Trung Dung and Vietnam dream

July 13, 2006

15:52′ 21/04/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: AM 758385 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
Trung Dung.

VietNamNet – “This is a talented and very special man!” That’s the first thing I heard about Trung Dung, and it made me curious.


As a habit, the first address I search to satisfy my curiosity is Google. Surprisingly, the first search result I saw was the Wikipedia page, the most popular electronic encyclopedia in the world.


Apart from a photo of Trung Dung is brief information: born and grew up in south Vietnam and migrated to the US at the age of 17; the founder and managing director of two big software companies in the US, On Display Inc., and Fogbreak Software; earned the Gold Torch award for outstanding Vietnamese-American at the annual congress of the Vietnamese-American community held in Washington D.C in 2004.The story of Trung Dung’s life and career has been published in many famous newspapers: Forbes, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also one of the 17 examples of success for immigrants in the US listed in Dan Rather’s book “The American Dream”.


I also found a series of results on Google about this young man: one of the most successful young Vietnamese-American businessmen in the US, the founder and member of the management board of the DICentral Software Company, the outstanding person of the legal organisation on immigration and an honourary member of many Vietnamese-American associations in the US.


“I have a dream…”


The road to success for Trung Dung was up and down. He came to the US with only $2 in his pocket and did not know any English. At that time he was only 17.


More than 20 years later, sitting in the living-room of VietNamNet, he is a ‘big boss’ in Silicon Valley. He owns two big software companies worth billions of US dollars. Before our eyes is a simple and calm man, who has a deep, warm voice and humble manner. These may be the characteristics that have not changed much since he came to the US.


“Luck is a very important factor. But the more important factor is one must have a real dream and know what he wants to do. Martin Lurther King had a famous statement – ‘I have a dream’. I think all of us should have a dream and try to pursue it, and hope that one day we can realize it.”


The greatest dream for Trung Dung, the 17-year-old student, at that time, might have been escaping from poverty by getting a university diploma.


Though Dung’s English was modest, his knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences helped him get into Massachusetts University. Not squandering the opportunity, he studied very well though he had to do many jobs – he was a waiter in restaurants, a cleaner at hospitals, etc. –  to have money to pay school fees, to maintain his life and send money to his family in Vietnam.


Graduating from Massachusetts University, Trung Dung continued his studies and obtained a Doctorate of Computer Sciences, and then found a stable job in a software firm in Massachusetts.


He could have been satisfied with what he had, but realizing that there was an opportunity to develop his idea on network business, Trung Dung gave up his job to follow his new dream – giving up an opportunity to have assets of shares worth US$1mil.


OnDisplay, Trung Dung’s first software company, was based on a very simple concept: producing a software product to process information from other websites, then re-clarifying the information to convenience users. As the first person to suggest the idea, and being inexperienced in the business world, Trung Dung was refused by many investors.


In its most difficult hour, OnDisplay caught the eye of an expert in e-commerce, Mark Pine, the managing director of an important division of Sybase, a big data management software company. “I see potential in Trung Dung and believe in him,” he said, after he met Trung Dung for the first time.


Mark Pine agreed to work as the managing director of OnDisplay. Two week later, the value of OnDisplay soared. This company quickly had over 80 clients, including the big e-commerce and e-portal service company, Travelocity. OnDisplay also cooperated with IBM and Microsoft and newly emerging firms like Ariba, BroadVision and CommerceOne.


In 2000, a group bought OnDisplay for $1.8bil.


However, Trung Dung’s dream wasn’t finished. Moving to California, the cradle of technology in the US, the young man invested in his second company, Fogbreak Solutions, which specialised in applications to optimise the production capacities of production lines. Fogbreak was invested in by big firms as Matrix Partners, Greylock and Sigma Partners.


Luck was an indispensable factor on the road to success for this overseas Vietnamese, but there is one thing that we can’t deny. This is the ‘luck’ of the ones who have broad vision, character, work hard, and know how to grasp opportunities.


This is the first time Trung Dung has returned to Vietnam since he left the country in 1984. “I’m very happy and really surprised. I’ve heard that Vietnam is developing very fast and has changed much but I couldn’t have imagined the extent of development and changes in the country”.


Seeing with his own eyes the changes in Vietnam, Trung Dung is not only proud but also has hopes and expectations. “This time I returned to Vietnam to determine the potential of the software industry, the Vietnamese market in general and investment opportunities. Though I am only staying here for a short period of time, I feel the energy of a busy and bustling life in Vietnam. Investment opportunities are not only in the hi-tech industry but in other fields,” he said.


“The issue that overseas Vietnamese businessmen like me attach importance to is the laws on investment and economics. The clearer they are, the easier it is for us. This is more important than preferential policies because preferential policies are temporary,” he added.


Trung Dung reads Vietnamese newspapers very often and pays special attention to economic issues, especially the equitisation of state-owned enterprises. “This is a very important move for our economy and it also creates opportunities for people like me”.


However, the road of return for this successful businessman is not limited to business. “There are many things I want to do to help Vietnam. In the future I will assist the education sector, especially primary and secondary education. This field of investment is not for profit. It is a serious task requiring serious thinking to change the social environment,” he said.


Trung Dung has begun investing in Vietnamese education by joining the management board of the Vietnam Education Fund (VEF).


When you left Vietnam in 1984, did you think that one day you would return like this? he was asked. Of course, he answered unhesitatingly. “I knew that I would return. I was just not sure when I would have an opportunity”.


Looking into his eyes, I understand his next dream is the dream of Vietnam, the dream of return.


Khanh Ngoc

2 Responses to “Trung Dung and Vietnam dream”

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