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Vietnam 2015: 5 startups that got acquired & raised investments from global biggies

2016-01-04 13:54:40

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Startups of Vietnamese entrepreneurs in 2015 not only caught the eye of new venture capital firms, but also proved to be alluring to global peer companies. Several acquisitions of overseas Vietnamese startups, in which the investors are their competitors or counterparts, have made the rivalry saga even more interesting.
 
The participation of these firms have diversified the types of investors, who were primarily VC funds. On top of that, consolidation, according to industry experts, not only helps form bigger players in the local market but also paves the way for startups to expand globally.
 
Following is the compilation of acquisition deals involving startups of Vietnamese founders and foreign companies:-
 
Fossil acquires Vietnamese startup Misfit
The $260 million acquisition of Misfit Inc, co-founded by overseas Vietnamese Sonny Vu, will enable US-based watchmaker Fossil Group to tap into the fitness wearable tracker industry. Under their agreement, Fossil Group will purchase Misfit in cash-and-bank debt deal expected to be finalised by the end of 2015. Vu will serve as president and CTO of connected devices for Fossil Group, and will be a member of the company’s executive leadership team, the company revealed in a release.
 
Although Misfit is not a Vietnamese company, the acquisition has had a certain effect to the Vietnamese entrepreneurship.
 
 
Social app Tappy comes under Weeby fold
Similar to Misfit, Tappy Inc is a US-incorporated social app startup by Truong Thanh Thuy, that was acquired by cloud-based social games company Weeby.co for a seven-digit amount through stock and cash.
 
Following the deal, Thuy became Weeby’s director of business development, Asia. Before the Tappy exit, she had two other ventures, computer software firm GreenGar Studios and lifestyle website Pose. Both were supported by US-based VC firm 500 Startups.
 
Praised to be the Vietnam’s startup queen by the BBC, Thuy is also one of the Forbes Vietnam’s 30 Under 30 figures.
 
Yello Mobile’s businesses invest in CleverAds and Websosanh
Unit companies of South Korean mobile internet firm Yello Mobile made investments in two Vietnamese startups in July, 2015. Yello Digital Marketing became the second foreign investor in marketing and advertising platform CleverAds, after Cyberagent Ventures, which funded the startup with a series A round in exchange for a 20 per cent stake.
 
Meanwhile, Yello Shopping Media told DEALSTREETASIA that it implemented a share swap with Hanoi-based price comparison website Websosanh.vn.
 
 
Vietnam-based price comparison platform Websosanh joins Korea’s YSM through share swap
 
Japan’s transcosmos acquires 30% of Hotdeal
HOTDEAL, the biggest player in the discount e-commerce space in Vietnam, sold 30 per cent of its stakes to Japan’s business process outsourcing firm transcosmos.
 
“I strongly believe that the strategic tie-up with transcosmos would be a breakthrough for Hotdeal.vn in improving our quality of services, and to strengthen business expansion in Vietnam and the South East Asia’s fastest-growing market,” Nguyen Thanh Van An, CEO and founder of HOTDEAL, said in a release.
 
HOTDEAL is operating two verticals, group purchasing platform hotdeal.vn and travel site yesgo.vn.
 
The company said it had acquired 3.1 million unique monthly users with around 2.5 million members.
 
Vietnammm takes over Foodpanda’s Vietnam operations
An interesting development towards the end of 2015 is the acquisition of Foodpanda Vietnam, a unit of Rocket Internet venture, by local food ordering platform Vietnammm. The disclosure of the deal came less than a week after Foodpanda announced to close the Vietnamese ops.
 
While Foodpanda said in a letter that the decision to exit the local market was due to financial challenges, some experts have pointed out Foodpanda had made the wrong moves in terms of learning the market and recruiting people. The startup also said the small scale of Vietnam’s food ordering segment is rather a long-term play. Meanwhile, Vietnammm consistently thinks of this market as a potential space that is sufficient for its growth.
 
Takeaway.com, the largest food ordering website in Netherlands, invested in Vietnammm in 2013. Jochem Lisser, Vietnammm.com managing director, did not unveil how much equity Takeaway.com is holding in the Vietnamese startup.
 
Looking Back
While the above transactions relate to 2015, Vietnam has also seen instances of companies such as On Display, Onebox and Lala Media, founded by overseas Vietnamese, which were sold to American firms. Launched in 1995 by serial entrepreneur Dung Tan Trung, On Display was designed as a software development company. The IPO in 1999 helped Trung exit his first venture by selling it to Vignette Corporation for $1.8 billion.
 
Mobivi, Trung’s current company, is known as one of the first and strongest online payment players in Vietnam that secured an investment from US-based Unitus Impact in 2015.
 
Bill Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant to the US, sold his first startup, Onebox, for $850 million in 1999 to Phone.com, and Lala Media to Apple Inc for $80 million 10 years later.