Indonesia’s Gojek picks minority stake in taxi giant Blue Bird for $30m

Photo by Gojek

Indonesian ride-hailing major Gojek has confirmed the acquisition of a minority stake in the country’s largest taxi operator, Blue Bird, for 411 billion rupiah ($29.8 million), marking the startup’s foray into the conventional transportation game.

Gojek bought 108 million shares, or around 4.3 per cent, of the taxi operator for 3,800 rupiah per share.

The move strengthens an existing partnership between the two companies, which has seen Gojek adding Blue Bird taxis as one of the transportation options on its app.

“The increase in collaboration with Blue Bird … allows us to improve our two main services in Indonesia — namely, payment and transportation,” Andre Soelistyo, co-CEO of Gojek, said in a statement.

Following the deal, Blue Bird passengers will be able to pay for their rides by scanning QR codes using GoPay, Gojek’s payment system. The taxi operator will also add the GoPay payment option to its own app.

With a fleet of around 23,000 taxis, Blue Bird will provide GoPay with significant additional use case as it continues to fight a stiff battle with payments rival OVO, backed by Gojek’s ride-hailing nemesis Grab.

On the transportation front, its minority ownership in Blue Bird officially brings Gojek into an arena where Grab had first entered about a year earlier. In the second half of last year, Grab quietly launched GreenLine Taxi, a conventional taxi equipped with Grab technology.

As with other conventional taxi services, Greenline can be hailed by a passenger on the street or ordered online.

Conventional taxis were predicted to be disrupted by online ride-hailers offering better technology and cheaper prices. However, despite the arrival of Gojek and Grab, Blue Bird and its peers remain the preferred choice for many users due to their perceived safety and reliability.

Expanding into the conventional taxi space was a natural step for Grab and Gojek to offer more choices to users. The move became a no-brainer in the last year after the pricing gap between online and conventional taxis was further narrowed down as the government imposed upper and lower tariff limits per kilometres on online taxis.

Interestingly, the Blue Bird partnership will also give Gojek access to electric vehicles, something rival Grab has only started to pilot through partnerships with automakers and distributors, including Hyundai, Astra Honda Motor and Gesits.

In October last year, Blue Bird introduced 25 Chinese-made BYD e6 all-electric compact multi-purpose vehicles, which will operate as regular Blue Bird taxis, and five Tesla Model X 75D mid-size all-electric luxury sport utility vehicles for its upmarket Silver Bird service.

At the launch of the vehicles, Blue Bird says it plans to increase its electric vehicle fleet to 200 by 2020.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.