ECONOMY

Japan’s Genesia Leads $700,000 Vietnam Digital Media Investment

Japan’s Genesia Ventures Inc. led a $700,000 investment in Vietnam startup Vietcetera Media targeting the nation’s growing middle class.

The deal, finalized during the first quarter of 2020, is being made public now after Vietcetera garnered its digital media license from the government, said Hao Tran, co-founder and chief executive officer. Silicon Valley-based Hustle Fund Management also took part in the funding.

The digital media company, based in Ho Chi Minh City and providing Vietnamese and English content ranging from general business articles to lifestyle stories and podcasts, is nearing completion of Series A funding of at least several million dollars in the first half of 2021, Tran said. It has an audience of 1.1 million monthly readers — 60% of them women and a majority under 35 — and recently produced a rap video featuring U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

The funds support expansion of the platform’s data science work, accelerating product development and expanding market share, the CEO said. Vietcetera’s website last year grew its readership by 700%, he added.

Vietnam’s online media market is expected to reach $7 billion in 2025 from $3.3 billion last year, according to a report by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Temasek Holdings Pte and Bain & Co. Its e-economy is forecast to increase to $52 billion in value in 2025 from $14 billion last year, with e-commerce at $29 billion, according to the report.

Vietnam had 68.7 million people, roughly 70% of the population, online in January, according to the Vietnam Digital 2021 report compiled by Kepios Pte, Hootsuite Media Inc. and We Are Social Ltd. YouTube is the most popular social media platform with 92% of internet users aged 16 to 64 using it, the report said. Facebook Inc. and local social network Zalo, owned by VNG Corp., attracted 91.7% and 76.5% of users, respectively.

The government cracks down on online political dissent and deploys a 10,000-member military cyber unit to police internet discussion.

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