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Google invests in Go-Jek in its first big Indonesian venture

Deal adds firepower for ride-hailing startup battling Uber and Grab

A woman rides on the back of a motorbike, part of the Go-Jek ride-hailing service, on a busy street in central Jakarta.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Google said on Monday it has invested in Indonesia's Go-Jek, adding firepower for the startup in its battle against ride-hailing rivals Uber and Grab.

The move marks Google's first major investment in an Indonesian startup. The announcement, which confirmed earlier media reports, is also the latest addition to Go-Jek's list of high-profile investors that already include Tencent Holdings, JD.com, investment firms KKR and Warburg Pincus.

In a blog post, Caesar Sengupta, VP of Google's Next Billion Users Team, said the deal will enable Google to "partner with a great local champion in Indonesia's flourishing startup ecosystem, while also deepening our commitment to Indonesia's internet economy."

He added: "Indonesians continue to embrace the internet rapidly and half of Indonesia's population has yet to connect to the internet."

Go-Jek's smartphone app offers on-demand two- and four-wheeler taxis as well as food delivery, grocery shopping and ticket reservations. Launched in early 2015, the app took off in traffic-clogged Jakarta and eventually across the country as the company expanded its services. In December, Go-Jek said it had 15 million weekly active users and processed more than 100 million transactions per month.

Several media outlets recently reported that Google, along with Singapore's sovereign fund Temasek Holdings and China's Meituan-Dianping, invested in Go-Jek which valued the company at around $4 billion. A spokesperson for Google's Indonesian unit declined to comment on the terms of the investment.

The fresh investment will help Go-Jek's push into the payments business, an area that it has identified as one of its top priorities this year. In December, it announced the acquisition of three payments-related companies and integrated their top management to the development team of Go-Pay, the app's e-wallet service.

Online payments are seen as key to attracting users in Indonesia, where less than 10% of adults own a credit card. Grab has also been investing heavily in Indonesia's online payment space, recently announcing a partnership with local bill payment app Paytren.

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