Grab names ex-Unilever exec as managing director in Vietnam

According to a media statement, Nguyen spent 17 years at Unilever in Vietnam, most recently as vice president of its beauty and personal care division. She also handled the firm’s media strategy.

In her new role, Nguyen will oversee business strategy and operations across all of Grab’s businesses in Vietnam as the company looks to strengthen its super-app proposition in the country.

Outgoing country head Jerry Lim will return home to a Singapore-based role as regional head of customer experience. Lim will lead Grab’s customer experience teams across eight Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, to place a greater focus on customer self-service, automation, and AI.

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During his three years in Vietnam, Lim was credited with driving Grab’s expansion from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2014 to its current operational footprint that covers 43 cities. He also oversaw GrabFood’s launch in Vietnam in 2018.

In August, Grab announced an additional investment of US$500 million for Vietnam over the next five years. Grab has been expanding aggressively across verticals in the country and has cultivated ties with government stakeholders through various transport and social projects.

Nguyen’s appointment marks a major restructuring for Grab in Vietnam as it enters the next phase of growth. The company was entangled in a lengthy 18-month lawsuit with Vinasun, one of Vietnam’s biggest taxi firms. It is also at the center of constant opposition from the country’s existing taxi industry.

Notably, Gojek’s subsidiary in the country, GoViet, has not appointed a CEO following the departure of Christy Trang Le back in September. Local competitor Be’s CEO also resigned last month.

Stakeholders in Vietnam’s ride-hailing industry are waiting for the government to release a decree on transportation businesses after three years of debate on new regulations. This could subject ride-hailing companies that operate in the country to stricter requirements.

TikTok now has a content advisory your story panel

TikTok announced its new content advisory council Wednesday, saying the panel will help shape policies for the video-sharing app. The council includes tech and safety experts, according to the Chinese-owned social media platform, and all have expertise in areas like misinformation, hate speech, child safety or bullying.

“TikTok is a place where everyone’s creative side is welcome,” the company said in a statement. “We will call upon our council to provide unvarnished views on and advice around TikTok’s policies and practices as we continually work to improve in the challenging area of content moderation.”

Earlier this week, TikTok was called out for telling its content moderators to suppress videos from users deemed to be too ugly or poor, according to internal documents published by The Intercept. Videos were prevented from reaching the For You page if they were from users with scars, wrinkles, fangs or beer bellies — or videos filmed in a “shabby and dilapidated” place. Political posts were also suppressed, according to the documents.

Last week, TikTok said it will open a transparency center at its office in Los Angeles as part of its effort to “deepen our engagement with, and earn the trust of, our community as well as policymakers and the broader public.”

The council includes Hany Farid, a deepfake expert from UC Berkeley; Mary Anne Franks, a discrimination, safety and online identity expert from University of Miami Law School; Dawn Nunziato, a free speech and content regulation expert and chair of George Washington University Law School; Vicki Harrison, a social worker from Stanford Psychiatry Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing; Rob Atkinson, a tech policy expert from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; David Ryan Polgar, an expert in tech ethics from All Tech Is Human; and Dan Schnur, an expert on political communications from USC Annenberg Center on Communication and UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

The panel plans to hold meetings with US leaders.

TikTok, a social media platform where users post short videos, was the most downloaded app of 2019 with more than 700 million downloads. But US politicians argued the Chinese-based company could pose a national security threat, and kicked off an investigation.

The US Army banned TikTok from government phones after Pentagon guidance and a similar ban by the US Navy. TSA stopped using TikTok videos in its social media posts last month.

It’s confirmed! Foodpanda quits Vietnam

It’s not just a rumor. Rocket Internet’s online food delivery service Foodpanda has shut down in Vietnam.

Tim Schefenacker, Foodpanda’s global head for communications, told Tech in Asia today: “Yes, I can confirm that we have decided to close down our business in Vietnam.”

“We saw a smaller and rather long-term opportunity in Vietnam compared to our other markets and therefore want to focus stronger on [the latter], given Foodpanda’s focus on profitability,” he explained, offering no specifics.

A “notice of termination” from Foodpanda informing its restaurant partners of its decision was making the rounds on social media. Local news site Genk ran a story, along with the document. Tim verified that the document was legitimate.

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Image courtesy of Genk

Image taken from Genk

Big trouble in little Vietnam

In the notice dated December 2, Foodpanda’s general director for Vietnam Trương Duy Linh said the company was suffering from a “financial situation” and “facing many difficulties.”

He further said that five days following the announcement, the company would cease all business activities in the country, primarily its website

Foodpanda launched in Vietnam under the HungryPanda banner in 2012, a time when competition in this sector was already heating up around Asia. In Vietnam, the company had to work hard to deal with strong homegrown brands Vietnammm and is backed by one of Vietnam’s most prominent online media companies, VC Corp. Takeaway, one of the world’s biggest online food delivery services, bought a stake in Vietnammm, bringing the rivalry to a whole new level.

All companies were said to have been amping up their marketing and advertising spend in the country. Genk reported that up to the end of 2014, Foodpanda was aggressively fighting for its share of the market and was even advertising on TV.

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Around the globe, Foodpanda and sister site Hellofood are competing head-on with a variety of meal delivery sites and apps. Foodpanda has gobbled up competitors in Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Eastern Europe, India, and Southeast Asia, bringing its restaurant partners to more than 38,000 in 500 cities worldwide at the latest count.