Hi there, I live in Vietnam. I just saw a govt. owned newspaper (tuoi tre news) say that the Prime Minister thinks Vietnam could be the home of a tech giant like Google, Facebook, etc.
I don't think so. They have a comments section (most likely to find troublemakers like me) but I've been so frustrated that I decided to send the following reply. (If I start posting from another country, you'll know what happened).
************ In response to the PM saying that Vietnam could be the home to a tech giant **************
While I wish what PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said would happen, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Certainly there is potential in Vietnam. In my almost 10 years here, I've been impressed by the ambition, hard work ethic and focus on education that is a hallmark of the Vietnamese people. IF they think their efforts will be rewarded, the Vietnamese work just as hard the Chinese, Japanese or even Koreans (my ethnicity :); this is no doubt due to their shared confucian cultural heritage. This is in contrast to their S.E. Asian neighbors who have a more relaxed buddhist/muslim/hindu approach to life. Whether or not this "better" depends on what you think the purpose of life is, however for getting ahead in a material world it is obvious which one is more focused on the here and now instead of the hereafter (or previous life).
Unfortunately due to the, there is no way to beat around the bush, CORRUPTION in Vietnam, this potential is wasted or going abroad. I'm not singling Vietnam out, fully 85% of humanity lives under a corrupt government (http://bit.ly/2kd9LNc). However no country has created a global (tech) giant without getting corruption at least somewhat under control. I'm afraid Vietnam is far from close to doing so.
I speak from experience, I had two successful (if small) high tech companies in the U.S. before coming to Ho Chi Minh City almost 10 years ago to retire. Now, with time on my hands I've been toying around with they idea of starting a bio-tech company utilizing the latest techniques in DNA nanopore sequencing along with bioinformatics (hopefully enhanced by machine learning). However, I've found the bureaucratic hurdles to be almost unsurmountable. Just getting a simple chemical in Vietnam, a process that is literally overnight in the U.S. takes up to two months. Getting customs approval for more advanced material has been a nightmare; many times shipments are delayed on items that must be kept below freezing. I'm sure some of them have been damaged as a result.
No, much more likely than Vietnam growing its own tech giant, would it contribute to one in another country. This would follow in the fine tradition of Syria (Steve Jobs), South Africa (Elon Musk), Russia (Google founders), Andy Grove (Intel, Czech) who all went to America. Not that America is immune; now that the Trump has come, the republican party has already tried to get rid of anti-corruption efforts and his wealthy white cabinet (and himself!) are filled with major conflict of interest problems. It's sad, the people who believe Hillary was corrupt, instead of just ambitious (and what presidential candidate isn't?), were the reason why Fake news (and Russian involvement) succeeded. However, the U.S. still has many fantastic strengths, Vietnam not so much. So, while I can easily see the next tech giant being founded/run by a Vietnamese (in fact I know of someone who is well on his way to doing so in the next big thing in biotech :) I'm afraid it won't be in Vietnam.
Vietnam has been good to me, I've actually been able to gain a level of proficiency in genetics at a university here (thank you International University!) and maybe I'll even be able to repay the country a bit by doing something here (if the government doesn't kick me out). However, to really be successful, I'll need to go somewhere that doesn't require a "expedited fee" to get things done or regulations whose only purpose is to elicit said fees.
New Zealand anyone?