When Indonesia’s ride-hailing-led super app Gojek kicked off a multibillion-dollar merger with e-commerce giant Tokopedia in May 2021 and then announced it would list on the Indonesian stock market, Andre Soelistyo immediately became the standout star of Indonesia’s fast-rising tech sector. He is also CEO of GoTo Financial, the arm of the company that aims to leverage its huge customer data into financial services. GoTo Group, whose backers include heavyweights such as Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba, said it has more than 100 million monthly active users as well as about 2.5 million registered drivers and 14 million registered merchants.
Together with Harvard Business School classmate Nadiem Makarim, ex–private equity banker Soelistyo founded Gojek in 2010 — initially as a call center to corral two-wheeler taxis called ojeks, a key mode of transport in Jakarta’s traffic-snarled thoroughfares. It rapidly evolved into a ride-hailing service and caught on in a market that global rival Uber was never able to crack. Its services have multiplied since then, steered by Soelistyo. Unlike Uber or its local Singapore-based rival Grab, a user on GoTo can call a motorbike driver (ride-hailing), order a fresh noodle dish (delivery) or a pile of napkins (e-commerce), and pay with the brand’s digital wallet (finance), all with a tap of the same app.
As a public company, Soelistyo will be under pressure to show that rationalization measures during the pandemic have been paying off. Regionally, its ambitions are shifting: Gojek has already announced it will be withdrawing from Thailand in favor of focusing more heavily on Singapore and Vietnam. And there are problems on the horizon: rising discontent from delivery workers, who are beginning to set up driver unions to defend their rights, as well as the uncertainties of listing on a still-maturing stock market.