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Gojek co-CEO to head app giant after merger with Tokopedia

Gojek co-chief executive officer Andre Soelistyo is set to head the Indonesian app giant to be created when the transport and delivery provider merges with e-commerce company PT Tokopedia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Indonesia’s two most valuable startups are set to form a holding company called GoTo, of which Gojek’s shareholders will have 58% and Tokopedia’s owners the rest, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private. Patrick Cao, president of Tokopedia, will retain that title at the new entity, they said.

In picking Soelistyo, the merged company that’s targeting a valuation of up to US$40bil (RM164.94bil) is betting on a former private-equity investor to keep the business growing. Soelistyo, 37, has spearheaded Gojek’s diversification into consumer services and overseen more than US$5bil (RM20.61bil) of fundraising from investors including Google, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Astra International, KKR & Co and Warburg Pincus.

GoTo will have three business units: ride-hailing provider Gojek; e-commerce arm Tokopedia; and payments and financial services under the title of Dompet Karya Anak Bangsa, or DKAB, the people said. William Tanuwijaya, CEO of Tokopedia, will continue to lead the online shopping pioneer he founded in 2009, while Gojek co-CEO Kevin Aluwi will continue to helm Gojek. Group CEO Soelistyo will head the payments and financial services unit DKAB, they said.

Representatives for Gojek and Tokopedia declined to comment.

Tokopedia and Gojek are in the final stages of completing a tie-up that would create the largest internet company in the world’s fourth most-populous nation. Their boards and management teams have agreed on terms of the merger and are formally seeking approval for the combination from shareholders, putting the deal on track for completion as soon as this summer, Bloomberg News reported this month.

Soelistyo’s relationship with Gojek began when he was working at private-equity firm Northstar Group, which became the first institutional investor in the upstart in its early days.

Gojek was started as a call center in 2010 by entrepreneur Nadiem Makarim to arrange courier deliveries in Jakarta. Everything was manual: employees called motorbike drivers one by one until someone accepted an order. Makarim worked at other startups so he could keep the fledgling operation alive.

With backing from Northstar, Makarim decided in 2014 to develop a mobile app. When that debuted in early 2015, the service was so popular Gojek couldn’t cope with demand. Soelistyo joined Gojek as president that year and has helped to expand it to about 20 consumer services, including telehealth and personal investment.

He was named co-CEO together with Aluwi in October 2019 when Makarim accepted a minister’s post in Indonesia’s government and resigned from Gojek. – Bloomberg

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