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.

NuBridge Venture Summit – A Turkish Internet Milestone

Newbridge I blogged about the NuBridge Venture Summit (and the preceding NuBridge Angel Summit, which took place last week and was extremely successful) last week.  However, as we are about to kick off this event, I believe it's such an important event for the Turkish internet industry, that I wanted to blog about it again, this time in a dedicated post.

PamirgelenbeThe organizer of the event, Pamir Gelenbe, is London-based VC with Turkish roots.  He approached me with the idea that a TechTour-style mini-conference would make sense for the Turkish market, while we collaborated on the European Tech Tour's Web & Mobility Summit back in November.  I thought it was a great idea and said that we'd support the event.

 In the following months Pamir worked hard at putting together an event that now has such a spectacular line up of participants that my expectations are far exceeded.

The event's format is primarily short presentations by leading Turkish internet companies, interspersed with panel discussions by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  There will be networking opportunities that will allow participants to connect and hopefully, a few funding deals will emerge from the event.

As with all events of this type, the critical success factor is who the attendees are.  On that front, Pamir has done an excellent job and has lined up the following participants, each of whom play an important role in global venture capital:

  • 3TS
  • Accel
  • Acton Capital
  • BakerMcKenzie
  • Big Bang Ventures
  • Endeavour Vision
  • General Atlantic
  • Golden Horn Ventures
  • Holtzbrinck
  • Index Ventures
  • Sardis Capital
  • TA Asociates
  • Tiger Global
  • Tomorrow Focus AG
  • Ventech
  • Wellington Partners

For the event to accomplish its mission, an investor list of this caliber would have to be met with a local internet company line-up of equal strength.  On that end, the event boasts a who's who of Turkish internet sector:

  • Airties
  • befunky
  • Bilyoner.com
  • Cimri.com
  • Digitouch
  • Dogan Online
  • Doktorsitesi
  • Ebi
  • e-kolay
  • enuygun
  • Euromessage
  • Gamesultan
  • Gelirortaklari
  • grou.ps
  • Hepsiburada.com
  • Hitay
  • limango
  • Magnet
  • Mynet
  • Nokta
  • Sanalika
  • Sporx
  • Tasit
  • Vatan Bilgisayar
  • Yemeksepeti.com
  • Yogurt

I am very confident that this event will be looked upon as a unique milestone in the development of the Turkish internet industry.  We are very proud to have our portfolio companies (befunky, grou.ps and Yogurt for GHV and YemekSepeti.com for me) presenting, and to have had the opportunity to support this event as a sponsor.