Updates from November, 2007 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • HarryD 5:51 pm on November 26, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Vietnamese LinkedIn clones,   

    What is happening to Cyvee, what will? 

    As my prior prediction on Cyvee’s booming traffic rank on Alexa that “this won’t last long”, you might find something interesting here: http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/cyvee.com

    After peaking in early November following an IDG Ventures Vietnam funding clamour, CyVee is experiencing its first challenge. Though subscribed members have climbed from 12,000 to more than 13,000, its ranking on Alexa is going downward. While Alexa should not be considered as the standard of web ranking, it is enough to reveal something about CyVee’s traffic, other factors equal.

    I’ve written on Quang’s blog that CyWorld and CyVee are the two best social networking platforms in Vietnam so far. I still stand by this argument. However, even a brilliant business model with proven success in other countries (Cyworld and LinkedIn) when copied in Vietnam will find some daunting tasks repeating a similar success.

    I have to admit that I use Cyvee as pure curiosity and as a “must” for a person so interested in this industry as me. In fact, I found there is almost no use for my appearance on CyVee. Most of my relationship are very “1.0” without the need to pronounce on CyVee. Checking with some boards of directors that I happen to have a sit in, almost no senior executive over there have a Cyvee account. Some have, but almost never use CyVee’s services. Looking at Cyvee’s members, most of the enthusiasts are students and middle managers.

    I guess because time is a luxury to all senior executives, you must bring something really valuable to them. Otherwise you cannot persuade them to indulge in your services by consuming their luxurious time.

    Jason just posted an interesting observation on the situation of Cyworld Vietnam in his blog. Now the two best platforms, Cyworld and Cyvee, seem to see many challenges ahead, it would be interesting to wait what will happen next to Vietnam’s web 2.0 spree.

    The story is now more interesting if you notice that News Corporation is planning an acquisition of LinkedIn. With News Corp.’s not very excellent track record in evolving and replicating their web 2.0 business models around (remember MySpace’s lost against Facebook, and where is MySpace China now?), expect Mr. Murdoch to turn LinkedIn into something similar to WSJ rather than an emerging technology platform. LinkedIn’s owners might be busy now working on their Open Social process with Google before selling to News Corp for a better price tag, so don’t expect them to look for Cyvee in Vietnam for an acquisition.

    Another problem with Cyvee is that News Corp has developed a reputation adapting their business models in other countries on their own rather than acquiring someone else. Remember Ms. Deng’s MySpace China, and Murdoch’s StarTV expansion around Asia? Therefore, while LinkedIn can fetch its owners some $4-6 billion from Mr. Murdoch (this is my own valuation of LinkedIn based on their current revenues/profits and an estimated “social networking multiple”), a price for CyVee would be at a far horizon.

    May be time for another exit strategy? Maybe, but CyVee needs to address its downward picture first.

    • Hồng Quang 7:51 am on November 27, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hmm, Alexa sucks sometimes; you can see the same trends for yobanbe, cyword too.

      Who should aquire CyVee? No, not News Corp. A passing thought, how about FPT?

    • HarryD 5:19 pm on November 30, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Cyvee is climbing a bit on Alexa in the past few days. Maybe interesting to wait and see.

      Meanwhile, FaceViet is experiencing a terrible tumble on Alexa, I can’t understand what is happening to FV.

      Given that FPT always boasts the most confident middle managers on earth, they might well believe starting their own SNS would be a cheaper way to do web 2.0 than acquiring someone like Cyvee. I’m waiting for their relaunch of Your Gate…

    • Nhon.PT 7:10 am on October 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Harry,
      I think a business model like Cyvee cannot operate good in Viet Nam because the following reason:
      + Vietnamese culture is not as open as Westerns is the first barrier. Many highly effective people in Viet Nam were born before 1980 that their mind of relationships is so serious. Do you think they like to show their profile in public?
      + In real world, almost Vietnamese users doesn’t have much experience of social networking to build their network like Westerners. Do you think a person who lacks of experience to do social network in their school, in their work can do well it on internet? I don’t think so.
      As I guess, social networking sites in Viet Nam will be more realistic 3 or 5 years late.
      Thanks for sharing!

  • HarryD 4:09 pm on November 18, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , GuongMat.com, ,   

    Vietnamese Facebook clones’ face off: FaceViet vs. GuongMat vs. Tamtay vs. VC Corp vs. you name it… 

    More Vietnamese Internet players are joining the Facebook cloning bandwagon, and there are 15 billion reasons they may end up like their Chinese counterpart Xiaonei.

    Coming earliest to the field should be GuongMat.com, an exact Facebook clone from design to functions to everything. It is rumored GuongMat is put up by an oversea Vietnamese. GuongMat’s advantage is its clean and intuitive interface and easy to use Facebook functions like photo and message. However, that’s all what GuongMat have on its face. With these assets, GuongMat might have 240 million improvements ahead before becoming a Vietnamese Facebook.

    Tamtay.vn is the second guy entering the field. Actually when entering Tamtay, you should expect a buffet of web 2.0 mess, from video clips to photos to everything you can imagine. The only thing why I categorize Tamtay as a Facebook clone is its recent redesign to look exactly like Facebook. Tamtay is in a serious identity crisis, and until their management can pronounce concisely in one sentence what business model it is hatching, another 240 million improvements should be worthless.

    Interesting enough is new comer FaceViet, which will launch amid fanfare from this November 20. Khoa Pham assembled a very interesting feature on FaceViet through his interview with FaceViet’s CEO, so I would not elaborate more on this. From my point of view, FaceViet has a cool name and a pretty design, taking its dark red as signature color (although this makes the site too feminine). I would say this is a very smart identity move, as it is exactly opposite to Facebook. Key functions of FaceViet are news feed/mini feed, photos, events, super wall etc. FaceViet’s clever product strategy should make it one of the first to earn Vietnamese Facebook clone marquee.

    It is rumored VC Corp, one of Vietnam’s leading web 2.0 players with popular Baamboo and Sannhac services, is also busy preparing a Facebook clone. This might create a lot of difficulties for FaceViet, as VC Corp is well known for their technology capabilities and smart marketing concepts.

    The face off between Vietnamese Facebook clones therefore will just intensify in the coming time, but it is easy to see a future between the two horses: FaceViet and VC Corp. FaceViet have assembled a group of passionate and well-educated management team. It has done some early good work in brand identity and technology platforms. Meanwhile, VC Corp’s people have a team of very experienced managers but not just simply theoretical knowledge. They well know the pulse of the market, and is a deep pocket player as well. One more thing that FaceViet can not match VC Corp is VC Corp’s unrivalled reach through its key web properties. My prediction is that VC Corp will soon surpass FaceViet in terms of customer acquisition and become the No. 1 Facebook clone in Vietnam.

    A subjective prediction it is, but any winner in this red sea battle will find it in another challenge: how to find the vitality for its Facebook clone. I would stand by my viewpoint that Facebook is uniquely a US phenomenon. Any attempts to replicate Facebook in another culture and country are risky enough. All Vietnamese Facebook clone should look to neighbouring China to find heavily VC-backed Xiaonei, the most successful Facebook clone ever in Asia, as a good example. Vietnam, like China, has its own cultural context and any attempts to replicate international business model with “top-down” approach rather than from “bottom-up” demand analysis should have to pay a considerable price tag.

    Maybe in one years’ time, all my predictions will be proved utterly wrong. In that case, forgive me for a viewpoint that has taken Vietnamese culture, context and consumer insights too far in business strategizing.

    • Hoang Tran 9:49 pm on November 18, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting analysis. Thanks Harry for a thoughtful post. I would agree that the competition now is between FaceViet and VCcorp “future to be announced product”. (The other websites make me feel like a pretty coat but no spirit inside)

      VCcorp is surely one of the power horses in Vietnam with IDG backed-up, and they have the manpowers that they need: management team, engineers, PR, web alliances. etc.. I haven’t seen their product yet so I will not say anything more than this.

      On the other hand, FaceViet adopts the facebook model in the full extends with well-designed website, easy to navigate user interface and as you said “a group of passionate and well-educated management team.” In this industry, we all know that the people is what drive one good idea into a successful product.

      Will a power horse win or will it be another hi-tech Cinderella story? I will have my eyes wide opened and seriously can’t wait to see when the battle settled.

    • Alex Minh 5:14 am on November 19, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      I totally agree with you two about FaceViet and VC Corp. If* VC Corp. is going to make a clone of facebook ( I use if because we are not sure whether they are going to make one or mayb with all the fund they got from IDG , they may acquire faceviet) then we will have 2 horses race.

      It is very interesting to see who will come on top. We all know that VC Corp. got fund from IDG but who is behind faceViet.com? We do not know yet.

      Like you two, I will keep an close eyes on both.


    • Hồng Quang 5:55 am on November 20, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      We’ll never know what will work on the net until it works. One thing for sure, the game place is getting crowded — the first one who could reach 1M subscriptions (just refer to current Y!360 user number in VN roughly) would be likely to win the match, I guess.

    • thanhdn 9:43 am on November 21, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      From technical point, it’s not so difficult to create something like faceviet. You might forget the fact that ttvnol.com had been popular in the schools since 1999…, ThangVV has alot of experience of school community development. So VC’s has a big advantage to dominate the market.

    • Hoang Tran 11:38 pm on November 21, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @thanhdn: Can’t agree more! VCcorp has more advantages in developing one community.

      @Hong Quang: 1 million would be a too big of a number, you think? I would say anybody has 500K would be good to go.

      According to recent news (rumor), VCcorp is not going to be a the biggest guy in the game anymore. Another giant from oversea (either China or US branch, still confirming) is developing another clone and will push it in the market by end of 2007. It is so funny that I hear people talking about this almost everyday, even within my company.

    • tanng 2:20 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi all. You all seem to forget that on the Internet the best product will eventually win. Marketing or financial power will not be a key factor to success. Also, Internet is about whole new thing, so any experience will bring no advantage to you. Sometime experience even make harm to you because it keeping your from accepting new idea, inventing new thing or new way of thinking.

      So I think that everyone except FB is on equal footing in this game (in fact FaceBook has huge product advantage to all other FaceBook clones)

    • HarryD 3:19 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @Hoang Tran: I also hear from my friends that a number of other players are lining up to join game, in the wake that Facebook clones in China and Germany are collecting some $100 million each.

      @Tanng: The best product stems from the combination of excellent marketing insights and relevant technology platforms. All founders of greatest tech companies are at the core marketing genius (thinking of Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Mark Zuckerberg & Co. itself). Any disruptive innovation is at core a marketing phenonmena through satisfying unmet demands based on mix-matching current technologies (not the new ones). Financial resources will allow scaling up, which is not less important. So while I agree with you that product is most important, marketing and financing capabilities are also a must in any success. Even Facebook had to get some good financing deals to go this far. Other factors equal, VC and VinaGame with more bucks and more people have more probability to succeed than others.

    • Xman 5:14 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @Tanng: I did not see any core tech with VCC products, many see VCC just had Marketing or/and financial power (Dantri, ttvnol and Vincom)

    • nam 5:26 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      interesting post
      i believe GuongMat.com has been online for only a few months. Seems like tamtay.vn is the first FB clone?

    • tanng 5:47 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi HarryD. Financial resource and marketing power could make more harm than benefit, because it may kill innovation spirit. Do you think that Yahoo, Microsoft or Google have less money and power and FaceBook? But they all still fail.

      When resources are scared you have to:

      • Optimize your technology so your application run fast with less resource. Make it scalable by technology not by money.
      • Doing smart marketing not silly PR and advertising like TimNhanh.com and Zing are doing now.
      • Streamlining your service, keeping only core features thus not allowing your product derail from the core value.

      When you have too many resouces you may

      • Get everything bloated: service, server, community, …
      • Overhyped and mislead by alexa and google analytics success, not measuring your success by customer satisfaction and enthuasism
      • Raising too much expectation from customer, thus risking over-promise
      • Distract your service from the core.
      • Not trying to get excellency from your team, your technology, your product.

      My 2 cents is marketing and money may have some impact, but their importance is reduced to nearly zero. That is the beautifulness of the Internet.

      In Vietnam biggest disadvantage of small company may be legal problem. Vinagame has smart and dirty practice that use legal system to attack small player, which may kill their competition in one night.

    • Hoang Tran 7:46 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @nam: I am not sure if you know what you are talking about? Tamtay.vn is a great place for R rated video clips. Their marketing strategy is “Sex sells no matter what”. And I am not blaming them because it works with the Vietnamese internet users. But do I want to have my high school bros and sisters go in there to learn something? Hek no!

      @X man: VCC is big in financial because IDGVV is backing them up. Doesn’t mean that IDGVV is their best buddy to go with them all the way to the end. VCC needs to focus on what they do best which is Baamboo right now and Sannhac later. I personally know a group of guys in Europe is working on a product that would compete with sannhac.com. Sannhac.com is a good product but VCC is pushing them too slow because they think there would be no competition. Wrong thought!

      @tanng: I do agree with tanng that VCC and Vinagame can be a b*(ch and kill a smaller start-up in a few days by all the tricks that they used before. It is an open market and people do what they need to survive, (ethical or not). The legal problem is the BIGGEST problem anybody have to face when they do business in Vietnam.

      I love this quote:”My 2 cents is marketing and money may have some impact, but their importance is reduced to nearly zero. That is the beautifulness of the Internet.” Money might not be able to reduce to zero but marketing effort can be.

    • Duc Loc 11:57 pm on November 26, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Have anybody noticed that most of the users in faceviet are fake. I have tried to send messages to many people and nobody ever replied. Another weird thing is that most users don’t even have a photo or are not associated with any particular group.

      I understand the need to get the first few thousand users and many social network inflate their numbers by registering fake users, but this seems to be overwhelming because most of the users on faceviet are fake. Can anybody confirm that?

      Also with so many bugs as of current version and the design is almost an exact copy of the original facebook, I wonder if faceviet just bought a cheap facebook clone script on the net and use that as the base to their site.

      I searched around for a little while and found a few sites that offer php scripts that can create a facebook clone.

      Here is the list:
      1/ http://www.influxive.com/isociety/index.php
      You can test ride it with
      username is tomchen@ima.com
      password is admin

      2/ http://forums.phpfox.com/showthread.php?t=11747
      This is supposed to be a mod for phpFox, social network software that originally created to look like myspace clone.

      There are plenty others facebook clone scripts, but most of those are really badly coded. I hope that Faceviet is not based on one of those because they will have problem when they need to scale up and handle bigger traffics.

    • Tran Minh 2:29 am on November 30, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      It doesn’t really matter what now, since the “big guy” is on its way to crush FaceViet and VCcorp

      Make a good comparison:
      VCCorp has financial power, coders and more than that back up from its others web propertities = technology + financial + political power. However, what’s VC core business? Baamboo, and they don’t really want to lose that market to somebody else, do they?

      FaceViet has a good team and a working product, so ? Not enough!

      The “big guy” has been pushing rumors all over the place that it will bring one of the best web 2.0 application that nobody has ever seen in Vietnam.

      I think the coding is not something important because what if you have Google or Yahoo script (http://ddth.com/showthread.php?t=143323) , faceviet ( http://freecodevn.com/for@um/showthread.php?t=34312 ) script, would you ever be able to scale up your search engine to be as big as Google or Yahoo ? No, no and no.

      My point of view is once this market getting to crowded by tens of competitors, all we can do is pray and enjoy the show. Because it is going to be fun, and it is going to be dirty.

    • MotTramDo.com 4:39 am on January 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting debate. I see much of our concern so far is whether these copycats will succeed. But how about Facebook reactions. With so many clones it must have done something. An effort to localized facebook had been secretly launched (http://nus.facebook.com/translations/). Will these clones useful for finding oversea friends who are on Facebook? Apparently not.

      However, much of Vietnamese population don’t know about Facebook so the cake is still big for them.

      I would like to let Vietnam locals to know more about all these copycat phenomenon, will love to see your blog and continuing debate on mottramdo.com

    • nam 7:19 pm on February 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      FV is a joke! they bought php script for a few bucks and claim fv to be the next big thing? come on get real? i just dont understand how people with MBAs are that naive

      fv is now using a different script which is a lot better but still a light weight php script and there is no way they can scale up

    • David Nguyen 8:52 am on February 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Lol, following the line of comments, I can see Nam is working for tamtay.vn 🙂

      This kind of attitude and closed-minded personality is what keep technology in Vietnam so behind with the rest of the world.

      I personally don’t see the need to move anywhere else since my 360 is still working and Yahoo doesn’t seem to close it, but tamtay definitely lose my account 🙂

    • Do Kiet 10:50 am on March 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Both guongmat and faceviet bought cheap php script online to copy facebook. Those 2 are exactly the same

    • ANKIM.ORG 3:58 pm on July 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Faceviet and guongmat both are located in US and VC Corp’s sites are in vietnam.

    • HarryD 8:59 am on July 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      @AnKim: thanks for sharing the info, but please keep those “clean” from porn or political links otherwise I’ll have problem with censorship circle.

    • PB 1:57 am on November 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Just thought I’d throw another new site into the game, http://www.thegioiban.com. Hosted in the States, has a clean crisp FB style, but not many members. Might only be a matter of time.

  • HarryD 5:03 pm on November 14, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FPT and web 2.0, FPT Online, Gate.vn, Your Gate social networking by FPT   

    Giant FPT experiments new social networking services 

    As I wrote earlier, more players are crowding into the social networking services game in Vietnam. Newest comer: FPT Online, a poster child of the FPT conglomerate.

    Joining Yobanbe, Timnhanh Cafe, Cyworld and hoping to take a bite at Yahoo when its Yahoo 360 services is having problems remake it Yahoo Mash, FPT Online introduced a 360 clone with the name Your Gate SNS. You can have a quick look at a member I found here: http://your.gate.vn/LeNa

    Your Gate claims it is easy for its member to transfer all virtual assets on their blogs from Yahoo 360, Timnhanh or Yobanbe into Your Gate. Theme design is much like Timnhanh, but worse. Looking at the positioning, I think FPT is planning a Yahoo 360 alternative and competes with Timnhanh and Yobanbe. Is it worth doing this, while Timnhanh and Yobanbe are struggling themselves?

    Jason did a brilliant work recently mentioned FPT’s new 2.0 strategies and its plan to enter the competition. However, like my comments on Jason’s blog (http://jasonlog.supersized.org/archives/96-Can-FPT-2.0-Boost-Its-Share-Price.html#comments), this is an example to prove that FPT is too big and too rich to make forays into web 2.0 space. Maybe FPT should use its stocks bubble to buy Timnhanh rather than developing a copycat in a ghost house where everyone are yet to know what to do next. This would solve both exit strategy for Timnhanh’s investors and FPT Capital’s invesment math

    My guess is that Your Gate will burn some good money from its deep pocket mother and finding itself in a struggle like Yobanbe and Timnhanh Cafe. In the meantime, it would be exciting to see how another FPT web 2.0 child Xiklo debut.

    • Jason Vu 4:55 am on November 15, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Actually it is a micro M&A deal of FPT Online, they bought out http://yeunhatky.com/ team to build or/and integrate into your .gate. If FPT Online and FPT Capital do not bring in new web visionaries it will loose the game.

    • Hồng Quang 3:46 am on November 16, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks HarryD for pointing this out. At the moment, I cannot direct to http://your.gate.com, server down?

      FPT has just been voted for the biggest company in private sector — too big to do something small-and-nice as web 2.0, I suppose.

      I’ll have a review on FPT 2.0 strategy; just want more facts & figures.

    • HarryD 4:18 pm on November 18, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Pitiful that FPT has withdrawn its beta version offline, may be a big improvement is looming?

  • HarryD 5:41 pm on November 13, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Google's $1 trillion market capitalization, , web 2.0 strategy   

    My crazy comments on the future of Google 

    I wrote a comment on Google’s future recently on New York Times. Repost here for Vietnamese entrepreneurs as a food for thought. Some day I will come back with a fun prediction on who will be the Google of Vietnam.


    I would predict GOOG surpass MSFT as the biggest company in terms of market capitalization within the next 2 years and well on its way to become the most valuable company in the world. This is why:

    1. Business Model. Google now is more than a search ads company. With the global ad revenues of $400b and US revenues of $300b, there is no way for Google to scale their ad revenues growth (both search and non-search, including hot growth engines display, video, mobile), notwithstanding profits and market capitalization. Still, Google is morphing itself into a true web services company by venturing into office suite software (online), web analytics ultilities, mobile ads etc. GE is the king of Industrial Age. Then came in P&G who became the king of Consumer Goods Age. Then Microsoft, the king of most recent Information Age. Google’s vision to “organize the world’s information” and what it is doing proved its potential is far and big enough to make it the king of future’s Information-based Economy.

    2. Sustainablity. Why I agree with some of you that Google’s business model, i.e. search ads, is replicable, Google is quite a different species. Its brand now has unmatched equity that a second search ad disrupter would find extremely difficult to match. When Google has become the Coke of search ads, expect another century for the Pepsi of search ads to surpass its No.1 position. Moreover, Google is fueling its sustainablity by recruiting the smartest people, and building the best web services brands.

    3. Core competency expanded well beyond search ads. Google’s core competency now is Innovation. And it is fueling this core competency improvement with an unrivalled free cash flow that no technology company in this world could dream of. This would make its competitors sweating just follow them and duplicate these things.

    4. Learning the best of GE, P&G and Microsoft to apply to web space. Google has learnt the lesson of recruiting and developing the best people from GE, applying it to recruit the smartest tech people. It borrows the art of brand management from P&G to build, acquire and manage the web’s leading brands, including Google, YouTube, Orkut, Blogger, Gmail, GTalk, Picasa, to name just a few. It is venturing into Microsoft’s backyard, i.e. office suite and other softwares.

    For these reasons, don’t think that Google is just a fad. It has become a system of core competencies, and this is what will make them dominant in the future Economy 2.0 and super valuable in that future. The only thing that should stop this engine and crash its stock lies in itself if all four things I mentioned above is not relentlessly continued to be upgraded and let other competitors step in.

    Harry Do

    • Anh 4:58 am on November 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Nice analysis, HarryD, totally agree with you.

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