Turkey’s Bright Internet Future


Last week Sina Afra had a good post on why Turkey has turned into a hot internet market, as a follow on to Robin Wauters's post on Trendyol's new round in Techcrunch.

All of this attention is obviously triggered by the tremendous year Turkish internet industry has had.  We have enjoyed a landmark period where we've seen two large exits in the $200m range to global strategic buyrs (GittiGidiyor-eBay and Markafoni-Naspers), and numerous investment rounds from top VCs like Tiger Global, Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, ePlanetEarlybird and Hummingbird.

The interest is certainly not limited to the names mentioned above.  I have probably had more conversations with global VCs about Turkey in the last 6 months than the last 6 years combined.

Sina does a good job going through some of the reasons why Turkey is so hot.  He focuses on:

  • Large internet population: estimated at 35m, 5th in Europe
  • High growth e-commerce penetration, with huge upside remaining
  • High engagement, evidenced by the huge Turkish population on Facebook
  • Favorable demographics – 70% of online population <34 years of age
  • Strong payments and logistics infrastructure, critical for e-commerce

I fully agree with all of Sina's points, and I won't spend more time on these.  Turkey's getting all kinds of investor attention in every asset class and I think the country's merits on the macro level are evident to most.

However, I do want to point out some additional key actors who have contributed to the growth of the internet sector in Turkey.

First is talent.  There is an increasing number of young, smart, well-educated entrepreneurs launching technology ventures in Turkey.  For the best and the brightest,with plenty options in traditional careers, launching or joining a startup is much more of a viable career path today.  SocialWire (aka Iletken), Peak Games, Gezlong, and KonutKredisi.com.tr are a few examples that quickly come to mind.

Second is the growing diaspora of Turkish entrepreneurs, investors and professionals around the world, interested in and supporting the Turkish internet sector.  They understand the dynamics and the promise of theTurkish market and their influence, experiences and conections have been helpful to many Turkish ventures.

Third is the Turkish interent user. When you observe the meteoric growth of Turkish ventures like Grupanya, Markafoni, Trendyol, YemekSepeti and Nokta, you realize that the Turkish internet user is hungry for high-quality offerings, both in media and services. If a venture is able to offer first rate service, the uptake is extremely fast.  Sometimes the recipients of this attention are global players, but local ventures almost always get a first shot at attention.

I continue to believe we are in the early chapters of the Turkish internet story.  I look forward to helping build the next generation of Turkish internet winners.

UPDATE: With this post, I realized I'd missed Ari's post on the same topic last week.

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