Dropbox's Head of Asia, James Ang

In this piece, the author, James Ang, Head of Asia, Dropbox, covers the following:

  • How factors such as mental health prioritisation and reassessing of life goals have led to the growth of the passion economy,
    The ways in which technology and creativity can work hand-in-hand, and
  • Where technology is taking talents towards next.

Read on for the full article!


The hustle culture is something that many would be familiar with: the notion that persistent work, often at the expense of things like family time, holidays and even personal time, will lead to success. While there is no inherent right or wrong way to approach work, this daily grind has contributed to burnout, which has been officially recognised as a medical condition by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

When the pandemic happened, many people had the time to rethink and reassess their life goals. This brings us to an important question: what if people focused on something besides being productive? The answer comes in the form of the passion economy, a model where individuals have the ability to work when and where they want, with the liberty to positively impact the world around them. This is a phenomenon that is currently being valued at more than US$38bn globally - largely driven by young entrepreneurs looking to pursue their passions outside the corporate world.

In Singapore, a survey by GoDaddy in 2016 showed that 74% of young adults hoped to start their own business within the next decade. Five years later, this research is being proven true, with more and more young people jumping on the bandwagon of being entrepreneurs.

A large part of this ‘passion economy’ is made up of creatives and content creators, who are putting a premium price on their products in areas like fashion, photography, and social media. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) partnered with YouTube to provide training and support for video creators. When it comes to viewing digital videos alone, the APAC market is expected to have 1.93bn viewers by next year. For video creators, this means an even bigger market to leverage. With Singapore leading in the region for collaborative tech use, entering the passion economy has never been easier, having various technology tools to simplify the process.

Ruling creativity and technology as one

Where productivity once sat on a pedestal, the digital age now sees passion seated on the throne.

For creatives, technology that helps them manage, streamline, and protect their content, is of as much importance as their own work.

In the past, creating was often seen as a luxury - and only those who have extra time and money to innovate and fund their ideas until it comes to fruition. But with the proliferation of technology, greater and more streamlined tools are easily available to any person with a stable internet connection and an optimised device of choice. Many creatives are now able to produce works using various open source or free software and programmes that enable them to edit videos, record music, illustrate art - and the list goes on.

However, creating as an individual is just one section of the passion economy. Technology has been democratised in such a manner where connecting with online communities of creatives and customers has never been simpler. The complexities of creative and operational processes alike have been simplified by technological tools that allow creatives to share files, ideas, and feedback on a single platform. We are also seeing a rise in platforms that offer on-site monetisation functions, allowing creators to sell their digital content simultaneously, further streamlining such processes.

Allowing the vision to reign

In the ever-growing landscape of content creating and entrepreneurship, turning passion to profit has been made even easier. Unlike the past where technology tools helped automate generic customer acquisition and traditional sales funnels, collaborative technology now helps creators differentiate their products and services, prioritising customer relationship building instead.

These tools, for example, include Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms that help creators sell their expertise, instead of limiting sales to a specific product or service. The online world has now become a digital marketplace for creatives to create different products, reach new audiences and evolve their craft - all while getting paid for it.

Individuality is valued rather than mangled to fit the box titled ‘mainstream’. Integrated with workflow tools, these platforms that support individuality allow creatives to reduce the complexity of managing the ‘backend’ processes, and allow them more time to perfect their craft and connect with like-minded audiences. For consumers, this also means that they are able to access to a greater diversity of unique products and services.

Technology has shaped the passion economy into one of freedom, enabling everyday creatives to pursue fervent, and more fulfilling livelihoods.

Leaping towards sovereignty

With more individuals prioritising passion over productivity, there is no doubt that many are taking the opportunity to turn what they love into daily bread. When it comes to creating, online collaboration, and monetisation, the digital world as we saw it five years ago has leapfrogged into a new era.

This convergence of passion and technology are helping many entrepreneurs reinvent themselves, and the products that they create - and the right technology will make good even better.

Creatives, content creators, and everyone who sits on the spectrum of passion must invest in technology that prioritises the individuality of their work and contribute to their success. Thriving in the digital future begins with having the right tools.

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