SEEK’s Andrew Bassat named EY’s Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year

Nassim Khadem Reporter

Andrew Bassat named EY’s Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year

Published 22 November 2013 07:50, Updated 22 November 2013 09:10


SEEK co-founder and Australian EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Andrew Bassat. Photo: Jesse Marlow

The man who co-pioneered the online job marketplace SEEK, chief executive Andrew Bassat, is the 2013 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. Bassat co-founded SEEK with his brother Paul in 1997. The Bassats ranked at 155 on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 list, with a combined fortune of $315 million. Paul Bassat stepped away from the business in 2011– he left to build up his private investment company Avalon Place and to establish himself as a start-up investor at Square Peg Capital. Under Andrew Bassat’s leadership, SEEK has since become a $4.13 billion listed employment giant and changed the media landscape forever. SEEK began as an internet startup, with the aim of stealing employment classifieds from metropolitan newspapers. The Melbourne-based company is now the world’s largest online employment agency. “The idea for SEEK came back in 1997, when my brother was looking for a house,” Bassat says. “Going through the process, we realised how inefficient the existing classifieds system was and had a notion we could improve it.“We’d just started using the internet ourselves and recognised that once it became more mainstream it could provide a better way of doing anything that classifieds used to do, like looking for a house or, in SEEK’s case, finding a job.” On a personal level, he adds that he was “never a good employee” and always wanted to build something for himself.

From start-up to $4 billion company

Today SEEK has operations in Australia, New Zealand, China, South-East Asia, Brazil and Mexico, with more than 1 million job ads and about 275 million visits to its websites in any given month.

SEEK easily dominates the Australian online jobs market, with more than 150,000 jobs online and an average of 14.7 million visits each month.

According to the company’s 2013 annual report it’s responsible for in excess of 70 per cent of online ads – eight times the number of placements of SEEK’s combined competitors – although in recent years the growth of social media sites like LinkedIn have proved a challenge.

SEEK also has an education arm called SEEK Learning that’s been growing fast. SEEK Learning enrols about 50,000 students and provides education to another 20,000 students annually.

“All the businesses that we’re involved in or that we’ve started, including SEEK and all of our education and international businesses, are our babies,” Bassat says.

He puts SEEK’s success down to: “a willingness to continue to back ourselves, to remain entrepreneurial and to keep taking risks”.

As a listed company, the ability to do those things can get harder, because in the public “anything that even smells like a mistake can cause a lot of trouble,” Bassat says.

“There have definitely been hurdles along the way and times when it hasn’t been going so well, but I think the key to getting through that has been persistence.”

Over the next decade, Bassat hopes SEEK can continue to grow both in Australia and overseas. “I’d like to see our international businesses reach the level where we are now in Australia, across markets like China, South-East Asia, Mexico, Brazil and now Africa,” he says.

“To be an entrepreneur requires perseverance – recognising that there are no shortcuts. You need to have a good idea, but you also need to be able to push it forward, to believe in yourself and to keep going.”

Bassat took the award from a total of 27 national finalists at a gala awards ceremony in Sydney last night. He will travel to Monte Carlo next year to represent Australia at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, competing against national winners from more than 60 countries.

Chair of the judging panel and principal at boutique strategy consultancy Black House, Michael Smith, says the judges were very impressed with Mr Bassat’s persistence and determination which had seen him transform SEEK to dominate online ads.

“SEEK is a quality and transportable business which is already operating in other international markets and has the potential to have a significant global impact,” he says.

The 2013 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National winners, by category are:

Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year and Listed category, Andrew Bassat, SEEK

Emerging category, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, BlueChill

Industry category, Vanessa Garrard, E3 Style

Services category, KJM Contractors

Social entrepreneur, Professor Stephen MacMahon, The George Institute for Global Health

Technology category, Dale Carr, LeadBolt

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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