Le Hong Minh: From Gamer to Revolutionizing the Vietnamese Gaming Industry 

Welcome to Vietnam Untold. Today, we will delve into the remarkable journey and achievements of Le Hong Minh, the co-founder of VNG Corporation. From his humble beginnings as a game enthusiast to becoming a prominent figure in the technology industry, Minh’s entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking have propelled VNG to the forefront of Vietnam’s technology landscape. 

Born in Hanoi, Le Hong Minh co-founded VinaGames in 2004, later diversifying it to become VNG Corporation, a technology company specializing in digital content, online entertainment, social networking, and e-commerce. VNG focuses on four main businesses, including online games, platforms, digital payments, and cloud services.

Minh studied Banking and Finance at Monash University, Australia. While studying abroad, he worked part-time at convenience stores to cover living expenses and gain valuable experience.

Le Hong Minh, the founder and CEO of VNG Corporation, has carved a unique path from banking to gaming. Despite studying finance and starting his career as an investment banker at VinaCapital upon his return to Vietnam in 2001, Minh’s passion for gaming continued to thrive. In 2002, he attended the World Cyber Games in Korea, an experience that ignited his entrepreneurial spirit.

Inspired by his love for games, Minh and his friends established a small internet cafe called Gamezone in early 2003. This venture served as a place to indulge their gaming passion and a business opportunity. During the early 2000s, internet cafes were trendy, and Gamezone quickly gained traction among gamers, offering popular LAN games such as Counterstrike, Red Alert, Starcraft, and Warcraft.

However, Minh’s ambitions exceeded hosting gaming sessions at the Internet cafe. He recognized the potential for web games in Vietnam and sought to make popular titles accessible in the local language. One such game was MU Global, a web-based game already popular worldwide but only available in English. Despite initially facing rejection when trying to license the game from Korea, Minh turned his attention to China.

In China, Minh met with Lei Jun and his team from Kingsoft, a prominent Chinese software company that had developed the highly acclaimed game Swordsman Online. Despite the language barrier, Minh successfully negotiated a licensing deal for the game, which proved to be a turning point for VinaGames. Within six months of its launch in 2005, Swordsman Online, known as Vo Lam Truyen Ky in Vietnamese, amassed a staggering one million users in Vietnam.

The success of Swordsman Online marked a significant milestone for VinaGames, attracting the attention of investors.

VinaGames secured its first and only financing round from IDG Ventures in the same year. Remarkably, VNG achieved profitability in its inaugural year, a testament to Minh’s dedication and the company’s rapid expansion into various areas of the online industry.

In 2009, Vinagame underwent a significant rebranding and changed its name to VNG. With this transformation, VNG expanded its mission beyond games and ventured into various technology sectors, including social networks, e-commerce, digital content, and electronic payments. Today, VNG is a well-known and trusted name among the Vietnamese population, offering various applications and innovative technologies.

VNG is currently the leading technology company in the Vietnamese market. The company made a significant move by initiating an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States. This strategic decision is seen as a crucial step for VNG to accelerate its expansion into the global market and prepare for the ongoing wave of the fourth industrial revolution.

One of the standout components within VNG’s ecosystem is Zing Me, which emerged as the largest social network in Vietnam back in 2009. However, with the introduction and unblocking of Facebook in Vietnam, Zing Me faced swift competition and was quickly surpassed in user base and popularity.

After over a decade of growth, VNG expanded its workforce to 2,000. This startup has significantly impacted Vietnam and the region through its innovative products, such as Zalo and Zing, thanks to its team’s dedication and distinctive thinking.

Among VNG’s impressive product lineup, Zalo stands out as the most noteworthy. With a staggering user base of 100 million and an astounding one billion messages sent via Zalo daily, the platform has gained widespread popularity and engagement. VNG’s success has not gone unnoticed, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognizes it as one of the 20 fastest-growing businesses in Southeast Asia.

Through participating in these events, Minh offers valuable insights and guidance based on his journey as a successful entrepreneur. He understands the challenges and opportunities that young people and startups face, and he shares his expertise to help them navigate the complexities of the business world.

By engaging with startups and young individuals in forums and meetings, Minh plays a significant role in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. His presence and willingness to share insights inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to pursue their dreams and navigate the path to success. It also contributes to the overall growth and success of the startup ecosystem in Vietnam.

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