Me Talking about Vietnam and the Social Media Scene on the Xpansion Podcast

Recently, I had the honor of talking to the Xpansion Podcast with Fiona Huang and Justin Taillole about my experiences leading social networking startups in Vietnam – I spent over 7 years there, learning, grinding, and enjoying my time in a rapidly growing 3rd world country.

Listen above and I would love to hear your comments!

Here’s the official Xpansion description for the episode:

Vietnam, the 3rd most populated country (93.95 million) in Southeast Asia. With a population average age of 28.5 years old, young Vietnamese are crazy about social media. Without a doubt, people there are heavy Facebook users. Before Facebook went viral in Asia though, Cyworld had been the social media that gained most tractions in Asia. Originating from Korea, Cyworld was founded in 1997. After acquired by SKTA, a Korean telecom company, Cyworld aggressively expanded to Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan amongst others.

If you are curious about how social media was ran in Vietnam, do not miss out on this episode of Xpansion. We’ve invited Michael Nguyen, the COO of then Cyworld Vietnam. Michael is born and raised in the U.S. by Vietnamese immigrant parents, went back to Vietnam in his mid-twenties and set up Cyworld’s operations. He successfully grew the user base to 4 million. During his stay in Vietnam, he founded Mimo and FriendsPlus. Mimo is a microblogging social network similar to Twitter and later a popular dating app, which Michael successfully exited.

In this episode, Michael shares his story of running social media companies in Vietnam. From his experiences, you will learn:

  1. The cultural differences between the young professionals of Vietnam and the U.S.
  2. How social media in Vietnam used to be monetized differently.
  3. How national-owned telecom companies in Vietnam affects startup survival.
  4. Why managing government relationships is a big deal in Vietnam.
  5. What are some challenges Vietnamese startups are facing.

Vietnamese (Olympics) Gold is Better Than Any Other Gold

“So proud! But the greatest happiness was that we won over China,” Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen, a Vietnamese music show host based in the U.S. but popular in her homeland, wrote on Facebook. 

From VNExpress

Admittedly, shooting is not the sexiest sport. Shooting from 10M (32 feet) sounds even worse. However, once I watched the video coverage, I was pretty excited and proud to see the first Vietnamese Olympic gold medal from Hoang Xuan Vinh.

But the thoughts above pretty much reflect any Vietnamese citizen right now, with bold emphasis mine.

Plus, check out the “Man, I got this!” grin Vinh breaks into as he prepares for his final shot (starting at 1:45 in the YouTube video below):

I do kind of wish he had been wearing a Vietnamese flag-themed jersey though. And done a little dance. Plus, isn’t it a bit weird we don’t see anything come out from the gun? I kind of feel like he’s playing Duck Hunt for Nintendo / NES.

My Memories of Coach Jason Rabedeaux [Vietnam, Saigon Heat]

espn_rabadeux01_1600x1000
Last week, I was surprised to see this long form article on ESPN: Former UTEP coach Jason Rabedeaux’s death remains a mystery.

I knew Coach Jason. He lived in my building in Vietnam, and we would either run into each other in the elevator, at the minimart on the ground floor, or during morning swimming sessions on the 25th floor at 7AM – a chat for a minute or two every few weeks. My wife Ha worked with him during the Saigon Heat’s first season, and both of our impressions of him were the same: he was a really friendly guy.

We heard about his death last fall, but I had no idea about the many internal demons haunting him.

Best wishes to Coach in the heavens.