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  • HarryD 4:54 pm on May 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DFJ VinaCapital, vietnamese social networking, Yeah1   

    DFJ VinaCapital heats up Vietnamese teen social networking with Yeah1 investment 

    Vietnamese media reported on May 28, 2008 that DFJ Vinacapital has invested an undisclosed amount into SuperStar, the company behind the teen forum Yeah1. This has a little bit heating up the teen segment competition in Vietnam, but it seems there will be a lot of difficulties ahead for the players. It would be interesting now to look at the evolution of the teen segment in Vietnam and what trends are taking shape in this heavily competitive category.


    Evolution of a hot segment


    Vietnam’s first successful teen website would be Loitraitim (words of love hearts), which dated from 2002 from YoMost, once the coolest brand in Vietnam’s recent marketing history. With a very appealing tagline “A Very Yomost Style”, YoMost, owned by DutchLady/Foremost Vietnam, stormed the Vietnamese market with a wonderful through the line marketing campaign that quickly made YoMost the ultimate Vietnamese teen icon. Loitraitim, a teen website then, was quickly absorbed by YoMost branding team, then redesigned, and relaunched in a Valentine promotion campaign. Teen-oriented design with youthful color palette and entertainment news update, low competition and abundant marketing budget injection from YoMost branding team has quickly catapult Loitraitim to become the leading teen website at that time.


    However, in the following years, Loitraitim was quickly dethroned by many amateur music sharing websites. Vietnamese teenagers flocked to these websites to listen and download online music, making online music the most trafficked segment in teen category. From 2004 to late 2006, amateur music websites made their names into most of the top 100 websites in Vietnam, with some representatives like Nghenhac.info, HoangClub.info, Nguoidaukho.vn and Vui.vn etc.


    Then came in web 2.0 big players in early 2007. On one hand, music vertical search engines, including Zing, Baamboo, 7sac, Socbay, Uizaa with better services and user experience has gained most of the traffic from amateur online music. On the other hand, social networking services like Cyworld, Yobanbe, Timnhanh Cafe, MyLife has attracted a good number of teen users from web 1.0 players.


    In early 2008, more bad news for Vietnamese pirate online music websites came when Ministry of Information and Communications issued a document requiring all pirate music websites to stop uncopyrighted online music services and strictly follow the law on intellectual property. So far only a few online companies which are heavily financed could afford the price tag by Recording Industry Association of Vietnam (RIAV), rumored to be in billions of Vietnamese dong per year, including Vui.vn (owned by 24h Group), Yeuamnhac (an invested company of IDG Ventures Vietnam), Pops Media (still in preparation for a heavily-clamored new online music service) etc..


    Teen segment is a hard sell in Vietnamese online advertising space. Though teen oriented websites in Vietnam recorded a good user base, with monthly pageviews from a few hundred thousands to some millions, monetization from these website are still a far future. Major advertisers that have ventured into teen website in their media mix remains less than a dozen. Almost all teen websites are operating in the red, mostly financed by VCs or big Internet players. This is forecast to continue in the near future.


    Future trends


    Social Networking is very popular among the teenagers worldwide and most of them spend on an average one hour daily to either post or read postings. In the United States, MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Xanga.com, Tagged.com, Friendster.com, Twitter.com etc. are the most popular social networking services among the teenagers. Video and photo-sharing websites like YouTube.com and Flickr.com are fast catching on with the teens, which are creating profiles and sharing their videos and photo collections. iTunes is another favorite of the teens. In South Korea, Cyworld social networking services was phenomenally successful with more than 20 million members. Similarly, in China the IM-based social networking services QQ (Tencent) was hugely successful with 2007 revenues of more than $523 million with net income of more than $214 million, which translates to a whopping profit margin of 42% and a $11 billion market capitalization.

    Inspired by this worldwide social networking craze, Vietnamese teen segment with a 20-plus million population is a lucrative market for Internet services providers. I personally think the segment, though facing difficulties adopting international business models, building platform, bootstrapping, scaling and finding a relevant monetizing/advertising platform, will finally have their days in the next few years. Vietnamese teen websites are falling into the following categories:

          Teen Content Portal: These include Hoahoctro, the online version of Hoa Hoc Tro, Vietnam’s No.1 teen weekly magazine, with a circulation of more than 100,000 issues per week. Another newcomer is Kenh14.vn within the ChannelVN.net portal project by VC Corporation, the famous 2-million baby IDG Ventures Vietnam company. Since its debut early this year, Kenh14 has grown quickly with online fashion photo features and sensational sexual health articles. Other old players like Loitraitim are becoming obsolete, due to lack of innovation.

           Teen Online Services: These include online music and movies, with representatives as mentioned above.

           Social Networking: Players include Cyworld Vietnam, Yobanbe (within Zing portal from VinaGame), Timnhanh Cafe (another DFJ Vinacapital investee). Vietnamese facebook clones, including Tamtay, Guongmat, FaceViet and the incoming Zoomban and I-pro.vn from VC Corp. Disclosure: my company, Vinalive, after the biggest upgrade this year for women social networking PhunuNet in this coming June will also conduct a small facelift for the youth social networking MyLife.vn then. The competition therefore will only accelerate, especially when Friendster has just entered Vietnamese market this month (I will detail in an upcoming article).

    It would be exciting to see what kind of business model DFJ Vinacapital investee Yeah1 will come up with. From my perception, Yeah1 looks more like a content provider (they are busy making a TV Show on Saigon Cable Television, a channel with very few audience and almost no advertising revenues). My prediction: with DFJV’s investment, Yeah1 will upgrade their platform to become a social networking services.

    However, their current platform, which is much like an amater forum, will take them a lot of time and energy while other carefully prepared rivals are already running around in the street. For DFJV, this will buy them more on audience and media inventory rather than a strong, disruptive platform and a well-positioned powerful brand. Building these will not be an easy task for Yeah1.

    • Xuan 10:02 am on May 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      DFJ is always late after IDGVV, how they can exit from this investment deal?

    • Henry 2:55 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I dont know 😀

    • JJ 9:49 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      These funds really have no where else to put their money into except for teeny bopper message boards.

      “Gimme some of those HARRRRYYY DDDEEES!”

    • Roy 10:10 pm on June 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah1’s owner also launch another forum named Uhm1.com quietly; yet its content and design are far below Yeah1’s feature. I am out of curiosity about the way they monetize the forums since I also have some forums like http://www.OCtextbook.com and http://www.iStartUp.us (on beta)

    • ICO 8:39 am on July 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah1 is preparing for an Entertainment Unit (cinema theater, karaoke, shops … for teens). This actually is the core value of Yeah1 community (groups of teenagers, meeting offline a lot).

      So I don’t see Yeah1 as a mighty Internet startup, they could make things happen much better offline.

    • HarryD 9:31 am on July 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you ICO for sharing an interesting info. If Yeah1 is going into that way, they seem to be quite smart indeed. I can imagine how valuable Yeah1 is if they positioned themselves as an “offline” youth entertainment & lifestyle brand.

      However, it would be very important for them to define the core/flagship services among the mentioned businesses, for example would it be Cable TV, or cineplex, and expand from there. Yeah1 needs to dominate a category before expanding their franchise, otherwise instead of having a lot of successful businesses they will have a lot of problems.

      Who knows some day we will hear the breaking news “Viacom established Vietnam footprint through Yeah1 acquisition”, like the way Ebay teamed up with Chodientu? Personally I’m not very much buying in this.

    • tojosan 9:29 am on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      They made such investment sometime in April-May when the capital market is hopeless…

      these guys have so much money but dont know how to spend

    • Stevie Platte 5:27 am on March 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      How shortly does the danger trial expire?

    • dred 8:19 am on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      thanks information

  • HarryD 7:43 am on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Guongmat, , , , vietnamese social networking, Zoomban   

    Vietnamese Facebook clones’ face-off Part 2: VC’s Zoomban prepares inroad 

    As I wrote earlier that VC Corp is busy preparing their own Facebook clone, now its Zoomban.com is planning to go public, heating up the already crowded marketplace. Now it’s time to check the performance of the key players: FaceViet, Tamtay, Guongmat, and some predictions on the competition once Zoomban is officially launched.

    FaceViet has just launched its new platform, upgraded its server capacity and adding more entertainment features. Its new interface is cooler, but less elegant than the former and, strangely enough, is somewhat like LinkedIn! I actually prefer the old interface, because of its simplicity and crystal convenience (or maybe I’m too old to like cool things). I guess FaceViet has changed both its source code and interface too. The most remarkable functionality of the new FaceViet is its “Entertainment” feature, which provides a quite big library of online music and movies. This has proved a good tactical move, as FaceViet’s Alexa ranking has rocketed in the past few days because of this entertainment function. However, as the Vietnamese government, i.e. Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has recently requested all pirate online music websites in Vietnam to strictly follow the Law on Intellectual Ownership, FaceViet’s move will be very risky in the coming time. FaceViet also provides its own vertical search engine that helps users find music and movie files.

    My forecast: With all these moves, FaceViet has regained good traffic improvements, but in the longer term, its business model becomes more confused. It seems FaceViet will continue its evolution with a focus on music and movie, and become a portal like VinaGame’s Zing.

    Guongmat has made almost no progress since the last time I wrote about them in November 2007, except for a new interface, and again has a strikingly similarity to FaceViet, especially the silver-colored design template. It also allows users to customize background pictures and “themes”. Actually I quite like Guongmat’s simplicity and some of its very convenient features like photo uploading process, but Guongmat has became a little bit too boring and provides no differentiation among the Vietnamese Facebook clones.

    My forecast: Guongmat need to look into its inner self to find where are its core competencies and what kind of value proposition and business model it is crafting, or other players like FaceViet, Tamtay and the upcoming Zoomban will put a full stop to Guongmat.

    Tamtay.vn has made some good progress in terms of traffic and customer acquisition. It now boasts more than 100,000 registered users, but most of these users have very little activity on Tamtay. From my perception, most users coming to Tamtay are teenagers, and they came there mostly because of Tamtay’s good selection of sexy photos and updated online movies! This is a smart short term tactic, but in the long term “bribing” customers with sex will only diminish the long term value proposition and brand equity.

    My forecast: I’m quite impressed with Tamtay’s performance, but again it will need to redefine a long term business model and a strong differentiation strategy, or it will trail behind Clip.vn in terms of online video and the upcoming Zoomban in terms of social networking functionalities.

    Among the Facebook clones, VC Corp’s Zoomban would be the most exciting to watch. With VC Corp’s tons of cash, technology capabilities and smart marketing initiatives, I guess Zoomban will soon become the biggest player and cause a lot of difficulties for both FaceViet and Tamtay. A good, fun, attractive user interface combined with delicate social networking functionalities will make Zoomban outstanding among its competitors. VC Corp’s widely reached Internet properties, including Dantri, TTVNOL, Baamboo, Sannhac, ChannelVN etc… will soon help Zoomban with a lot of free media value that FaceViet and Tamtay could never dream of.

    My forecast: It’s too early to make any forecast, but I guess Zoomban will score an early home run when it is launched in the next few months. However after that it will need to define a clear business model while the original Facebook is in its own difficulty finding an appealing social ad platform after Beacon has come to a full failure.

    The competition ahead between Vietnamese Facebook clones is now somewhat not very intriguing, as we’ve already sketch out the possible market leader. The more interesting thing is how the winner will find a way to make money on the back of their social graph and justify a differentiation with the original, authentic Facebook. For my part, I would stick to my viewpoint that Facebook is a uniquely US phenomenon and any attempt to replicate Facebook in another culture and country are too much risky, with China’s Xiaonei and the likes as good reference.

    • Robert Michel 7:50 am on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

      Robert Michel

    • Jason 8:12 am on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Zoomban is run on asp.net, a bit hard to follow FB as platform for developers. FB clones are not as hot as last year.

    • Jason Rakowski 8:16 am on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Good Layout and design. I like your blog. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. .

      Jason Rakowski

    • Thanh Le 7:14 pm on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Harry for the quick updated blog.

      The market is crowded and I am excited to see more players jumping on board.

    • Do Kiet 10:59 am on March 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Zoomban seems to be the best Facebook clone, it has the platform for developers.

    • HarryD 11:09 am on March 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      @Kiet: can you detail further you perception that Zoomban has the platform for developers, as Jason has pointed out that Zoomban is developed on .Net framework while we knew PHP should be the right one for developers?

      @Thanh Le: appreciate your fairplay spirit, but you would have a lot of difficulties ahead then, because most of web 2.0 categories can only afford one market leader and there is almost no chance for second placed player (if there is second player at all!). It’s a pity, but I can’t wait to see what happen next and do hope there is a Cinderella story in web 2.0 Vietnam. Finally good luck to your team.

    • Do Kiet 11:42 am on March 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Harry,

      I do not know much of how the platform will be, I just wanted to say I give them credits for having it.

      As for GuongMat.com, it is so boring and it doesn’t change anything since last time.

      Faceviet.com is boring just like Guongmat.com, they both have the same script online, most of the users are fake.

      tamtay.vn is really cool because of the video contents and the speed.

      Zoomban will probably be the future of social networking site for students.

    • Do Kiet 1:19 pm on March 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Guongmat and Faceviet bought the php script from this site http://www.socialengine.net for $300. The demo is here http://demo.socialengine.net/home.php

    • Gian Thương 3:25 am on April 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I just passby Zoomban and see it is good design, not sure how cool is it after launch. It is perfect for teen!

      Hope to ready more interesting content from your like.

    • Van Son 8:58 am on April 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      i think Tamtay.vn is the best, they have more than 135000 members while Faceviet has 1000, GuongMat.com has 3700. I do not agree with what you said about the “little activity” of tamtay. Their system are intergrated and there are so many offline activities as well. FV, on the other hand, most of their members are fake, if not, they are just there to watch those online clips, which tamtay has way a lot more and much faster to load.

    • KCA 2:24 pm on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hm, hm thanks for your blog, i just discover, , pretty good work you are doing with Jasonlog.

      With regards to the subject of your post, i am pretty sure that when BuddyPress will be ready, somes others player will come in the arena, maybe me ^^, and i think that it will make a big difference, because of the open source plateforme, and especially because Automatic is behind.

      In the long term, I don t see any point to clone Facebook if you cannot share the same API, so your menbers can still link with Facebook menber by example. Same for Yahoo 360.
      Maybe the OpenID is sufficient, but as far i see the OpenID not really takes off.

      When we are talking about the menbers, do we take in account the active menbers, who connect to their account at least 1 time/ week, or do we take every ones, en the ones who just registered to check the service?

      Anyway… Keep up the good work

    • Nhon.PT 8:47 am on October 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great analyst! Do you thing a clone of Facebook is realistic in Viet Nam?

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