Since we published the article on Masayoshi Son’s visit to President of Indonesia Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, during which Son pledged US$2 billion additional investment into Indonesia’s digital economy through Grab, which Softbank backs. 

Jokowi’s Instagram post called Grab the 5th unicorn of Indonesia. This is a very interesting development for Grab, which aims to become the region’s super app. 

Two green, and Indonesian companies

Everyone knows that in Indonesia, Grab has been fighting against local ride-hailing giant GoJek, which is also vying to be the super app for the region. While GoJek’s regional expansion has so far been tough, it still leads food delivery, amongst a few other sectors, in Indonesia. 

While Grab has been filling more than half of its US$6.5 billion mega H round, GoJek has also filled its war chest with investments from Thailand’s SCB, Visa and Mitsubishi. GoJek has always styled itself as a source of national pride. 

Jokowi’s statement is a major win for Grab in this regard. This is to say that Grab is, at least officially, no longer treated as a foreign company by the highest authority in the country. 

The commitment Son and Grab made for Indonesia is significant: a second HQ for Grab in the country, creation of next-generation transport infrastructure with an electric vehicle ecosystem, and more acquisitions of Indonesian startups. 

These actions are quite a natural progression for Grab’s business – ultimately Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest market, where both Grab and GoJek run the biggest network of cities. 

More opportunities ahead

Jokowi’s statement gives Grab and its investors confidence that it will be operating and competing in a fair environment, where Grab is seen as an ally of the government rather than a foreign company. 

The second HQ and acquisitions would make a big impact to Indonesia’s tech ecosystem: more jobs for aspiring youth as well as the creation of a network of exited founders who would put their money into other founders. 

Indonesian startups form the majority of the latest batch of Grab Ventures accelerator programme

While as the next-generation infrastructure will open up more opportunities for Grab, and other Softbank companies which have synergy with this vision.

A lot of exciting work can be done here – Softbank has invested in chipsets, AI, autonomous vehicles and other sectors which would contribute to this vision. 

And of course, this opens up interesting growth possibilities for Grab, in business areas as well as in company value. 

Of course, the key here is execution – good opportunities need to be seized to turn into tangible value. 

Oh, some readers asked who the other four unicorns are. They are Tokopedia, Traveloka, GoJek, and Bukalapak. We believe more will emerge very soon. 

In the next Indonesia showcase somewhere in the world, in addition to coffee, batik, culture and tourism, Indonesia will also be able to showcase a great digital economy that is fast evolving into world-leading. 

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].