Rumors of acquisitions and alliances in Indonesia’s tech space are piling up.
Media conglomerate Emtek is said to be acquiring payment gateway Doku; Tencent is in talks to invest in motorbike-hailing app Go-Jek, said another headline; while Uber rival Grab plans to acquire Indonesia’s Kudo.
Some industry insiders say the deals forged now will decide which companies get to play in Indonesia’s top league.
Yesterday, The Information fed more grist to the mill: Ant Financial, a spin-off from Alibaba, is in talks to create a payment joint venture in Indonesia with Emtek, it reported.
None of the moves have been verified by the companies involved, and it’s possible that allegiances shift last minute when the stakes are so high. (Case in point: Ant Financial just got outbid in its effort to buy MoneyGram.)
And the stakes are high. Some industry insiders say the deals forged now will decide which companies get to play in Indonesia’s version of the “BAT” league, which refers to China’s tech giants, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. These companies are so big they’ve become the base infrastructure on top of which many other services run.
“In Indonesia it’s still to be decided who will make up the BATs, but it could be GET: Go-Jek, Emtek, Tokopedia,” says JP Ellis, an entrepreneur in the country and member of the Indonesian Fintech Association.
“Most of Indonesia’s industries end up with three to four leading players,” adds Riaz Hyder, director Macquarie Indonesia, an investment bank that works with clients in the technology, media, and telco industries, among others. “It might be interesting to see if those various alliances would provide [each player] with different niche roles, or whether it would be head to head.”
Even rivals can come together to form alliances if it serves the purpose of ending price wars, as happened when Tencent and Alibaba joined forces to merge two startups to form Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing service that eventually bought Uber’s China unit.
“All these acquisition talks are a positive sign for the ecosystem,” Ellis argues.
Go-Jek and Tokopedia are obvious choices for Indonesia’s top league. Both have evolved over years from small tech startups into platforms with a range of services, have substantial market share, and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.
Emtek isn’t a #startup – it’s a media behemoth that has made big strides in the digital space through partnerships, including with BlackBerry Messenger, iFlix, and Bukalapak, a Tokopedia rival. Acquisition talks with Doku and Ant Financial indicate an ambition to also own a payments solution.
But many other players are jostling to stand for one of the letters in Indonesia’s BAT league.
Global and Southeast Asian companies like Uber, Grab, and Lazada are strong here. Grab shares quite a few investors with its Chinese counterpart, Didi Chuxing, while Lazada is now part of the Alibaba family.
And there are more Indonesian conglomerates with internet ambitions, like Djarum, Lippo Group – which has a stake in Grab – and Sinar Mas. The archipelago could end up with a longer tech giant acronym.