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Widodo courts 'cool factor' of unicorns to appeal to young voters

Startup-friendly policies tap into growing influence of new companies

Achmad Zaky, left, founder and CEO of e-commerce startup Bukalapak, meets with President Joko Widodo, center right, on Feb. 16. (Courtesy of president's office)

JAKARTA -- Achmad Zaky, founder and CEO of one of Indonesia's largest online marketplace apps, Bukalapak, recently found himself in hot water from President Joko Widodo's supporters for appearing to want the president to lose in April's presidential election.

Despite the gaffe, the president forgave Zaky, a sign, or rather admission, that unicorns -- private companies with valuations over $1 billion -- like Bukalapak are crucial to his bid for re-election. Indonesia is home to four unicorns, the most in Southeast Asia, and this is an easily recognizable achievement for the public. It helps him appeal to younger people, who make up a considerable portion of eligible voters.

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