Today (11 Dec 2023), GoTo and TikTok announced a strategic partnership. Under the deal, TikTok Shop Indonesia will merge with Tokopedia, and TikTok will own 75.01% of the new entity.
The shopping feature within the TikTok app will now be owned and operated by the “enlarged entity”. i.e. the shopping conversion will still happen inside the TikTok app – with obviously much higher conversion compared to other alternatives.
While many have focused on the US$1.5 billion that TikTok pledges to invest into the ‘enlarged entity’ without “additional dilution” to GoTo, there are more interesting implications to various parties.
Here is a quick and dirty analysis on the winners and losers of this deal.
Let me explain in more detail about the implications.
1. The Winners
TikTok Shop, TikTok, ByteDance and shareholders of Bytedance
- The deal is a masterstroke.
- By taking over Tokopedia at no cost (to the contrary, GoTo pays TikTok US$340 million), TikTok Shop will gain full operational control, legitimacy of operating ecommerce and some useful local allies.
- The leaders can now move on to focus their attention on the US market;
Shou Zi Chow, CEO of TikTok
- Although he might not be the ultimate decision maker for this deal, the deal does solve a big headache.
- Besides, TikTok Shop being active also helps increase the active users of TikTok, a double win for him;
- This deal will save the company from the seemingly irreversible decline until now.
- Tokopedia will remain a going concern, and probably will thrive with TikTok now as the biggest shareholder;
- Although it seems that GoTo is ceding the control of Tokopedia at a very cheap price, it is important to note that Tokopedia has been a declining and money losing business.
- Having a capable new owner TikTok taking over while retaining a quarter of the shares will surely give GoTo Group good upside;
Patrick Walujo (CEO of GoTo Group)
- This deal cements his role as power broker between TikTok and local interests in Indonesia.
- There will be a lot of future opportunities he can tap into. Besides, as Group CEO of GoTo, now he has one less thing to worry about after divesting the control of Tokopedia.
- Will Patrick also try to divest Gojek?
Speculators who bought GoTo shares at the end of October
- From the end of October till last Friday, GoTo’s shares had risen more than 92%.
- The double digit drop in share price today seems to be speculators profiting;
Indonesian consumers & digital ecosystem as a whole
- Better deals for consumers as competition between TikTok and Shopee will intensify, who can complain?
- Besides, with the additional investment TikTok will put in, the whole digital ecosystem will surely benefit
Employees of TikTok Shop in Indonesia
- They no longer need to fear retrenchment, in fact the combined company will probably be in hiring mode very soon;
2. The losers
Shopee, and Sea Group
- After taking over Tokopedia, TikTok will see Shopee as the only target to overtake – especially when Shopee had demonstrated that ecommerce in Southeast Asia can be profitable;
- We have mentioned before in our TikTokShop Playbook and Ecommerce in Southeast Asia reports, purely on ecommerce products, operations and warchest, Shopee will not be able to beat TikTok Shop head on.
- Shopee needs a very clear strategy to win this game, and the key to winning might not be in ecommerce;
- The Not so clear stakeholders & ecosystem players:
Shareholders of GoTo Group
- The rally in the last two months does not change the fact that GoTo’s valuation is still a question mark. For large shareholders who are looking to divest, it will probably challenging for a while;
- If divesting the control of Tokopedia works out for GoTo Group and Patrick Walujo, why shouldn’t they consider divesting Gojek as well such that GoTo can focus on building financial services?
- If that happens, a good opportunity might present for Grab to finally end the local services competition in Indonesia.
- However, maybe TikTok by then would be interested in Gojek as well?
- With James Chang now at the helm, Lazada Indonesia has been navigating on differentiated value propositions compared to Shopee and TikTok Shop. Brands still by and large prefer Lazada, an advantage that it will (and should) not easily cede;
Employees of Tokopedia
- How would they, especially the managers, fare in the combined entity?
- Many will benefit from TikTok Shop, while others will probably lose businesses.
- While TikTok Shop in the future will do more to help MSMEs as a whole, as opposed to what happened in the past – it is really up to the owners of those MSMEs whether they want to seize this new, oversized channel;
The structure of this deal is surprisingly good for TikTok. It bypasses many of the technical challenges and allows almost full operational control of Tokopedia by TikTok, which not only has unlimited customer traffic, but also knows how to monetise this traffic well through ecommerce.
If implemented and executed well, this will definitely reshape the competitive landscape in Indonesia, and put Shopee in a tricky, defensive position.
Of course, we do not yet know the political dynamics post the presidential elections, and thus can’t rule out other surprising evolutions of the ecommerce competitive landscape in Indonesia.