Facebook-like local social network Gapo launches in Vietnam

A new social network, called Gapo, has launched in Vietnam with an investment of $22 million from G Capital in an effort to shift users to a local platform amid a strong presence of global players in the market.

The $22-million capital injection will be used for Gapo’s first phase of development, the company said.

Gapo, the app that mimics Facebook, targets to acquire 3 million users in 2019, and 20 million by January 2021.

Gapo has also teamed up with Sony Music Entertainment to feature music content by the strategic partner.

“There are not many social networks for users to choose from. A lot of startups are still trying to perfect their products without making sure they are relevant to users. Gapo will focus on personalising user experience,” said Gapo CEO Ha Trung Kien.

G Group is known to operate several other tech platforms as well as a gaming community platform. The company is understood to leverage this community as a base of users for the social network.

The launch of Gapo comes at a time when the local ministry of information and communication is calling for the establishment of ‘made-in-Vietnam’ social platforms. Several apps have been built, such as VietnamTa and Hahalolo, but they have not made much headway.

Meanwhile, US giants such as Facebook and Youtube are facing several challenges related to taxation and information security while operating in the country.

Facebook and Youtube account for almost 70 per cent of advertising revenues in 2018, according to various market research reports. Of the 97 million population, 42 million Vietnamese were on Facebook everyday, local media reported in 2018.

Vietnam is also tightening scrutiny and looking at ways to prevent businesses from advertising on social media content that might carry ‘toxic’ information. In addition, a recent cybersecurity law requires internet companies operating in Vietnam to store user data locally and provide user data to the government.