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Cooler Master: Venturing out into ecosystems to be tomorrow's economy

Annjil Chong, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Providing an ecosystem is sometimes all it takes. Instead of holding on to all its resources tightly, Cooler Master builds an oasis where startups, creators, marketers, distributors, buyers as well as its resources, work together to form a bubble of life.

Founded in 1992, Cooler Master started as a hardware supplier. It gradually evolved into a technology group that integrates R&D, manufacturing, and retail.

"The ecosystem will be a future application. It's no longer about one type of product anymore as Internet mobility has taken the world by storm," said Jimmy Sha, CEO of Cooler Master. "Different types of devices will induce an immersive experience. This combined ecosystem and immersive experiences we hope to deliver to our users someday."

In an interview by Elisa Chiu, CEO of Anchor Taiwan, for the 8th Asia Venturing webcast, Sha disclosed Cooler Master's tactics on "How to innovate with GenZ through partnering and investing." This event was jointly powered by DIGITIMES and Anchor Taiwan, shedding light on the importance of the ecosystem economy.

The 'maker' spirit hardwired into its brand's DNA

Cooler Master is a "maker" company, fueled by founder Roger Lin's character. Remarks by one of the greatest conductors in the 20th century, Herbert von Karajan, resonate most with the company: "Those who have achieved all, their aims probably set them too low."

In Sha's own words, "There is no best, only better." These two quotes are nothing more than "boundless".

The brand's philosophy then transmits into unstoppable momentum, and pushes the computer hardware manufacturer to explore, whether it be product design, marketing, or industrial territory. And it goes beyond that.

'Noise' reflects GenZ's personality

Generation Z (GenZ) is shaping the way that every other generation communicates and should never be underestimated. More particularly, this generation brings their thoughts to life through advanced technology, which could be called 'noise.'

Noise reflects GenZ's personality. GenZ chose authenticity in this entrancing, bittersweet mix of originality and anodyne.

Cooler Master adores noise. "They're having a difficult time expanding their portfolio or getting into any channel to showcase their prototype," Sha pointed out.

"We'd like to help them through sharing our technology," he added. "For example, by integrating Cooler Master's thermal solution can help them improve their original idea and make their prototype better. Then, they can scale it up for our users or community."

In short, the partnership with GenZ gives another fillip to Cooler Master's ecosystem.

The annual Cooler Master's Mod World Series (CMWS)

"CMWS is a project that offers a platform for creators to express themselves and share their creative endeavors. It enables them to showcase their abilities and interact with people from all over the world. They enjoy being able to nurture their creativity and influence others at will, just like the platform promises it can," Sha explained.

Cooler Master coined the term "mod" to replace "modification." Mod denotes to modify in terms of aesthetics and functionality.

"Modding," on the other hand, refers to modifying the PC casing. For example, the creator can use tape to express their creativity on the PC casing.

Another term is "light modding." It means to light up the PC's case with rays of light.

Not only does the performative PC itself is credible as a piece of art, but also the objective of the Cooler Master's Mod World Series (CMWS). "That is one of our missions as well, to make people have the everyday tech lifestyle," he added.

Credit: DIGITIMES

Jimmy Sha, CEO of Cooler Master; Credit: DIGITIMES

Blend into the local communities

"Besides the maker spirit, localization is also part of our culture," Sha said. "Back then, we were highly dependent on our distributors. They were taking the lead in market penetration and activities."

"Sometimes, we were frustrated by their opinion, even though our products were already sophisticated. However, they know the market well. We were willing to be a follower," he continued.

Eventually, Cooler Master realized that this was an unmet knowledge gap and proposed they join its forces. Fast forward to 2022, the combined forces are now allocated across regions to carry out Cooler Master's "localizing" operation.

"The meaning of localizing is that we want to tap into the local market and understand it better," Sha explained.

For example, COVID-19 was a pandemic that peaked in 2020 and impacted most students around the world. Cooler Master had their purple truck, called "Master Ride" stopped by schools on their campus during the pandemic to allow students to get an experience with their products physically.

"On the other hand, localizing is also coming out with product marketing and product development," he continued.

User-generated content is not a new concept in the Internet of Everything era. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers say that they're more likely to trust personal recommendations over ads.

Cooler Master engages with key opinion leaders (KOL) as they are the experts in their fields and careers. That professional expertise gives them credibility, authenticity, and influence when they promote products or services.

KOL, for instance, will mod Cooler Master's PCs alongside creators in the Cooler Master's Mod World Series.

"A complete ecosystem couldn't leave anyone behind, including the resellers and distributors to make things happen," Sha emphasized.

Heat spurred the greatest outburst of creativity

When a Japanese electronic-device manufacturer meets one of the world's biggest laptop cooling manufacturers, the birth of a vapor chamber with a thickness of only 200um for electronics devices marks the close partnership between Murata and Cooler Master.

Even with advancements in electronics, heat can still be a big issue. That is why it is crucial to have efficient cooling systems and ways to disperse heat that increase the life span of your electronics.

Conventional heat dispersion components such as graphite sheets and heat pipes cannot provide sufficient heat dissipation because of the high-density designs of new-generation electronics devices.

In addition, mobile devices with advanced features are highly constrained on the space available for heat dissipation, as they could have very large circuit footprints and still be lightweight. Therefore, vapor chambers are needed due to the need for effective airflow in compact areas.

With cooperation in product development between companies, Cooler Master installed facilities with the same conditions as those at Murata headquarters and vice versa. The facility project is planned for completion during the second half of this year.

Venture into the world of startups

Cooler Master is moving to a new lifestyle - the tech lifestyle. And yet, there are still many areas of it that need improvement. "You can build it yourself or you can find talents and get them into the company and then start from scratch. However, there are plenty of startups out there, they're already doing that," Sha said.

"Some of the startups have brilliant ideas, and they are making money. We have marketing and channel facilities that Cooler Master can provide them. However, we also need that kind of the skill and capability or the resources in order to reach the tech lifestyle of the ecosystem that we are trying to hit, then that is how we started."

Cooler Master is not a conventional venture capitalist. It has stuck with its loyalty for the past two years and continues to support its "clan" stakeholder in competitive times. Sha highlighted, "Our original thinking is not just about financing funding: we just financing them and then when they're mature, they go for the IPO, then we get the money back. No, we are not doing that."

The computer hardware manufacturer believes in the longevity of their company and its "clan" of stakeholders. Indeed, Cooler Master is interested in finding a partner to work with for the long-term and who shares similar objectives. Designing products or services would be helpful and allow the company to improve its products for the benefit of users.

In a nutshell, Cooler Master's case has come to mean something: In the ecosystem economy, hope and hype spring eternal, at least as long as the sharing interest remains high and capital is essentially free.

About Asia Venturing

Asia Venturing is a series of monthly roundtables with roadmaps to the future focusing on the hype v.s. the reality of Asia's supply chain-boosted innovation ecosystem, jointly powered by DIGITIMES and Anchor Taiwan. We bring together leading industry luminaries, corporate strategists, experienced investors, and entrepreneurs to expand your network and redefine the possibilities of cross-border opportunities. The replay of the latest session can be seen on DIGITIMES or Anchor Taiwan)