Cheryl (Yeoh) Sew Hoy
Cheryl (Yeoh) Sew Hoy
Cheryl at Brain Bar Budapest, June 2016
|Born||May 31, 1983|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur and speaker|
|Known for||Founding CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC)|
|Co-Founder of Reclip.It, acquired by Walmart Labs in 2013|
Cheryl (Yeoh) Sew Hoy (born May 31, 1983) is an entrepreneur, speaker and angel investor, best known for being the Founding CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), a government-funded agency to support entrepreneurship in Malaysia and ASEAN.
She co-founded Reclip.It, which was acquired by Walmart Labs in 2013. Yeoh served as an Independent Board of Director of Flexiroam Limited (ASX:FRX), an Australia-based telecommunications company from 2016-2018. She is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Silicon Valley Bank, and an advisor to various startups including blockchain infrastructure company Tendermint, the team that built Cosmos Network and Kenzie Academy.
Yeoh is the founder of the #movingforward campaign which encourages VCs to commit to a diverse, inclusive and harassment free workplace. She was listed in TIME magazine's "2017 Person of the Year," as the 13th "Silence Breaker," who spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Early life and education
Born and raised in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Yeoh is the eldest daughter of Audrey Chan & Allen Yeoh. Yeoh was a valedictorian at Seaport High School and went on to receive a full scholarship from the Public Service Department of Malaysia (JPA) to study in United States of America when she was 18.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. At Cornell University, she was inducted into a secret honor society called The Sphinx Head. In university, she was most known for being the chaperon to Sage Chapel for four years and for her efforts in introducing the labyrinth concept to the university for students’ psychological and health benefits. She subsequently received the Lester Knight scholarship to pursue her masters in Engineering Management, also at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
In 2010, Yeoh and her co-founder founded her first start-up CityPockets, the very first digital wallet and secondary marketplace for daily deals. CityPockets was among 7 startups selected to participate in an accelerator in North Carolina called LaunchBox Digital.
Some users called CityPockets the "mint.com and ebay for daily deals." The technology supported over 50 of the top daily deal sites including Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, Gilt City, Bloomspot, Google Offers, Restaurant.com and Zozi. CityPockets was featured prominently in many news and media sites including Fox News, ABC7, CNN, WSJ, Forbes, Netted by the Webbys, TechCrunch, GigaOm, AllThingsD, Lifehacker, CNET, Mashable, and TheNextWeb.
At the beginning of Yeoh’s startup journey, she was known to be a scrappy startup entrepreneur where she crashed in a friend’s living room futon for 5 months and put herself on a “kale and quinoa” diet in order to maintain a food budget of $35 a week. Yeoh eventually raised $770,000 from venture capitalists and angel investors in New York in 2011.
Reclip.It (acquired by Walmart Labs)
When the daily deal space started consolidating, Yeoh shut down CityPockets and pivoted the company to launch Reclip.It in 2012. Reclip.It is a personalized list-making app featuring weekly ads and digital coupons from top retail stores like Walmart, Macy's, Walgreens, Target, BestBuy, Home Depot, CVS, etc. Reclip.It was selected by Instyle Magazine as "2012 Best of the Web," mentioned as the #1 tool to Shop Smarter on Daily Tekk, and also featured on TechCrunch, Huffington Post, FastCompany, USA Today, Xconomy, and Forbes.
In Spring of 2013, Reclip.It was acquired by Walmart Labs. While the sale amount was not disclosed, Yeoh was reported by the media to be one of nine self-made women millionaires who are making a difference to the US economy. The startup had previously received funding from 500Startups, Great Oaks Venture Capital and angel investors in Silicon Valley and NYC, bringing the total funding to just over $1M.
Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC)
In April 2014, Yeoh was headhunted by the government of Malaysia and appointed CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), leaving her career in Silicon Valley to return to Malaysia and contribute to her home country. MaGIC was given an initial grant of US$21.4 million  and was launched by former President Barack Obama and Malaysian's former Prime Minister Najib Razak on 27 April 2014.
In her time at MaGIC, Yeoh launched programs such as the Malaysia Accelerator Program (MAP), bringing together startups across ASEAN, 500Startups’ Distro Dojo, the MaGIC Academy and also inked a 3-year partnership with Stanford University and Techstars, where she created immersive programs as a bridge for entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia to be exposed to the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.
MaGIC’s Board of Directors include Mark Chang, Founder of Jobstreet, Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500Startups, Sajith Sivanandan, Managing Director of Google Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and New Emerging Markets, and Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, Axiata Group CEO and President.
Yeoh announced that she was stepping down from her position at MaGIC in January 2016,.
Other work and ventures
In 2015, Yeoh invested in BloomThis, a startup in Southeast Asia. Yeoh is also an investor and advisor for NEXT Academy, a coding school based in Malaysia that received US$300,000 in 2016 as seed investment from 500 Startups to focus on educational technology.
Yeoh is frequently invited to speak at global conferences and has spoken in the UK, Croatia, Hungary, Australia, Japan, India and Hong Kong. She recently spoke at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) 2016 in Silicon Valley alongside President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. In 2015, Yeoh represented Malaysia in a debate for Innovation Awards & Summit by The Economist in Hong Kong. Yeoh was a keynote speaker for 7th World Chinese Economic Forum held in London, United Kingdom in 2015. In December 2013, Yeoh delivered a TEDxKL speech titled "Success begets passion, not the other way around.”
In February 2016, Yeoh moved back to San Francisco, CA and was the Chief Marketing Officer of Hack Reactor based in San Francisco, before they were acquired by Galvanized. She also served as an Independent Board of Director of Flexiroam Limited (ASX:FRX), an Australia-based telecommunications company from 2016-2018, angel invests and advises tech companies through her consulting work.
As an immigrant to the United States, Yeoh is an avid supporter of immigration reform as a way to boost economic growth and create jobs for Americans.
In August 2016, Yeoh won the Best Social Media Influencer Award by Malaysian Rice Bowl Startup Award, and has been included on various lists recognizing her achievements by publications and universities, including Prestige Malaysia's Top 40 under 40, the Golden Globe Tiger Awards in 2015 for Women Leadership, Malaysia's Top 10 Most Impactful Young Leaders Award 2015 by UCSI and Great Women of Our Time in 2014 by Women's Weekly.
In March 2013, Yeoh was selected as one of ten Global Ambassadors to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro on charity fundraiser, and her story was featured in a book about women who have climbed the mountain. In 2012, Yeoh was featured as the Top 10 Women in Digital Award 2012 by L'Oreal.
In May 2017, Yeoh married Jason Sew Hoy, COO of 99designs who is great grandson to Charles Sew Hoy, a notable New Zealand merchant, Chinese leader and gold-dredger. The two first met on 8 September 2015 when Sew Hoy was invited to speak at the MaGIC Academy Symposium 2015 as a keynote speaker. The couple currently lives in Oakland, CA with their daughter.
Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley
In 2017, Yeoh came forward and published her account of the sexual harassment she experienced in 2014. Yeoh’s claims were against Dave McClure who had recently resigned from 500 Startups after allegation by another woman. In the account, posted online after founder Sarah Kunst and Susan Yin’s accusations, Yeoh alleges that McClure repeatedly harassed her while in Malaysia. In an interview to the BBC, she recounted the incident stating, “I felt like it wasn't a rare thing, it was considered normal in the start-up world, the tech world".
In a follow up interview, Yeoh announced that she would not be pressing charges against McClure as her main goal was to raise awareness about sexual harassment and abuse of power, specifically in the tech world.
Following the release of her account, Cheryl Yeoh worked with co-founder Andy Coravos to establish the #MovingFoward public directory. The #MovingFoward directory includes dozens of tech oriented top tier venture capital firms that have posted their reporting contacts and have publicly committed to a protocol of improving anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, diversity and inclusion measures in the workplace. Launched to coincide with international Women’s Day in May 2018 the movement is specifically aimed at giving young entrepreneurs who are often reluctant to speak out against investors, a forum where they may speak openly about harassment.
- "CEO Cheryl Yeoh Lays Out MaGIC's Ingredients".
- "Cheryl Yeoh joins telco startup-Flexiroam".
- "Cheryl Yeoh MaGIC Legacy".
- "44 Female Founders Every Entrepreneur Should Know".
- O'Brien, Sara Ashley. "MovingForward: How to report harassment in tech". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
- "Exhibition brings concept beneficial labyrinths campus".
- CityPocketsVideos (2011-11-28), CityPockets on Good Day NY (Fox5)!, retrieved 2016-10-23
- CityPocketsVideos (2011-10-13), Cheryl on ABC7 Live TV, retrieved 2016-10-23
- "Bootstrapping a Business on Kale and Quinoa". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- Heussner, Ki Mae (2012-05-10). "Closure of CityPockets provides window onto shakeout in daily deal business". gigaom.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "CityPockets, Reborn as Reclip.it, Puts a Pinteresting Spin on Saving | Xconomy". Xconomy. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "Young, Self-made and Millionaire - Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference to US Economy (Part 1)". www.fatbit.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "CEO chosen, MaGIC to get a dose of Silicon Valley". Digital News Asia. 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". www.techinasia.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "Announcing Distro Dojo Malaysia 2016 | 500 Startups". 500.co. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "Whatever I work on in the future will have global impact: Cheryl Yeoh". e27. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- Skoll.org (2016-06-30), Skoll Foundation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 | Highlights, retrieved 2016-10-23
- TEDx Talks (2014-03-24), Success begets passion, not the other way around: Cheryl Yeoh at TEDxKLWomen 2013, retrieved 2016-10-23
- Xhin, Pang Ven (2016-09-30). "I Choose You: Ex-MaGIC CEO Cheryl Yeoh Joins Telco Roaming Provider Flexiroam". Vulcan Post. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "Cheryl Yeoh - Partnership for a New American Economy". Partnership for a New American Economy. 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- Vaikjärv, Janika (2015-12-15). Dreamers & Doers: A collection of inspirational stories, life-changing moments and acts of kindness. Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.
- "Class of 2012 - L'Oréal Women". lorealwomenindigital.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
- "The Long-term Cost of Sexual Harassment".
- "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". www.techinasia.com. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "Employee email claims 500 Startups leadership delayed acknowledging McClure's harassment, as new allegations surface". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- Kleinman, Zoe (2017-07-06). "Sexual harassment 'at the highest level'". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "Cheryl Yeoh: Why now, and why I'm not pressing charges - Nation | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "Some venture capital firms are publicizing their sexual harassment policies for the first time". Recode. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "This Confidential Method of Reporting Sexual Harassment Identifies Serial Predators". Inc.com. 2018-03-22. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- O'Brien, Sara Ashley. "MovingForward: How to report harassment in tech". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-10-24.