Indonesian President Joko Widodo is taking a well-traveled path to California later this month, just weeks after leaders from China and India traveled there. Like his predecessors, he plans to meet with Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Tim Cook of Apple. And judging by the eye-watering venture capital investments going into Indonesia lately, to include last month’s US$500 million funding round for e-commerce platform Matahari Mall, the country’s reputation as a technology hotspot is on the rise.

Despite relatively poor Internet speeds and adoption rates, technology is quickly re-shaping the market for ride-sharing on motorbikes – by far the most popular mode of commuting in Jakarta. Motorbikes and scooters account for over 82 percent of the country’s registered vehicles. Uber, the famously combative ride-sharing app, has not achieved great success in Jakarta (in part, we suspect, because it is the world’s most congested city). Motor bikes and scooters move more quickly on Jakarta’s crowded streets.

Go-Jek, one of Indonesia’s hottest new startups, is thriving on that trend. Billed as ‘Uber for motorscooters’, the company is competing head-on with rival GrabBike. We note that the latter addresses their customers as ‘Grabbers’, which we suppose sounds slightly less creepy to the Indonesian ear.

Interestingly, the companies’ founders were in the same class at Harvard Business School. Go-Jek has refused to disclose information about its fundraising. But, on 15 October TechCrunch reported that the company has confirmed an investment from US venture capital heavyweight Sequoia Capital, who were also a prominent investor in Matahari Mall.

Photo Credit: http://dailybouncer.com/

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