IDG Ventures Vietnam was the first venture capital firm to invest in Vietnam over nine years ago, and has since been the leader in investing in Vietnam’s small and large technology companies. That means it’s also had the privilege of being in local the startup scene for some time.
IDG Ventures Vietnam started investing in Vietnam in 2004, back when the Vietnamese internet population was less than 10 million users. Today, the population is well over 30 million. Like most venture capital firms, its success rate is under 20 percent for startups invested, but companies like VNG, Vietnam’s biggest consumer tech company, have paid back the firm in droves.
So here, for your reading glory, are the 42 companies that IDGVV has invested in over its last nine years as an investment firm. Note that IDGVV may have been the first large VC firm to set up shop in Vietnam, but it’s not the only significant one – CyberAgent Ventures and DFJ VinaCapital make regular contributions to the Vietnamese tech and startup scene.
A large majority of these companies started between 2005 and 2007 just as the first wave of Vietnamese startups began to emerged. For IDGVV, the most noteworthy of these companies include: VNG, VC Corp, Vat Gia, Socbay, Peacesoft, Vinabook, Webtretho (Project Lana), and Vietnamworks. These have all either grown into massive companies, been acquired, or spun off into significantly larger projects.
Many in the industry have speculated that IDGVV has slowed down its investments in technology and has refocused investments in other areas. But associates in IDGVV also say that their offices are focusing more on growing the startups it have already invested in.
Please note that in the list below, not all are tech investments but some have been drawn into the tech fold. For example, FBNC Vietnam is slowly transitioning away from traditional video media to more digital. Also, companies like Classbook have received IDGVV investments but have never stated publicly the investment round nor does IDGVV publish the site its public list.
All data for this post was garnered here, at IDGVV’s portfolio list. Click there for more details.
- Apollo Vietnam – An English languge training company that specializes in using English learning software licensed from the USA.
- Cyvee – Once a potential competitor to About.me or LinkedIn, Cyvee is a social networking site for professionals. Cyvee also manages Vietladders, an online career community for managers. So far Cyvee hasn’t seen much traction nor noise as of late.
- Dia Diem – One of Vietnam’s first online location based sites, the company was founded by Nhom Mua’s founder, Tom Tran, who is now running Kay.vn. Nhom Mua up until late last year was one of Vietnam’s rising daily deal stars. It floundered in a sea of embezzlement and management issues, which left the company under a new set of management who have failed to take it to the next level. Dia Diem, on the other hand, is still being managed by Tran and made some of its money off of ads and selling location data to Google Maps.
- Dia Oc – Dia Oc is among the many online platforms for real estate in Vietnam. It is one of the leaders in the category, but with fierce competition from Batdongsan and Muabannhadat, it’s unclear if the site will become a clear market leader anytime soon.
- DMS Group – If there’s two areas in the online space in Vietnam, it’s startups and digital agencies. DMS is one company which operates in the online advertising space. The cool thing about DMS is that it’s got customers across the region as opposed to just Vietnam.
- DreamViet – DreamViet manages a property called Aha.vn. It’s an e-commerce comparison site, similar to Oi Zoi Oi. Considering that e-commerce sites are already struggling to gain traction and advertise, it’s a bit early for e-commerce comparison traction.
- ePi – ePi is an online media company whose main product is BaoMoi, which was quietly acquired by VNG last year. BaoMoi is a news aggregator that grabs news from across Vietnam’s online news media. This, of course, upset local news organizations, which sued BaoMoi in March.
- FBNC – TV is still one of the biggest media channels in Vietnam, with over 80 percent of advertising going to television. This puts FBNC, which is itself a TV channel, in a very interesting space. It’s got one foot in the television world, while it’s also working hard on getting stronger in the online video and events space. With its close connections in the startup world, FBNC has also started featuring more startups on its online shows.
- GES – GES is mainly in the hardware business, specializing in semiconductors, solar, flat panel, and medical markets.
- Goldsun Focus Media – You see all those televisions with advertisements in elevators, taxis, and public areas? That’s Goldsun Focus Media.
- Hocmai.vn – Hocmai, meaning “learn forever”, is tan education portal which has over 400,000 subscribers. It specializes in providing useful educational content for exams, studying and even e-books.
- Isphere Soft – Isphere Soft is in outsourcing but is most notable for running Cyworld, a Vietnamese version of the popular Korean social networking platform. So far, Cyworld is still far from gaining traction up against the likes of Zing Me (from VNG) and Facebook.
- Magnet – Magnet is an e-commerce platform that operates out of the States.
- Minh Dat Viet – This company manages a web property called Thodia, which focuses on location reviews for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It’s up against Foody in the restaurant category, which is funded by CyberAgent Ventures.
- Mobivox – This is another company based in the USA, but it does VoIP services and applications.
- Moore Corp – Moore basically does online content and advertising in Vietnam. It manages three main properties including: VietAd, Anhso.net, and Nghenhac.info. The two latter ones are in photo storage and music streaming. Nghenhac.info, being in music, is up against Nhac Cua Tui, which is a CyberAgent funded company and Zing MP3, which is from VNG.
- MSS – MSS focuses on four main areas: mobile content, mobile technology, digital marketing, and SMS. That also means its up against big winners like Pops Worldwide and Appota. So far MSS hasn’t made any big moves, indicating slow growth.
- Muaban – Classifieds are a huge market and Muaban is one of the five main competitors in this category. 5giay is one of the key market leaders in classifieds but has been content to sit and not scale beyond a certain point. This may also be because the market has a threshold.
- MX – Vietnam has a crowded but slow moving payment market with over 18 players and MX is in the category of prepaid, PIN-based payment solutions. This is an area where Rev Vietnam totally failed in, so it’s unclear if MX has gained traction with a similar business model.
- Nhom Mua – Not technically listed on IDGVV’s website, but certainly, at one point, within their portfolio, Nhom Mua was Vietnam’s rising daily deals star with an international team and explosive month-to-month growth. It erupted in a heat of controversy over embezzlement and tensions between management and investors, which culminated in the Vietnamese police shutting down the office in Ho Chi Minh city. The company reorganized its management and is still in operation today, but it’s since fallen off of its seat as the market leader.
- OTC – This is a platform for trading securities and financial information.
- Peacesoft – Peacesoft is the parent company of several major websites including eBay.vn, AdNet, and NganLuong. The most significant in this grouping is of course NganLuong, which is a payments platform. It got a partial acquisition from MOL.
- Punch – Punch was in games development and publishing, which has released some award winning games like EGO. It has since been acquired by DeNA.
- Pyramid – Pyramid is a relatively successful outsourcing company whose main development center is in Ho Chi Minh city.
- Rubicon – Indeed, there’s more online advertising related companies in IDGVV’s list. Rubicon is yet another online advertising company that specializes in building meta networks for ads. All of these online advertising companies also underline why executives in IDGVV are so interested in supporting initiatives like IAB in Vietnam, which support standardizing and growing online advertising in the local market.
- San Pham Viet – This company runs VietnamB2B, which was a large B2B commerce platform. It’s gone now though.
- Socbay – Socbay is one of the dark horses in the startup scene in Vietnam. It started out as a search engine, but actually tricked its competitors by putting its investments in mobile. The company has remained successful but under the radar.
- Tamtay – Earlier this year Vietnam’ prime minister audaciously declared that $200 million would go to building a social network for the youth. That’s probably a lore more than what IDGVV invested in Tamtay, which is also a social network for the youth. At last count, it only had just over 1 million users. That’s nothing compared to Zing Me, VNG’s social network, which has well over 15 million users.
- Tinhvan – This company runs Xalo.vn, which used to compete in the search engine category, had to pivot when it couldn’t win up against the likes of Google. Currently, Xalo is a news portal. Interestingly enough for Tinhvan and Socbay, both competitors in the search engine market, CocCoc and Wada are now the biggest competitors in this space. They’re both backed by large Russian investors.
- TV Plus – Like FBNC and YanTV (not listed here), TV Plus is in the video content industry mainly.
- Vat Gia – By some, Vat Gia is considered to be the Alibaba of Vietnam because of its size and its somewhat similar business model. Vat Gia does B2B and B2C commerce and is by far one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in Vietnam. Some in the industry have speculated that this company is worth more than $80 million, making it one of the most valuable e-commerce companies in the Southeast Asian region.
- VC Corp – VC Corp is also one of IDGVV’s most successful investments. It manages a huge portfolio of internet properties that span online content, e-commerce, social media, ad networks and even food delivery. It hosts Kenh14, which is by far Vietnam’s biggest internet news and forum site.
- Vega Tech – Vega basically builds online media platforms for content. This includes video content platforms like Clip.vn, which hosts video content online.
- Vietnamworks – Vietnamworks has long been Vietnam’s market leader in online recruitment. One of the most significant acquisitions of this year was when en-Japan bought Vietnamworks. This happened just a month after CareerBuilder acquired KiemViec, which was invested in by DFJ VinaCapital.
- Vietstock – Like OTC, Vietstock operates in the financial sector. But instead of just being a platform, it also provides research and analysis.
- Vinabook – One of Vietnam’s leading book e-commerce sites is Vinabook. This also means it is competing heavily with CyberAgent’s invested company, Tiki, which just received a $2 to $3 million investment from Sumitomo. Tiki has since moved into other product categories while Vinabook remains strong in books. Note that the CEO of Vinabook now works as an associate at IDG Ventures Vietnam, managing investments in the e-commerce sector.
- VNG (formerly Vinagame) – By far one of Vietnam’s most successful tech companies and rumored to be worth over $300 million, VNG started out as a gaming company which licensed games from Chinese game developer Kingsoft. It has since evolved into a number of categories including e-commerce, social media, mobile OTT, media, and its own set of games. VNG had a whopping revenue of over $90 million last year.
- Vinapay – Vinapay is one of the many payment platforms competing for the pot in Vietnam.
- VSMC – Like Tamtay, VSMC used to focus on the youth population in Vietnam, even building a platform for youth who enjoy Japanese manga and anime. The website is down though, and it’s in the deadpool.
- Webtretho (aka Project Lana) – Started out as a forum for females online, Webtretho is now the number one place for women to go to chat about issues that are dear to them. It has over one million users to date. Since then, the project has spun off into what is now called Project Lana to those in the industry, this project includes five main web properties including: Beyeu, Lam Dieu, Foreva, Mua Gi O Dau and Thanh Ly. These are all sites in the e-commerce category. In other words, Project Lana leverages its forum to source products that users want and while also target the same market.
- Yeuamnhac (aka YAN) – FBNC, TV Plus and YAN are IDGVV’s most significant investments into video content. In the case of YAN, it is very focused on being a media platform for music on all channels including internet, TV, mobile, radio and events. YAN also manages YAN TV, which is increasingly resembling MTV in the late 90’s when it started to pivot away from music and into reality tv.
- Yeuthethao – Last but not least on the list is Yeuthethao. It’s currently the leader in providing news and information on sports for Vietnam’s sports fans online. And since Vietnamese people love soccer, of course Yeuthethao manages BongDa, the biggest soccer news portal.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)
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