Southeast Asia’s Gojek wants to expand further outside Indonesia this year, co-CEO says

Bike passengers wearing Helmet with Gojek logo.

afif c. kusuma | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Ride-hailing start-up Gojek wants to grow its business further, beyond its home base of Indonesia this year, co-CEO Kevin Aluwi said Wednesday.

“One of our primary focuses for 2021 is really to expand our footprint outside of Indonesia,” Aluwi told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia,” as part of the network’s coverage of the Davos Agenda.

“Over the last few years, we’ve definitely invested relatively smaller amounts in our markets outside of Indonesia. But, we think this is the year where we really want to spread our wings and be a regional and global business,” Aluwi added.

Gojek started in 2010 with ride-hailing in Indonesia and has since branched out into other business areas including food delivery, digital payments and logistics. It is now present in more than 200 cities across five Southeast Asian countries but Indonesia remains its top market.

Aluwi explained that some of the other countries where the company does business appear to have recovered stronger from the coronavirus pandemic.

While Southeast Asia’s most populous country has rolled out a mass immunization program, Indonesia is still grappling with bringing the virus under control — infection cases have surpassed 1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Most companies in Indonesia are going through a difficult time, including transportation services which have been severely affected, according to Aluwi. While Gojek has also felt the pinch, he credits the company’s diversification across food delivery, grocery delivery and logistics with providing “meaningful pockets of growth.”

The pandemic has pushed people globally to shop online and choose delivery instead of making trips to restaurants or supermarkets to minimize exposure to the virus. Even with vaccine programs rolling out around the world, some experts have said the shifts in consumer behavior are here to stay after the pandemic is brought under control.

Gojek is also reportedly in talks with Indonesian e-commerce player Tokopedia to seal a $18 billion merger ahead of potential IPO plans, Reuters reported this month. The deal could help Gojek take on regional rivals including Singapore-headquartered Grab and internet company Sea, which operates e-commerce platform Shopee and has a market capitalization value of about $110 billion.

Aluwi declined to comment on what he described as “merger speculation” and said Gojek’s focus is to continue building its business. He added that Gojek is “extremely optimistic” about 2021.

“We do think that 2021 is going to be a growth year and, more importantly, we spent 2020 really investing in a lot of the business and product and operational fundaments, such that profitability and long-term sustainability looks meaningfully better year-over-year,” he said.

Gojek is valued at $10 billion, according to CB Insights. Some of its prominent backers include Google, China’s Tencent, and Singapore state investor Temasek.

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