Vietnamese search engine stares down Google

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Victor Lavrenko
Victor Lavrenko, Ceo of Coc Coc

Thirteen years ago less than 1 per cent of Vietnamese could even tell you what a search engine was. But as of 2012, government statistics show that over 30 million Vietnamese had internet access, or 34 per cent of the population, a market that homegrown search engine Coc Coc is now gobbling up in its bout with Google to tap one of the world’s fastest growing internet user markets.

And growth has been occurring at a madcap pace. Daily visits nearly doubled to 160,000 on June 19 from just two weeks earlier.

The Russian-backed search engine Coc Coc, spelled “knock-knock” in English, attracts more than 2 million users every month, playing to local needs in an effort to ebb into Google’s domination of the market, Coc Coc CEO Victor Lavrenko told Inside Investor in an interview.

“To win Google’s market share, we focus on the daily needs of Vietnamese users and try to tailor our services to these needs. Take our local place search as an example. We have constructed the biggest and most updated database for place search in Vietnam,” Lavrenko, a graduate of Lomonosov Moscow State University now living in Hanoi said.

“Other examples are our browser features, which aims to solve very local issues that Vietnamese users face, such as adding tones, fast downloading, etc.”

Instantly apparent upon visiting the site, Coc Coc uniquely spins into its services a forte in mathematics in hope of inculcating a younger generation of Vietnamese on the look out for answers to homework.

“As Internet users become younger and younger, children decide the homepage and the default search engine on the family’s computer,” Lavrenko said.

Before Coc Coc emerged on the scene, now employing 300 people, there was no dominant local search engine. That all changed when the company gained investment support from partners of Digital Sky Technologies, adding to its $10 million in seed capital. Internet and search engine experts are trained by Russian expats who mainly come from Russia’s largest internet company, mail.ru.

Coc coc graph
Coc Coc’s pageviews

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.

However, when asked about difficulties the company has encountered working with government regulators, Lavrenko only beamed.

“Actually we haven’t faced any operation difficulties in Vietnam. So far the process of getting all licenses we need was quite easy and smooth,” he said.

While Google hold a dominant presence across the globe, Coc Coc looks likely to push out the search engine giant, joining the ranks of Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea.

Google has no office or staff in Vietnam as of now, and has said in a statement that it welcomes the competition. Lavrenko concurs.

“In our opinion, the more people and companies work on developing Vietnamese Internet, creating value for users, the better,” he said.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Victor Lavrenko, Ceo of Coc Coc

Thirteen years ago less than 1 per cent of Vietnamese could even tell you what a search engine was. But as of 2012, government statistics show that over 30 million Vietnamese had internet access, or 34 per cent of the population, a market that homegrown search engine Coc Coc is now gobbling up in its bout with Google to tap one of the world’s fastest growing internet user markets.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Victor Lavrenko
Victor Lavrenko, Ceo of Coc Coc

Thirteen years ago less than 1 per cent of Vietnamese could even tell you what a search engine was. But as of 2012, government statistics show that over 30 million Vietnamese had internet access, or 34 per cent of the population, a market that homegrown search engine Coc Coc is now gobbling up in its bout with Google to tap one of the world’s fastest growing internet user markets.

And growth has been occurring at a madcap pace. Daily visits nearly doubled to 160,000 on June 19 from just two weeks earlier.

The Russian-backed search engine Coc Coc, spelled “knock-knock” in English, attracts more than 2 million users every month, playing to local needs in an effort to ebb into Google’s domination of the market, Coc Coc CEO Victor Lavrenko told Inside Investor in an interview.

“To win Google’s market share, we focus on the daily needs of Vietnamese users and try to tailor our services to these needs. Take our local place search as an example. We have constructed the biggest and most updated database for place search in Vietnam,” Lavrenko, a graduate of Lomonosov Moscow State University now living in Hanoi said.

“Other examples are our browser features, which aims to solve very local issues that Vietnamese users face, such as adding tones, fast downloading, etc.”

Instantly apparent upon visiting the site, Coc Coc uniquely spins into its services a forte in mathematics in hope of inculcating a younger generation of Vietnamese on the look out for answers to homework.

“As Internet users become younger and younger, children decide the homepage and the default search engine on the family’s computer,” Lavrenko said.

Before Coc Coc emerged on the scene, now employing 300 people, there was no dominant local search engine. That all changed when the company gained investment support from partners of Digital Sky Technologies, adding to its $10 million in seed capital. Internet and search engine experts are trained by Russian expats who mainly come from Russia’s largest internet company, mail.ru.

Coc coc graph
Coc Coc’s pageviews

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.

However, when asked about difficulties the company has encountered working with government regulators, Lavrenko only beamed.

“Actually we haven’t faced any operation difficulties in Vietnam. So far the process of getting all licenses we need was quite easy and smooth,” he said.

While Google hold a dominant presence across the globe, Coc Coc looks likely to push out the search engine giant, joining the ranks of Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea.

Google has no office or staff in Vietnam as of now, and has said in a statement that it welcomes the competition. Lavrenko concurs.

“In our opinion, the more people and companies work on developing Vietnamese Internet, creating value for users, the better,” he said.

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