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Gojek founder Nadiem Makarim quits CEO position to work for Indonesian government

By Ashley Lucas

Nadiem Makarim, Gojek founder and CEO, joins Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s cabinet as the minister of education and culture. Senior executives Andre Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi will be taking over the tech giant’s operations as co-CEOs.

  • Gojek, a unicorn valued at $10 billion with more than 20 services, changes leadership
  • Makarim will remain a passive shareholder of Gojek
  • The Gojek founder deems his appointment as a move towards the country’s innovation 

Nadiem Makarim, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Gojek, announced his departure from the ride-hailing tech company on 21 October to join Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s new cabinet. He has been appointed as Minister of Education and Culture as of 23 October.

“I am very happy to be here today as it shows we are ready for innovation and to move forward,” Makarim shared to the media upon his surprising announcement. President Widodo who is on his second term, has been vocal about his intention to “recruit” young executives for key positions in his Cabinet.

Handing over the responsibilities

With this sudden development, observers are wondering what will happen to Gojek, which is on the verge of further expansion in the the Asia Pacific.

Upon his appointment, Makarim will no longer have a role in the business but will remain as a passive shareholder. He is handing over the company to Gojek co-founder Kevin Aluwi and group president Andre Soelistyo who will serve as co-CEOs.

Makarim shared this statement upon his appointment: “High emotions are involved in running a company like Gojek but Andre and Kevin are always the steady voices of reason, approaching problems with intelligence and compassion. I couldn’t ask for better successors as the Gojek movement begins its next stage of growth.”

The new structure will have Aluwi focusing on the product development elements of the business, marketing, organisational development and the transportation and food delivery businesses. Soelistyo, on the other hand, will focus on the corporate functions and management of capital allocation, international expansion as well as the payments and financial services businesses. The two senior executives shared this statement upon Makarim’s announcement.

“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 Gojeck of the next 10 years is going to be like. This company has changed the lives of so many people in Indonesia and around the region and our key priority is to ensure that we can continue to act as a positive force in society for the foreseeable future.”

Founded in 2010, Gojek has grown from a ride-hailing startup into a tech giant with a suite of more than 20 services. The company received significant traction when it launched its own app in 2015. About a year later, it officially became a unicorn with more than a million drivers in green jackets navigating the big cities of Indonesia.

Earlier this year, Central Bank Governor Agus Martowardojo also made a surprising move similar to Makarim’s. He retired from his position as Indonesian central bank governor and finance minister to become the president commissioner of Tokopedia, another unicorn tech company known for empowering the society through technology.

These recent developments are being taken as positive indicators of Indonesia’s growth that both sectors can go hand in hand in propelling the country to the global stage. Martowardojo joined Tokopedia to “support the company’s aspirations for inclusive economic development,” while Makarim will contribute his experience and “invent a number of breakthroughs to create ready-to-work human resources” for the development of Indonesia.



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