retail price of RM21. An interesting read, but Farith should have written more.