The 5 times Indonesian startups almost give us a heart attack in 2017

Anisa Menur
The 5 times Indonesian startups almost give us a heart attack in 2017

Looking back into the moments when Indonesian startups made us hold our breath –for the best and the worst reasons

Can you believe that the year 2017 is going to end in less than two weeks?

Yeah, time moves so fast. I know, right?

It seems like only yesterday that these Indonesian startups made us jump from our seats with their shocking announcements (before we decided to return to our seat and start writing the news). In the spirit of nostalgia, let us take a look back into those glorious moments.

1. Indonesia finally saw, not one, but two IPOs


Many startups –from Bhinneka to Go-Jek– have talked about their long-term goal to go public for God-knows-how-long, so it came as a surprise when these two companies ended up doing it.

The IPOs of O2O e-commerce startup Kioson and digital kiosks service M Cash were actually not the very first that Indonesia had seen, since fintech startup KinerjaPay had theirs in the US a few years ago. But these IPOs become significant as it happened on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX); it has broken barriers by proving that even in this market, startups can build and gain recognition as a sustainable business.

Following on the two companies’ progress after the IPO was also an interesting feat. Both had followed up by making acquisitions to support their business, with M Cash expanding their reach by introducing its platform to mom-and-pop stores in rural areas. But the real shock came when IDX had to suspend Kioson for a day due to a significant hike of shares price.

Also Read: Here are the new services launched by startups in Indonesia this week

2. E-commerce strikes back


Up until mid-2017, covering the Indonesian e-commerce scene was very much like reading Sherlock Holmes: You thought he was dead, but guess what? He’s alive!

The year 2017 was relatively slow in terms of funding announcements, until fashion e-commerce platform Sale Stock announced a US$27 million Series B+ funding round. The news became even more ground-breaking as Sale Stock has always been perceived as a media-shy company; this was the first time they made any announcement about their funding rounds.

The situation gets even more exciting when online marketplace Tokopedia confirmed the long-rumoured US$1.1 billion investment led by Alibaba. Together with Traveloka and Go-Jek‘s funding rounds, it became the deal that defined the local tech industry this year, particularly after Google and A. T. Kearney launched a report that highlights the increasing value of startup investment in Indonesia. The deals were dubbed as the ones that helped propelled the numbers for Indonesia in 2017.

Tokopedia’s rival Bukalapak also claimed that it has reached a unicorn status following an undisclosed funding round this year.

3. NPG is finally here, you guys!


The national payment gateway (NPG) should be included in the list of things that we thought would never happened in this market —because we had to wait for such a long time.

NPG was included in Indonesia’s e-commerce roadmap as part of the government’s effort to support transition to a cashless society.

Its launch coincides with the greater effort made by local startups such as Go-Jek to expand the use of their e-wallet feature for transactions beyond the Go-Jek ecosystem. Several local telco companies have also spinned off their e-wallet services into an independent business, such as Tcash and PayPro.

Also Read: Grab joins hands with payments app PayTren to help micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia earn additional revenues

4. If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em


Acquisition is a big theme in Indonesia this year, and one of the most important example had just been confirmed this morning when Go-Jek finally announced the acquisition of three fintech startups: Kartuku, Midtrans, and Mapan.

Go-Jek’s main rival Grab had also acquired O2O e-commerce platform Kudo as part of its bid to strengthen e-payment offerings.

Global companies such as LINE messenger had also made its first acquisition in the Indonesian market through student-focussed carpooling platform TemanJalan.

In the travel tech sector, Djarum-backed online marketplace Blibli had also acquired two online travel agencies, and Indonesia Flight.

5. [Censored]


Now this part has nothing to do with Indonesian startups –it focusses more on the government instead.

The title for this part is censored because that is what the Indonesian government is really fond of doing: Censoring stuff on the internet and banning internet companies from operating.

In 2016, the big theme was taxation. Minister of Communications and Informatics Rudiantara threatened to ban internet giants such as Google and Facebook from operating in the country unless they set up a permanent legal entity in the country. This issue was finally resolved in June when Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani announced that Google and the government have reached a tax settlement.

But for 2017, pornography remains the greatest cause for censorship in Indonesia. The latest craze was when the government threatened to block WhatsApp within 48 hours if it did not remove pornographic GIFs (animated graphics files) on the platform.

Image Credit: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

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