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Jan 07, 2023 / 15:07

Vietnamese unicorn among 10 Asian companies to watch in 2023

With users in more than 130 countries, VNG aims to reach 320 million customers globally in 2023.

VNG, Vietnam’s first unicorn, has ranked among 10 Asian companies to watch in 2023, according to Nikkei Asia.

 Le Hong Minh, an Australia-educated investment banker, is founder of VNG. Photo: VNG

VNG has emerged as one of the country's most watched companies, with a possible initial public offering this year. 

The tech company has registered to trade some of its shares on a local exchange for unlisted firms, a move that is often used for companies to test the stock market before their official IPO. VNG is also reportedly eyeing a US listing.

The startup has become one of the Southeast Asian rising tech stars, providing services such as gaming, messaging, and mobile payments to artificial-intelligence voice assistants and cloud computing.

Founded in 2004 by Le Hong Minh, an Australia-educated investment banker, the tech firm started out as an online game publisher and developer called Vinagame. The company's cash cow business has expanded to other Asian markets, where it competes with rivals like Singapore-based Sea. With users in more than 130 countries, VNG aims to reach 320 million customers globally in 2023.

The Vietnamese tech company has expanded to other areas, most notably with Zalo, its messenger app launched in 2012. The service overtook Meta's Facebook Messenger in Vietnam in 2020 and now has over 74 million active users in its home market, where the app is used to chat, shop, send money and pay household bills.

After defending its home market from other tech giants and expanding regionally, the Vietnamese firm wants to accelerate its international expansion - which a US market debut would facilitate.

VNG is the only Vietnamese technology company in Nikkei Asia's list of Asian companies to watch in 2023. The regional firms include Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD, Indonesian coal miner Indika Energy, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), Japanese power chipmaker Rohm, Hong Kong-based startup Aqumon, Serum Institute of India (SII) - the world's largest vaccine maker, Xiaohongshu - a lifestyle social media platform, Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), and Nidec - Japanese motor maker.