The fall and rise of social computing in Vietnam

It seems inevitabe.

FaceViet, a Vietnamese Facebook clone, was reported to be filing for bankrupcy.

VON (Vietnam Online Network) is reportedly being sold.

Rumor has it that Cyvee, the first social network for professionals, is laying off 75% of its workforce.

And even Vinagame.

It is unfair, though, to pin the blame for the misfortune of these start-ups 2.0 on the recession.

Take a closer look.

Do you ever believe that a blatant clone like FaceViet could ever achieve a fraction of the success that Facebook has?

And with Tìm Nhanh, a search portal that is powered by Google, along with a slew of other products on their homepage, VON in effect doesn’t know what they are doing. They lost their way. Yume.vn was destined to fail, as I observed during the launch event. It is largely a lack of clear visions that led VON to where it stands today.

About Cyvee. Didn’t I write the “enquiry to the fall of Cyvee“  last year? And it’s also worth noting that Cyvee CEO used to approach Vietnamworks for a deal worth of US$1mil and it was fortunate for Vietnamworks that they didn’t accept the offer at that time.

Early 2009 appears to be a good time for these start-ups to announce major changes. Because it blurs other things, like poor execution, management, and vision.

Who’s next?

Certainly it’s not joy to talk about who’s gonna lose their job in the next announcements. Many of you here have friends, or even yourselves, who are within the vicious circle.

Duc Ban said it would be Vietnamworks. Why? Vietnamworks is currently the leading online job service for professionals in Vietnam. Regarding the effect of the recession, fewer and fewer employers are willing to take in anymore workers while they are the main source of income for Vietnamworks. On the other hand, more people losing their jobs means they will become frequent visitors to the site. Less income and more expenses to maintain the website.

But there’s another side of the story. In the last years Vietnamworks has made poor hires which led to the departure of a large number of its talented workforce. It’s odd for an HR company has to face HR issues.

As Simon put it:”they are dead”.

If Vietnamworks restructures itself, it’s likely that Caravat will follow suit. A young start-up that hopefully  makes money out of its high-level executive members via a B2B model sees its capital drying up. Perhaps it explained why they were in such a hurry to launch the site premature.

As we’ve talked a lot about Caravat here at Fresco20 and Duc Ban’s blog, it’s less about recession and more about execution.

We’ve seen companies survive the dot com bubbles and the financial crisis in 1999, other start-ups are no exception. I guess it’s a combination of internal and external factors. It’s like Asian governments are putting the blame on the credit squeeze in the US and Europe that dealt a hefty blow to their economies but in fact it is their export-led policies that make matters worse. Someone should be held accountable.

Silver lining

There’s is a new social media celebrity on the rise. You should check Chip’s entry out to see what I mean.

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12 Responses to The fall and rise of social computing in Vietnam

  1. Very interesting. We at IBM developerWorks are beginning to invest in a presence for Vietnam, but were not aware of the micro social networking sites that are regional specific.

    I would be interested to know which (if any) of these sites are focused on professionals, particularly IT professionals. If there are any, I'd love to hear your take on how viable they are.

  2. anhhung says:

    For professionals, there are Cyvee and Caravat.com, which are mentioned in this article. You can do a search for these two sites for my previous articles.

    Most IT professionals as they are called are on forums though :-)

  3. Duc Ban says:

    About the assumption, I didn't say Vietnamworks will be the next. I said “via some sources”. Rumors has it, not me. :)

  4. anhhung says:

    No worries though. All the stuffs here are based on rumors. :-)

  5. ePi.Longo says:

    Good article. How bout other sites (I mean non-2.0 websites. VNW imo isn't a 2.0 site) ?

  6. Chip says:

    Hey why you think VNW isn't a 2.0 site?
    It's a nice coverage, some noticeable information. But are you sure about Vietnamworks' rumor? It may lead to some misunderstanding and VNW may not like that.

  7. ePi.Longo says:

    Long time to access VNW (you know I still have a good job :p) but I remember that VNW's users can't connect with each other, can't vote, can't comment bout the job posted by any company… So, I think VNW isn't a 2.0 site :) . Plz tell me if I'm wrong or outdated.

  8. anhhung says:

    Sometimes it's more convenient to wrap truths with rumors. If they think what was written was right, they can come here and get it corrected. :)

  9. anhhung says:

    VNW is still a user-generated content site at heart but it's indeed not very social.

  10. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Vietnam startups encountering difficulties

  11. Simon says:

    hi Hung, better clarify my 'quote' here. “They're dead” is meant in terms of VNW holding on to the top-spot as the dominant player in the online recruitment space in VN. New aggregators and scrapers will keep appearing, they'll hold more jobs and put pressure on the paid model at the lower-end. That's about volume.

    But VNW seem increasingly to take the position as a “quality” recruitment portal, which filters the spam and the dross, and provides 'service' and results to recruiters. That's a service worth paying for, so if their cost base is good, they've got existing clients and a good brand to weather the storm.

  12. anhhung says:

    Hey Simon, thanks for the clarification, hope to see you at the next HCMC Tweetup :-)

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