Zooming off: Indonesia’s ride-hailing pioneer to join cabinet

Cofounder of ride-hailing giant Gojek says he was offered a ministerial post by re-elected President Jokowi.

Nadiem Makarim Go Jek
Nadiem Makarim, chief executive officer of GoJek [File: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg]

Gojek’s chief executive officer and cofounder Nadiem Makarim said on Monday he had resigned from the ride-hailing and payments company to accept an invitation from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, to join his new cabinet.

“I have received a big honour to be able to join the cabinet,” Makarim told reporters at the presidential palace in Jakarta.

Makarim said his specific role would be announced by the president later in the week. Jokowi is expected to reveal his cabinet lineup on Wednesday.

The two had spoken about “directions to develop Indonesia in the future” including in “human capital, bureaucratic reform, and investment,” Makarim added. 

Jokowi won a second five-year term following a bitterly-fought election in April against Prabowo Subianto.

Indonesian media has linked 35-year old Makarim, the face of Gojek, to a possible cabinet post in a new digital economy ministry or education.

Gojek said it was appointing its president Andre Soelistyo and cofounder Kevin Aluwi as co-CEOs. Aluwi remains at the company where he heads the data and analytics teams.

The Indonesian company, valued at $10bn, raised more than $1bn earlier this year from backers including Alphabet’s Google and Chinese tech giants Tencent and JD.

Evolving from a ride-hailing service founded in 2010 to a one-stop app through which users can make online payments and order food and services such as massages, Gojek is now targeting a larger slice of the Southeast Asian market, where Singapore-based rival Grab currently dominates ride-sharing.

Makarim, who comes from a prominent Indonesian family, said his new role would be a continuation of a “mission” to promote Indonesia on the world’s stage.

Gojek is one of Indonesia’s five unicorns – companies that have reached $1bn in valuation without tapping the stock markets. Its backers include Google and China’s JD.com Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The others include travel site Traveloka, market places Bukalapak and Tokopedia, and Grab-backed fintech firm OVO, which competes with Gojek’s own payments platform Gopay for the top spot in Indonesia’s multi-billion dollar online payments market.

However, while the country is one of the world’s fastest largest growing internet economies, its technology firms face an acute skills shortage that Widodo has pledged to bridge.

Makarim is among several people who have said they have been offered cabinet positions, including former Constitutional Court judge Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, Erick Thohir, a successful businessman and Wishnutama Kusubandio, cofounder of TV network PT Net Mediatama Televisi.

Jokowi earlier said that he had completed picking all members of his Cabinet.

Source: News Agencies