Nadiem Makarim steps down from Gojek CEO role, to join Jokowi’s cabinet

Nadiem Makarim, founder of the Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Gojek waves to journalists as he arrives at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Gojek founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim has stepped down from his role at the ride-hailing major and is joining Indonesia president Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s new cabinet.

“Nadiem’s departure will see Andre Soelistyo, Gojek Group President, and Kevin Aluwi, Gojek co-founder, share responsibility for leading the company through its next stage of growth as co-CEOs,” Gojek said in a statement.

Makarim appeared at the state palace on Monday ahead of a cabinet announcement by President Jokowi, who was sworn in for a second term on Sunday. The startup founder told local reporters that he had quit Gojek to become a minister in the president’s new cabinet but refused to divulge further details. Local media is rife with speculation that he could assume a role in a newly created digital economy ministry or in education.

“I feel it’s an honour for me that I have been asked to join the cabinet… I am very happy to be here today because it shows that we are ready for innovation and to move forward,” Makarim told reporters at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. His appointment to a cabinet post is in line with the Indonesia president’s stated aim to include professionals and millennials in his team.

Makarim founded Gojek in 2010 as a motorbike (or ojek) hailing service and has since scaled it to become Indonesia’s first decacorn, or a startup valued at $10 billion or more. Today, it offers a range of services, including food delivery, ride-hailing, digital payments, shopping, hyper-local delivery and lifestyle services. As of 2018, Gojek claims to have processed more than $9 billion annualized gross transaction value (GTV) across all its markets, including Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Gojek’s investors include Google, Tencent Holdings, JD.com, Warburg Pincus and Indonesian conglomerate Astra. The company, Soelistyo had earlier said, is on track to raise $2 billion by the end of this year as part of an ongoing funding round.

Makarim hails from a prominent Indonesian family. His grandfather was an independence hero, his mother is an anti-corruption activist and his father, a renowned lawyer.

The new co-CEOs

At Gojek, Soelistyo is understood to have been running the day-to-day operations — much like his contemporary Ming Maa at rival Grab — even before Makarim’s departure. A former executive director at Northstar Group, he joined Gojek as company president in 2016, a year after the PE firm first invested in the ride-hailing company.

Soelistyo and Makarim had previously worked together at fintech startup Kartuku, where the former was a commissioner and the latter, the chief innovation officer. Makarim later quit the startup to work on Gojek full time in 2014.

Aluwi, meanwhile, co-founded Gojek after spending two years as the head of business intelligence at Zalora. He was most recently spearheading the unicorn’s data science and analytics teams.

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.