Gojek co-founder Makarim explains decision to join govt in farewell letter to employees

Nadiem Makarim at the Bloomberg Year Ahead Asia Conference in Jakarta on Dec. 6. Photographer: Graham Crouch/Bloomberg

In a farewell letter to Gojek employees on Wednesday, co-founder and former CEO Nadiem Makarim said he decided to join the government to help transform Indonesia’s education system so it can continue producing high-quality talent.

Makarim is set to become the country’s education and culture minister, and at 35, its youngest minister to date.

“Our schools and academic institutions are going to have to meet the demands of our future economy. That’s why, when I received the mandate to be the Minister of Education and Culture, I knew it was something I had to do,” he wrote in the letter.

He also highlighted the strides made by the company since its inception nine years ago in “a tiny office in Jakarta.”

“We started this company with nothing, other than a deep desire to change things for the better. We saw that the streets of Jakarta were a mess and that there was an informal community of ojek drivers who could easily act as a huge part of the solution to that mess, if only they were organised and working efficiently,” he said.

Today, the startup, valued at around $10 billion, processes over two billion transactions a year and offers a host of services such as food delivery, ride-hailing, digital payments, shopping, hyper-local delivery, among others.

In the process of expanding vertically and geographically, the company has raised as many as 12 funding rounds totalling some $3.1 billion from investors including Google, Tencent and Warburg Pincus.

“We’re no longer a ride-hailing company, we’re now a technology business with the power to really improve life across the board – consumers, drivers, merchants, service providers and their families. Everyone has benefitted, whether we’ve reduced friction in their daily lives or we’ve created income-earning opportunities for those who need it most,” Makarim said.

Taking over from Makarim are new co-CEOs Andre Soelistyo and co-founder Kevin Aluwi. Soelistyo will focus on corporate functions and capital management, international expansion, payments and financial services while Aluwi will focus on product development, marketing, organizational development, transportation and food delivery.

In his farewell letter, Makarim said he is leaving the company in “capable hands.”

“They are quite simply Gojek’s best. They have been running this company for a number of years and I have complete faith not just in their technical skills and ability to execute flawlessly, but also in their integrity and their desire to do the right thing every step of the way,” Makarim said.

A joint statement released by Soelistyo and Aluwi on Wednesday said: “When a friend and mentor leaves a business you have built together, there is always going to be some sadness, but we are both determined that Gojek will go from strength to strength. We will continue to implement our vision as we focus on what the Gojek of the next ten years is going to be like.”

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.

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.