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  • HarryD 9:20 am on May 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , web 2.0 Vietnam   

    HarryD’s 22 Immutable Laws of C2V (Cloning to Vietnam) 

    In the past few years, there are more than 100 web 2.0 startups or projects appear in Vietnam cloning many successful international business models. However, results were mixed. The “Cloning to Vietnam” bandwagon, which I will term “C2V”, has a little bit slowed down recently, but is now hot again with many Twitter wannabes in the latest wave.

    From my personal experience, I’ve “invented” some certain laws that can apply to predict a clone’s success probability. Just to share with you my experience in a quick and simple list that I call “22 Immutable Laws of Cloning to Vietnam” (my thanks to Al & Laura Ries for my own cloning of their “22 Immutable Laws” franchise!). Detailed discussions on each of these Laws will come in my following posts when I could find some time to write them down.

    I’m quite confident with these laws, we can fix most of struggling web 2.0 startups in Vietnam (of course given enough time, money and resources, which are always scarcities).

    In my opinion, it’s not bad or good being a cloner, but it’s how you clone that matters. Another thing is that there are always exceptions.

    1. The Law of Anti-Cloning. Don’t clone at all, create your own.

    2. The Law of Local Insights. If clone, start with local insights.

    3. The Law of Differentiation. Differentiate yourself from original model or they’ll soon pass you in Vietnam.

    4. The Law of Value. Your clone must offer its own measurable value proposition.

    5. The Law of Opposition. It’s best if you can position your clone in opposition to the original model.

    6. The Law of Focus. Find a laser focus for your clone and do not sacrifice this at any price.

    7. The Law of Coolness. You can’t acquire early adopters if you are not cool.

    8. The Law of Fads and Trends. Clone based on trends, not fads.

    9. The Law of Laziness. Vietnamese consumers are lazy, so pamper them with functionalities for lazy people!

    10. The Law of Engagement. Your product must engage users with one only first core functionality.

    11. The Law of Virality. Add virality to your clone through different tactics.

    12. The Law of First Movers. First movers today have an absolute advantage in becoming category leaders tomorrow.

    13. The Law of Followers. Followers should play the role of “opposition party” to the market leaders.

    14. The Law of Serial Trial. It’s ok to try thousand times to sharpen your one and only focus.

    15. The Law of Controllable Dictatorship. Dictators made great products, but remember to keep that under control.

    16. The Law of Prediction. The best way to predict your clone’s clear direction is to invent it.

    17. The Law of Scale. Traffic scale is not the only answer, but your focus decides your scaling strategies.

    18. The Law of Monetization. Find your own “monetization currency” for your clone to create a new industry and money will come in.
    19. The Law of CEO Branding. Your CEO must sacrifice her privacy to stand out to represent your startup to the public and other stakeholders.

    20. The Law of Founders of Two. Two founders is the perfect formula.

    21. The Law of Product-as-Advertising. Your product is your advertising.

    22. The Law of Seeking VCs. How low-profile you are, VCs will find a way to you right at the moment you became the category leader of a lucrative sector.

    I also work out a number of other laws that well apply to cloning web 2.0 models in to Vietnam, however a list of 22 is more than enough, so here are some foods for your thoughts:

    • Dung Tran 4:45 pm on May 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Should have: The law of integration: Your clone must integrate with original model

    • pcspacevn 9:57 pm on June 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply


      Could I take your post and translate it to Vietnamese? I want to populate it in my blog. Please give me the permission. Thank you very much.

    • HarryD 2:40 pm on June 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Dear pcspacevn,

      Feel free to translate and repost the piece, just provide the link to the original article so that anyone who would like to see the original English version can refer to, as some words might be difficult to be translated into Vietnamese.

      All best to your blog,


    • Marcia Larson 12:18 am on July 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Really insightful stuff here – wow, wish I’d read your blog before my presentation. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep reading when I get back to New York.

      Have a good one,

    • Vinh 2:34 pm on July 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I really do like your article her Harry. There are two faces of cloning as I have seen: Technical and Finance. Technical is considered done because if you can do it, then I can do ịt However, the finance part does not apply to every region at all. This is why most the the Viet Clone sites failed.

    • Hiep Nhu 9:43 am on October 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      There are lots of laws, huh?

    • taicrane 3:33 am on January 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This post is funny…I don’t really like cloning though

    • Mimo 2:16 am on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Harry,
      How are your projects going? It’s been a long time since your last update….

      How do you think a service like our Mimo.vn fits in the scope of things? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and suggestions for us!

    • Tun Nguyen 2:03 pm on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      excellence 🙂

  • HarryD 5:51 pm on November 26, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Vietnamese LinkedIn clones, web 2.0 Vietnam   

    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 4:51 pm on October 31, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LinkedIn clone, web 2.0 Vietnam   

    IDG linked CyVee in 

    Vietnamese media reported on Oct. 30 that IDG has invested in local business social networking startup CyVee with an undisclosed amount. Now IDG has heated up the social networking play in Vietnam again, it might be tempting to see the scorecard of their portfolio.

    CyWorld Vietnam is the first SNS that received IDG’s money. It hopes to duplicate the success story of itself in South Korea, where it is the biggest SN player with more than 20 million members. CyWorld Vietnam claimed they have recruited 100,000 subscribers since its inception early this year, and is looking at the 500,000 landmark by the end of this year. How successful is CyWorld Vietnam? So far the opinions are mixed. Many Vietnamese teens loves its Korean-style design and appearance. However, some more mature and practical teens complain CyWorld is too sweetie teeny, too “closed”, and costly as CyWorld sells their personas and other items (I guess Vietnamese teenagers might not be as wealthy as their Korean counterparts). Nearly one year after its debut, CyWorld Vietnam are still halfway checking if their fee-based business model and Korean anime style would drive Vietnamese teenagers crazy like Bi Rain. Otherwise, CyWorld Vietnam might find itself in a similar position like its US sister.

    Yeuamnhac is the second player in IDG’s portfolio. It has been in a mysterious quiet atmosphere since receiving IDG’s money, except for a redesign of the website and the adding of video sharing functions. Yeuamnhac is in a heavy competition with very strong newcomers such as Zing MP3, 7Music/7Sac, Baamboo Music, Nhacvui, and a jungle of amateur music websites. While Baamboo or 7Sac’s business model has been proved in other part of the world, Yeuamnhac’s business model is uniquely Vietnam and that’s what makes them find difficult to go ahead. What Yeuamnhac should urgently do is to differentiate itself amid the mushrooming of online music services in Vietnam, or it would be ending as the weakest link among IDG’s connects.

    Yobanbe is another IDG’s involvement. It is a service launched by VinaGame, which is touted to be “the most successful” invested company of IDGVV. Well equipped, but Yobanbe is losing steam in its battle with Yahoo 360. Now its parent, VinaGame, is launching a full throttle attack against Yahoo with its Zing franchise, Yobanbe might expect to receive less attention from its mum. One options is to let Yobanbe go wherever it takes before Zing can outchat Yahoo, or the Zing franchise would find itself behind its respective competitors in every war.

    Clip.vn has been quite successful in drawing in viewers and boosting traffic. This YouTube clone is now trying to find the way to monetize its property. It has introduced both display ads and in video banner ads, but the results are still limited. Clip is burning more bucks than other social networking for its servers, so it would be more difficult for them to achieve break even. Though gaining some momentum, Clip will find it difficult to stay independent, just as original YouTube had. Therefore, an acquisition by a power player should be best for Clip’s investors.

    Newcomer CyVee should be the most interesting to watch. With more than 11,000 members since its debut early this year, CyVee is doing quite well in a country where business users’ social networking habits is a novelty to most. The biggest challenge for CyVee is how to scale up and recruit a critical mass user base, otherwise it would be not easy to find decent display ads revenue. Even much heavier trafficked business online news website VnEconomy is finding out that online display ads revenues are so small compared with its stable of magazines and newspapers, then how CyVee scale its growth is a thorny subject. The Chinese clone of LinkedIn is thinking of a “cooperation” with the original LinkedIn, so can we expect a similar move for CyVee? Of course not, at least until LinkedIn goes IPO, which might be a far future. Maybe CyVee should wait until Vietnamworks IPO in 2009, and sell to them or IPO with them.

    Scale. Monetize. Scale. These should be three biggest challenges to all Vietnamese social networking services. In the next few months, expect more Vietnamese SNS players to join the game just to see how they solve these three challenges.

    • Do Quang Tu 10:49 am on November 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      For Cyworld Vietnam, it is right to say that how Cyworld Vietnam does is still a big question. Cyworld Vietnam is still in phases of developing its user base, so there are many interesting things more to come in the near future.

      All I can tell now is that Cyworld Vietnam has never replicated any Korea phenomena or US-version. Taking advantage of Korean waves is not a good way, and it is obviously more adventurous than we ever think.

      Cyworld focuses on how person expresses his restrained feelings than his knowledge. This makes Cyworld totally different from any social network products. When you step into Cyworld, you’ll find it as a part of your life not your communication mean .Personally, I call it social network service with humanity technology.

      Thank you for your reviewing.

    • Hồng Quang 5:23 am on November 12, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Just my 2 cents:

      + CyWorld.vn: If it had 500.000 users as expected this year, it could reach break-even point soon. Passionate users would be willing to pay, others (like me 😉 ) are not active frequently. No problem with monetization, just how to attract more users.

      + Yeuamnhac: Not sure why IDG invested in this; just to fill its investment categories?

      + YoBanBe: I’ve got a review at web2vietnam.wordpress.com. It now has opportunity to gain users from Y!360 if Yahoo cannot immigrate data to new platform nicely.

      + Clip.vn: It did great job in cloning YouTube for VN users. Yet, like YouTube, monetization is big question.

      + CyVee: I like its ideas and visit it daily now. But I’m a geek; the true market is normal users.

      I suppose IDG does not worry much about monetization; if just VinaGame IPO gets success, they will get back all investment or even better. I know stock market in VN is crazy now (like in China), no rational thinking here.

    • HarryD 10:59 am on November 12, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @Quang: Great insights. I’m quite sure VinaGame will be very successful when it IPO, even Zing franchise is a failure. Pitiful that I could not write on an evaluation of VinaGame, as lacking key data from them. Hope one day this can be done. CyWorld’s 500,000 landmark should be not an easy task.

      @Tu: CyWorld’s value propositioning is unique, and strong enough in Vietnam. I’m quite sure about its future success, but adapting the business model for Vietnam between fee-based and ad-based or something in between should be your biggest question and it would guide your next expansion plan.

    • Khoa Pham 12:45 pm on November 12, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      It’s true that Cyvee, the new vnSpoke, has got very good user engagement. The booming metrics speak for itself:


      Great job on this!

      However, if you pay attention to the registration statistics, the number of users still remain pretty flat over the last few weeks (around 12,000). Cyvee users are pretty educated and affluent, so big money will follow once they solve the scaling issue.

    • Hồng Quang 9:04 am on November 13, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      I cannot find where CyWorld VN announced its subscribers. Need some stats for small research. Could you give me a hint, HarryD?

    • HarryD 2:05 pm on November 13, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @Quang: The number of 100,000 members is Cyworld Vietnam’s claim and was published on some Vietnamese media as a result of their PR work. You can find a reflection at this link: http://itvns.net/diendan/showthread.php?p=22144

      I’ve got no idea how they’re doing since they last announced this 100,000 firgure in Sep.

    • Hồng Quang 2:55 am on November 14, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @HarryD: Thanks a lot. I found the original source in PC World Vietnam.

    • Do Quang Tu 6:29 pm on November 17, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Harry:

      As a person who is responsible for PR activities of Cyworld Vietnam, I can assure that we have achieved more than 100,000 members since early 2007. The growing speed of our member scale is still fast and stable. We are looking forward to opening new services and expanding the scale in the future.

      Yours sincerely,

    • HarryD 4:05 pm on November 18, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Tu for the confirmation and make it clear for everyone this is real, and all kind wishes to your team’s efforts.

    • Danhbaweb20.com 8:10 am on May 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Bài viết phân tích của bạn rất hay. Cám ơn nhiều !

  • HarryD 5:01 pm on October 29, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: VinaGame, web 2.0 Vietnam, Yahoo Vietnam, , Zing Chat   

    Zing Chat prepares to sword Yahoo Chat 

    VinaGame is final testing its Zing Chat IM for an official launch in early November. In fact they bought the popular QQ IM from Tencent and localized it for the Vietnamese market.

    VinaGame is more known in Vietnam for its online game. Some PR work in Vietnamese media stated the company’s revenues at $40 million (amazing!). Their games are mostly licensed from Chinese supplier. Now the company is hoping it can become Vietnam’s Tencent and its coming IPO next year would make it laugh all the way to the bank, at least similar to the story of Mr. Ma’s Tencent in Hong Kong. Tencent is worth $8b, so why Vietnam with 17 million Internet users, a tenth of China’s Interent population, should not be worth north of $800m?

    VinaGame is dreaming big before with the launch of social networking Yobanbe and music search engine Zing MP3. They’ve just launched their Zing portal. Now came in the IM sword. It seems VinaGing is very serious.

    Zing Chat has a bundle of strong points. It offer many cool and cute avatars, very 3D polished indeed. This might be welcomed by Vietnamese teenagers, who are using Chat services like there’s no tomorrow. It can webcam chat with 5 persons at the same time. Sending file is a click at ease. It is integrated with Zing MP3 so that you can listen to popular Vietnamese songs. VinaGame plans to develop more entertainment apps for their QQ pet, so expect more to come.

    However, it seems Zing Duck will find it difficult to sword at elephant Yahoo IM’s back. Vietnamese users has so attached to Yahoo that leaving Yahoo IM for Zing QQ seems unbelievable to most. Zing Chat is heading to become the multifunctional Swiss knife with a strong confidence than ever. However I very suspect the effectiveness of this approach.

    You can listen to Vietnamese music song with Zing Chat. Ha! Teen should be more comfortable using another online music services like Baamboo, 7Sac, Uizaa, NhacVui, and even Zing MP3 itself. Or for a very smart teen, why should not download the songs she likes from these services and play it from her desktop with Microsoft’s zurassic Music Player? How about sending multi GB file? You can use yousendit, or megaupload, or FPT’s xiklo. Cool and polished avatars cannot help here. The only thing that I like is webcam chat with 5 persons. Might be VinaGame has just found out that Vietnamese teenagers love video conferencing, as many of them love to become future business executives some time? Even that way, can you chat with 5 people and looking at 5 screens at the same time and find it’s a worthy Internet experience?

    I like Zing’s ideas and their ambition, but feel anxious if they are going to battle Yahoo this way. You cannot overcome the market leader by becoming better.

    Or maybe you can, and you make the history.

    Of course I have enough time to wait and see.

    • Khaivq 6:32 am on October 30, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Really like your analysis. Hope to have a chance to meet you in Hanoi.

    • Truyen 8:42 am on March 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting. Of course beating Yahoo! is possible with something like Google version 2.

      Something must not be right here. QQ to Chinese is just the Internet, as people say. Same to YIM to many Vietnamese. I know some people don’t even use email or read VnExpress, but they jump directly to YIM and chat.

      QQ may have been following ICQ, but that time the Internet was almost nothing to people, and there were virtually no other competitors in China. For Vietnamese right now, kicking people out of YIM is almost impossible because of the network effect: every friend is there, so why must I leave for a new chat service with no one talking to me?

      Can it be any new experience for Vietnamese chatters?

    • Lai Tung Lam 4:35 pm on March 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “Tencent is worth $8b, so why Vietnam with 17 million Internet users, a tenth of China’s Interent population, should not be worth north of $800m?”
      I think before you do any analysis of this kind you’d better check your mathematic skills.
      How come to you 17 millions = a tenth of 1 billion (1000 millions) ?
      I give you a WOAAAH for that.
      Youngsters in VN are becoming more ‘internationalised’. That means a considerable portion of them are ready to get rid of Yahoo and start to use MSN, Windows Live Messenger .. Zing Chat also allows conversation between MSN and Yahoo, so, why not give it a try ?
      I’m sure Vietnamese teenagers are always open to the new, the improved ones. Yahoo are getting a bit off the way (when i was in VN the Yahoo servers ‘dies’ quite regularly, and Yahoo 9 can’t even connect to them).
      About the music, I agree with you that to some people it seems unnecessary. But, according to you, while some Vietnamese can’t even surf the web to get news, how can they get access to those music sites ? Isn’t it better to listen to music directly in the chat windows ?
      Last of all, I want to tell you that your sarcastic skills really deserve sarcasm. Next time do a better research and I might drop off to see how far you will have progressed on the skills. =B

    • HarryD 4:21 am on March 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I would like to warn Lam that my blog is for a well grown up readership that deserve you kid’s respect, so be tamed when you write down something and if not please keep shy away from my blog. This blog might be more suitable for kinda old people with lower IQ and mathematic skills than you, and you well deserve to be recognized somewhere better.

      BTW, if you are a little bit more tamed, you would certainly see the blinking difference between the Chinese population or the “Chinese Internet population” addressed in the article.

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