Vietnam web start-up challenging Google

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coccoc
Coc Coc’s office in Hanoi

An internet start-up in Vietnam backed by Russian investors is seeking to topple Google as a search engine in the country, arguing that is delivers better, quicker and more relevant search results in Vietnamese, as the major drawback for the ubiquitous US search giant is that it often does not get the nuances of the local language.

The search engine, called “Coc Coc” (spelled “knock-knock” in English) has a seed capital of $10 million and reportedly has already hired 300 staff in its headquarters in Hanoi. Internet and search engine experts are trained by Russian expats who mainly come from Russia’s largest internet company, mail.ru.

Google has no office or staff in Vietnam as of now. In a statement, the California-based company said it welcomed the competition Coc Coc represented and it hoped to bring more products and services to Vietnam in the future. It added that for the moment it had nothing to announce regarding the opening of an office in Vietnam. However, Google recently launched AdSense, its popular advertising network, in Vietnam.

According to Coc Coc’s founders, its investors have $100 million over the next five years to try and get a chunk of the 97 percent of Vietnamese web surfers who currently use Google to switch. They declined to name the investors.

Although Google dominates search across the globe, there are a handful of markets in eastern Europe and Asia where it is behind local companies, such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea. In most cases, the local companies were entrenched before Google entered. Capturing existing market share from the US giant is a far more difficult task.

Coc Coc might also become the darling of the Vietnamese government, not only because its servers are located in Vietnam while Google’s are not, but also because it has said it “decided not to serve the segment of political queries at all.”

According to an Associated Press report published on May 17, Coc Coc is apparently redirecting queries for some politically sensitive terms to Google as a way of avoiding government anger or legal liability for sending surfers to sites containing criticism of the ruling party.

For example, search results for “Viet Tan,” a well-known overseas pro-democracy group outlawed in Vietnam, are being automatically redirected to a Google page displaying the returns for “Viet Tan.” Searches for one of the country’s most well-known dissidents, Le Quoc Quan, are dealt with in the same way.

Vietnam with its 90-million, mainly young  population has one of the fastest-growing Internet user rates in the world, a fact that encourages businesses to invest, but also a government that fears access to critical content and therefore routinely blocks and filters sensitive sites, sentences bloggers to long jail terms and is alleged to be involved in hacking attacks on websites critical of the ruling party.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Coc Coc’s office in Hanoi

An internet start-up in Vietnam backed by Russian investors is seeking to topple Google as a search engine in the country, arguing that is delivers better, quicker and more relevant search results in Vietnamese, as the major drawback for the ubiquitous US search giant is that it often does not get the nuances of the local language.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

coccoc
Coc Coc’s office in Hanoi

An internet start-up in Vietnam backed by Russian investors is seeking to topple Google as a search engine in the country, arguing that is delivers better, quicker and more relevant search results in Vietnamese, as the major drawback for the ubiquitous US search giant is that it often does not get the nuances of the local language.

The search engine, called “Coc Coc” (spelled “knock-knock” in English) has a seed capital of $10 million and reportedly has already hired 300 staff in its headquarters in Hanoi. Internet and search engine experts are trained by Russian expats who mainly come from Russia’s largest internet company, mail.ru.

Google has no office or staff in Vietnam as of now. In a statement, the California-based company said it welcomed the competition Coc Coc represented and it hoped to bring more products and services to Vietnam in the future. It added that for the moment it had nothing to announce regarding the opening of an office in Vietnam. However, Google recently launched AdSense, its popular advertising network, in Vietnam.

According to Coc Coc’s founders, its investors have $100 million over the next five years to try and get a chunk of the 97 percent of Vietnamese web surfers who currently use Google to switch. They declined to name the investors.

Although Google dominates search across the globe, there are a handful of markets in eastern Europe and Asia where it is behind local companies, such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea. In most cases, the local companies were entrenched before Google entered. Capturing existing market share from the US giant is a far more difficult task.

Coc Coc might also become the darling of the Vietnamese government, not only because its servers are located in Vietnam while Google’s are not, but also because it has said it “decided not to serve the segment of political queries at all.”

According to an Associated Press report published on May 17, Coc Coc is apparently redirecting queries for some politically sensitive terms to Google as a way of avoiding government anger or legal liability for sending surfers to sites containing criticism of the ruling party.

For example, search results for “Viet Tan,” a well-known overseas pro-democracy group outlawed in Vietnam, are being automatically redirected to a Google page displaying the returns for “Viet Tan.” Searches for one of the country’s most well-known dissidents, Le Quoc Quan, are dealt with in the same way.

Vietnam with its 90-million, mainly young  population has one of the fastest-growing Internet user rates in the world, a fact that encourages businesses to invest, but also a government that fears access to critical content and therefore routinely blocks and filters sensitive sites, sentences bloggers to long jail terms and is alleged to be involved in hacking attacks on websites critical of the ruling party.

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