500 Startups is proud to announce Binh Tran and Eddie Thai as venture partners. This comes shortly after increased efforts in Southeast Asia, including the launch of growth-stage acceleration service “Distro Dojo” in Malaysia, the 500 TukTuks fund for Thailand, and the extension of 500 Durians for Southeast Asia.

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Binh Tran brings more than 20 years of experience in tech.  A technologist and a four-time founder, his latest win was Klout, the Kleiner Perkins-backed social marketing startup that was acquired in 2014 at a US$200M valuation.  Binh will reside both in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, allowing him to work with Vietnamese American founders building startups for their homeland as well as supporting teams with global aspirations. Binh began angel investing three years ago and also advises several startups, including Chute, MirusSearch, and Hired.

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Eddie Thai brings experience in tech, media, and telecommunications in the U.S. and Vietnam.  He started his career working on product for Nodal Exchange, a novel combinatorial auction platform for commodity futures.  After several years working on strategy and finance for U.S. Fortune 500 companies, CJ, and other large corporates, last year he shifted back to startups, advising various Vietnamese teams including Chon.vn (acquired) and POSE.vn.  Eddie will provide 500 with on-the-ground deal sourcing, selection, and support. He received degrees from Harvard and Yale and was recently recognized in the Forbes Vietnam 30 Under 30 list.

Why Vietnam?  Because it’s big, fast-growing, and underserved by seed stage venture capital firms.  Vietnam has more people than California, New York, and Florida combined, and more than 40 million of them are on the internet.  It is one of the world’s fastest growing economies since 1990 and has been Apple’s fastest growing market in the world.  500 has invested in 3 Vietnamese startups since last year and we plan to invest in up to 20 more in the next 12 months.

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Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Startups, said “For us, it was never a question of ‘is Vietnam ready as a market?’, but rather ‘are we ready for Vietnam as a market?’, and today, we’re making our first of many moves to be ready!”

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Artwork by Yiying Lu