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Vietnam’s Dropbox is back from the dead with new investment, partners with telco Viettel

kleii-viettel

In October last year, Tech In Asia reported that Kleii, Vietnam’s equivalent of Dropbox, was in a coma. The service accumulated more than one million users, but its business model was bleeding money.

Nguyen Tuan Son, the CEO of Kleii, told us in October that he was re-evaluating the service and working on new ways to release it. Now that day has come. Today, Kleii’s blog announces three major steps on its path back to being a consumer and business cloud platform. They are:

  1. Kleii has received another round of undisclosed funding from TheFarm VC. This is a Kyrgyzstan investment firm that is interested in expanding its investment portfolio into Asia.
  2. Kleii is offering a full year of free cloud service for its previously paying customers.
  3. Kleii is partnering up with Viettel, Vietnam’s top telco, to offer a new mobile cloud service.

The third announcement will be the biggest news to observers in Vietnam’s startup ecosystem. Although the details of the partnership are not clear yet, Nguyen Tuan Son has confirmed that this will be a co-branding effort and it will be a revenue sharing model. This is profoundly significant because it gives Kleii access to Viettel’s 60-plus million users – and it also reveals Viettel’s potential new direction towards value-added services.

A tough startup inception

Kleii had a rocky start. In March last year it climbed to one million users so fast that it just couldn’t handle the weight of data. Then it had to shut down. Despite getting a round of seed funding that could keep the servers up and the team going, eventually it had to close up shop. Many thought that Kleii was forever in the deadpool.

For some in the startup ecosystem in Vietnam, this may open up a hopeful new avenue by partnering with telcos in the country. In the past, startups have been wary of telcos because the massive corporations are prone to replicate models they see in the market. If Kleii can pull this off successfully, we might also be seeing new frontiers for cloud services in Vietnam. From the grapevine, we hear that some of Vietnam’s bigger players are also keen on getting into the cloud.

Editing by Steven Millward

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