Circles.Life today announced one of the biggest-ever pre-IPO employee stock buybacks in Southeast Asia worth US$5 million. Circles.Life’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan grants all full-time employees significant stakes in the company and the ability to sell vested stocks at regular intervals. The tech company leading digital transformation of the global telco vertical attributes its success to this strong focus on employee ownership. Some employees are set to reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in this liquidity round after working just a few years with the company.
On average, Circles.Life holds these ESOP liquidity events every 18 months. The last round was completed in July 2020. The telco tech pioneer has significantly sweetened the deal this time round by inviting all employees with over a year’s tenure to participate. A move rarely seen amongst tech providers in Asia with many enforcing multi-year minimum vesting rules. All employees who indicated interest in this round were able to participate in the liquidity event.
Employees receive two months’ base pay worth of stock options each year. This is on top of their basic salary component and performance bonus. Top performers, also known as Space Explorers in Circles.Life, are awarded an additional six-month’s worth of stocks vested immediately. Their total compensation often exceeds that of peers working for global tech giants. Several Space Explorers have even achieved this feat in multiple years.
Since making its debut in Singapore in 2016, Circles.Life has become the fastest-growing digital telco operator in the region. As part of its aggressive growth plan, the telco tech company has been making inroads into new markets, rolling out in Taiwan and Australia in 2019, and launching in Indonesia in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. In September, Circles.Life inaugurated its next-gen, cloud-native telco operating system Circles X in Japan, powering KDDI Corp’s transformation with the unveiling of digital telco brand, povo2.0, and quickly setting new benchmarks for customer experience and product innovation in the market.Circles.Life is looking to build on this landmark success by taking Circles X to additional markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. To achieve its global growth ambitions, the company recently appointed a new Chief People Officer and embarked on a mega hiring drive to grow its Singapore core of tech and innovation talent.
“Today’s announcement of our biggest-ever ESOP liquidity event is just another example of how we’re building on the success of our business which has grown over 50-fold since launch, while finding opportunities to give back to our most important asset, our employees. These regular liquidity rounds are our way of celebrating our people and allowing them to participate in the success of the company. At Circles.Life, we value ownership and want every single one of our employees to think, feel and behave like owners who can make a meaningful contribution to our success. Our ESOP programme is unique in that it grants our employees the flexibility to cash out early and enjoy the fruits of their hard work, while paving the way for them to own an even bigger slice of the company as we accelerate on our exciting hyper-growth phase. We want to continue setting the benchmark for how ESOPs are done, and perhaps one day even go one better than the global tech giants in Silicon Valley.”Rameez Ansar, Co-Founder of Circles.Life