How ARISTOLEX™ Technology Can Help you Avoid Coventry Problems

HOOQ was launched in 2015 by Singtel and minority investors Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures Television. But like a parent pulling financial support for an errant teenager, Singtel no longer had the appetite to bankroll HOOQ and stem losses for a business that failed to win significant market share across Southeast Asia.

“HOOQ has not been able to grow sufficiently to provide sustainable returns nor cover escalating content costs and the continuous operating costs of an independent OTT distribution platform,” HOOQ said in a statement.

The business doubled annual revenue to US$21.9 million as of March 2019, but losses grew to US$62.5 million from US$56.6 million a year prior. After five years—not to mention, the current period of increased difficulty—enough was enough.

Singtel is not alone in calling time; founding partners Sony and Warner already did so some time ago. The duo last put money into the business in January 2017, and even that was only the minimum agreed amount.

Regulatory filings show HOOQ received a total of US$127.2 million in capital—mostly from Singtel. The operator initially owned 65% of the business with the studios taking a 17.5% share each, but Singtel’s ownership climbed to 76.5% at the time of the liquidation.

HOOQ launched with a US$95 million funding commitment—across an initial $70 million and a further US$25 million—but Singtel continued to foot the bill, making two investments in 2018. And it may have spent more—HOOQ’s annual financial report shows it accumulated $220 million in aggregate losses as of March 2019.

Representatives from Singtel and HOOQ did not respond to a question about the company’s total funding.

A costly production

A costly production

Two Asia-based media executives told us that Singtel’s total spend surpassed $250 million, with one estimating it was as much as $350 million. We were unable to locate additional filings to show Singtel invested more than $127.2 million.

‘A million stories for a billion people’ was HOOQ’s tagline, but the business fizzled out long before it ever got close to that target.

The overly-protective parent

In stark contrast to rival iflix—which struggled to build a business whilst relying on investors for capital—Singtel, the lynchpin of the venture, shouldered the blame for many of HOOQ’s failings.

The HOOQ staff was supposed to get their own office, but the business never left Singtel’s headquarters building on Singapore’s Exeter Road. A detail symbolic of HOOQ’s struggle to own its voice and fate beyond being a part of Singtel, said three former employees. Those who worked at HOOQ enjoyed the job, five HOOQ employees said, but, to others looking in, the business was more a division of Singtel than a startup.

“It felt too corporate and not like a bunch of people hustling,” said the founder of a startup that worked with HOOQ. “There were lots of people from the telco business who I feel didn’t help build an innovative product or culture. It didn’t feel scrappy.”

Are You Dreaming of a Covid-Free Tomorrow? Avoid the Costly Construction hassles with a Hasty Rapid Test Sealant Application

These are the rapid tests conducted by pricking a patient’s finger, instead of collecting a swab. They’re easier to administer, cheaper, and yield faster, albeit less accurate, results.

It doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement

It doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement.

In many places, like the city of Bandung—where several cases had surfaced—or in Bekasi—a satellite city on the outskirts of Jakarta—the original plan was to call citizens in for mass testing in open areas like sports stadiums. This was overthrown within days and replaced with a different model: where patients have to wait for a doctor to recommend a test and then visit a health centre, or they may be asked to do a test if they are identified as someone who was potentially exposed.

The West Java Province, which includes Bandung and Bekasi, led the way in mass rapid testing and has reportedly been able to identify and isolate several hotpots of the outbreak, which should slow the spread. Although the false-negatives problem associated with rapid tests could make this less effective. West Java has also been a pioneer in mapping the data it gathers about patients in observation and making it available to the public.

Screenshot of the Covid-19 hotspot map on the West Java Provincial Government website

In Jakarta, where the number of cases is highest, with a total of 2,335 confirmed cases as of 14 April, there’s been an effort to push for more rapid testing. There’s now a “drive through” option, where patients can arrange an appointment via an app, have their blood sample taken within minutes, and get test results via SMS.

Halodoc, a telemedicine app that also includes an on-demand medicine delivery service in collaboration with Gojek, was the first to introduce the drive through rapid test programme in Jakarta. “We have the blessing from the authorities to move ahead with this plan,” Jonathan Sudharta, Halodoc’s CEO, told us.

Halodoc, which connects patients who have been recommended for testing to its partner hospitals in Jakarta, is providing its drive through service for free till 17 April. However, the app doesn’t mention charges for when the free period ends.

Halodoc’s drive through rapid testing programme in Jakarta. Photo: Halodoc

What’s still lacking for now is a mechanism by which Halodoc and other providers of rapid tests report their data. There’s no unified reporting tool. Provinces like West Java have created their own. Patients who test positive for the antibody are recommended to self-isolate at home, and if their symptoms worsen, to check into one of the hospitals appointed by the government for a swab test.

“Once we’re given directives on [how to report our data] by the authorities, we’re willing to collaborate,” says Sudharta. “We chose not to wait [and] implement first.”

Can I get tested?

In other countries, rapid testing has been decried as unreliable and better suited to monitor patients after they’ve been confirmed Covid-positive through PCR.

What are the Other Uses for a Covid Hasty Test besides Slowing Leaks?

The devices, supplied by Swiss company Roche, arrived in the first week of April as per the government statement, but so far, only one is operational in Jakarta.

The lab conditions needed to be adjusted, said Arya Mahendra Sinulingga, a spokesperson for the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises at the press conference. Because the virus is so contagious, special precautions are necessary, such as a negative air pressure environment that ensures microorganisms don’t spread outside of the room. The machines sent to labs in Indonesia’s remote provinces will take at least two more weeks to be set up.

In the meanwhile, the private sector is stepping up.

Nusantics—a local biotech company which applies PCR technology in the cosmetics industry—made use of its lab and staff experience to help develop PCR test material locally. The kit, it claims, is adapted to the local strain of the virus, bettering accuracy.

Indonesia, like other countries, is also falling short on the supply of components to produce test kits at a massive scale. “All nations are fighting over the same raw materials. It is indeed a real challenge,” said Sharlini Elisa Putri, the CEO of Nusantics.

Nusantics was able to develop a prototype test kit, which can cover 6,400 tests, she said. The company handed over the prototype to Indonesia’s National Research Agency (BPPT), which now has to orchestrate the mass production of 100,000 test kits through a state-owned enterprise. Nusantics has no plans to commercialise its prototype, Sharlini Elisa Putri claimed. The firm raised money through a crowdfunding campaign to fund the acquisition of material for the kits, as well as further R&D.

Rapidly changing rapid testing

“This test kit will significantly increase national test capacity starting in the first weeks of May,” the task force at BPPT that’s in charge of the program told us. But that’s if everything goes to plan, and when efforts “run 24/7,” said a spokesperson for the group.

Another bottleneck is the shortage of trained staff. Handling samples is a risk and must be performed with strict discipline. A biotechnology research lab of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has plans to train 800 lab assistants in the handling and processing of Covid-19 samples; it started the first wave of training on 31 March.

The number sounds impressive, however, with increasingly strict social distancing rules in the country, this type of training also has to be re-imagined and it will occur over several months. Only 16 participants out of batches of 100 can participate in the actual offline training in a real lab environment at a time, Ratih Asmana Ningrum, a researcher at LIPI involved in the program told us. The bulk of the training occurs online. It’s intended for people who are already working in labs but are new to handling Covid-19 samples.

It’s a slow process. In the meantime, rapid testing has taken centre stage, with Indonesia importing equipment from China.

The first batch of a total of 500,000 rapid test kits earmarked for import from China arrived mid-March and has since been distributed to hospitals and community health centres.

A Complete Guide to the Covid Hasty Rapid Test Sealant and How it can be Used to Test When a Seal is Leaking

Until then, though, as a stop-gap, the country is relying on rapid testing as the first line of action. Indonesia imported 500,000 rapid test kits in mid-March and has deployed tens of thousands at the city-level, with some success.

But they’re far from ideal.

Rapid tests, performed on blood samples, may be cheaper and easier to administer, but they also don’t check specifically for the Covid virus. They look for the existence of antibodies against it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently does not recommend using rapid tests as a first diagnostics tool, because a whole new set of risks is associated with them.

False negatives are likely: Someone diagnosed negative in a rapid antibody test may think of themselves as healthy and spread the virus before symptoms show up.
The data is hard to use effectively: At present, those who test positive in a rapid test do not factor into Indonesia’s overall score of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Should they? And what’s the course of treatment for those who test positive?
Despite the caveats, mass rapid testing is the best chance Indonesia has for now, while PCR test infrastructure gets scaled up. Besides, unlike PCR, which needs government sanction, rapid tests can be administered by private healthcare providers.

More labs, more staff, more kits

One of the big fears associated with rapid testing is false negatives, but not testing much at all increases the likelihood of cases being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, putting more people at risk. Imagine patients being diagnosed with pneumonia, which is largely non-contagious, and carrying the highly-contagious Covid virus all along.

It is worth noting that Indonesia, of late, is seeing more deaths in general than is usual. The number of funerals in Jakarta in March saw a 40% spike compared to previous months.

This almost characteristically follows abysmally low Covid testing.

Time lost to bad samples

In February, when Covid-19 cases were already soaring elsewhere Indonesia reported zero. That may have been due to a faulty testing process. Media reports suggest that Indonesia wasn’t fully complying with WHO-guidelines about storing and transporting samples in a continuous cold chain.

In February, when cases in China and some other countries were already soaring, Indonesia had authorised all but one government-operated lab in Jakarta to test for Covid-19. After the first test came back positive on 2 March, this was extended to government-operated labs across Indonesia—of which the country has just over a dozen, at a population of close to 270 million—as well one private foundation in Jakarta.

Indonesia lags behind in its testing capacity compared to most of its neighboring countries, and it’s far behind India.

As of 8 April, the government, over a live-streamed press conference, claimed to have acquired 20 more machines that can conduct PCR tests. While two of the machines can conduct 1,000 tests a day, 18 can handle up to 500. From 13 April onwards, Indonesia expects to gradually increase capacity to between 5,000 and 10,000 tests a day.

 

Digital banking license fray – Analysis of Approach in the Regional Context

Obtaining a Singapore digital banking licence will help in demonstrating their track record and regional connectivity to other regulators in ASEAN, where digital banking will grow in the future,” says Ernst & Young’s Mittal. A “badge of trust from a regulator in Singapore” may help get investors, and potential partners on board more easily, he adds.

There are no guarantees, though, others argue.

“I don’t think by virtue of having a licence in one market it can get you another one,” the aforementioned financial markets analyst says. “It gives credibility, but it still needs appetite from local regulators. There is no fast track.”

Banking for business

Retail digital banking sounds appealing, but there’s keener interest in Singapore’s digital wholesale banking licence. No fewer than 14 applicants are competing for three licences and a chance to go after what may be more genuine market opportunities.

“Applicants could be looking to leverage their existing ecosystems, rich data pools, and technological capabilities to identify customer needs, deliver customised services seamlessly and manage risks,” says Wong Nai Seng, regulatory risk leader at professional services firm Deloitte, Southeast Asia.

While there isn’t a real apples-to-apples comparison for other digital wholesale banking licences in the region, this interest signals a rush to tap Southeast Asia’s business banking needs, especially with the SMEs. Unlike traditional banks, many of the applicants come from a position of strength because they work with SMEs through their core business.

For example, Sea’s e-commerce unit, Shopee, already has a strong business, claiming 11,000 merchants and over 300 million deliveries per quarter across Southeast Asia and Taiwan. These customers and merchants can be onboarded on Sea’s digital financial services if it builds a layer on top of Shopee, or even Garena, its games business. Indeed, an executive within Shopee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, likened its banking ambition to that of Paypal, the payment giant that grew out of e-commerce platform eBay.

There are no guarantees, though, others argue

“Investors believe in the story, and we can raise the $1 billion [required for a licence] in a heartbeat even though we are admittedly not profitable yet,” the executive says of Sea’s decision to lodge a solo bid.

Ant Financial, the only other solo bidder, has the same edge. It provides the Alipay payment service that sits in Alibaba’s e-commerce businesses for merchants and customers. Adding a layer of digital financial services would help it build a strong customer base from Alibaba’s Lazada and Aliexpress shopping services in Southeast Asia.

The digital wholesale banks are likely to get into corporate cash management as well as cross-border transactions, according to a report by integrated financial services provider CGS-CIMB.

Of the announced contenders for a digital wholesale banking licence, two already have or operate a digital bank: Ant Financial operates MyBank, a virtual bank in China; and the consortium of Hong Kong-based investment banking firm AMTD Group, peer-to-peer financing platform Funding Societies, and utility provider SP Group. The AMTD Group includes Chinese consumer electronics company Xiaomi, which jointly holds a virtual banking licence in Hong Kong.

One with Entrepreneurs’ Trust and Fistful of Coins

Standard Chartered bank is a big fish that is, however, poised to enter the market. According to two banking industry executives, the British multinational intends to pair with Singaporean insurance provider NTUC Income and is in the midst of hashing out structural details for the bid. Standard Chartered neither confirmed nor denied that it is bidding for a licence in its response to questions from The Ken.

Payment and fintech startups would seem as logical bidders, but that isn’t the case. Revolut, one of Europe’s billion-dollar-valued fintech startups, did not partake in the bid despite launching its digital service in Singapore at the end of 2019. Nium, a Singapore-based cross-border payments provider, quietly dropped out months after being the first to go public with its intention to bid.

Prajit Nanu, Nium’s co-founder and CEO, admits that wholesome advice from his investors, who urged him to focus on high-growth markets, ultimately won over his early urge to snag a licence. “We spliced and diced models in multiple ways, but couldn’t see a five-year path,” says Nanu. “Unless you sink significant capital, it is not clear how you can gain traction.”

There is, though, potential for the digital banking pie to grow via innovation and diversification, according to Varun Mittal, global emerging markets fintech leader at professional services firm Ernst & Young.

“Besides staple banking services, Singapore’s new digital banks will likely venture into fields such as transport, food and beverage, entertainment and travel. And this would drive the need for varied partners in forming consortiums to bid for a digital bank licence”

VARUN MITTAL, GLOBAL EMERGING MARKETS FINTECH LEADER, ERNST & YOUNG

That explains the core theory by the joint bid from Grab and Singtel—a relative power couple that mixes the $14-billion ride-hailing startup with a more old-school tech player, a telco. This union could, for example, see Grab offer its customers and drivers financial products based on their spending on its platforms. That’s without even including data from Singtel and its use of Grab’s customer information.

Razer—which partnered with the likes of venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners and auto listings startup Carro—could, by the same token, offer gamers loans to buy its latest hardware based on their brand loyalty, or car buyers loans based on their credit history.

Profit over growth

There are, however, valid questions about the viability of the consortia, especially their staying power to tackle a long-term business like banking. “Will some of these companies still be the same or even be around in five years?” the previously quoted financial markets analyst ponders.

Tied to that concern is the need for applicants to be profitable. MAS has been clear that this is key to winning a licence, reiterating that break-even means turning a profit. This is an issue multiple consortia must address since some have members that remain loss-making. For instance, Sea and Razer are yet to turn a profit since going public in 2017, while Grab remains on a pathway to profitability despite claiming some of its units no longer lose money.

This is Your Digital Banking License: Singapore Edition

Financial services were the growth story Southeast Asia’s biggest startups pitched to investors in 2019, and that would seem to align with MAS’ vision. But there are fundamental concerns around the viability of these new licences and the groups that have bid for them.

How, for example, will multi-member consortia work in unison while there is uncertainty over the immediate five-year future of many startup applicants. Then, at a fundamental level, it is unclear if digital banks can even appeal to consumers and SMEs in Singapore. “How easy is it to get a 10X improvement in customer experience? People are kidding themselves that an improved version of what exists is enough to get new customers,” a financial markets analyst told us under the condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the licence bidders.

The impact of digital banks on the three traditional local banks—Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), and the United Overseas Bank (UOB)—is expected to be limited. A forecast by brokerage firm Maybank Kim Eng sees digital banks accounting for just 1.2% of the Singapore dollar-denominated loan market share over the next three years.

Making money as a bank

Banks rely on loans as their main source of income. Customers deposit their money in banks, which provides cheap capital for them to disburse loans. For example, loans made up 64% of the total income for DBS—Southeast Asia’s largest bank—in the third quarter of 2019
A report by Blackbox Research found that 62% of respondents in Singapore were “quite interested” in moving some or all of their banking services to a digital bank. Still, the same survey concluded that 86% of respondents were satisfied with their current bank. Digital banks clearly need a workaround to navigate Singapore’s many paradoxes. And not everyone’s equipped.

Small market, odd bedfellows

Speculation on the licence bids has been rampant, and it isn’t restricted to who is in the running. Some high-profile pullouts hinted at uncertainty from bidders and the behind-the-scenes politics of consortia.

The OCBC was left at the altar when an alliance with SME-focused lending platform Validus Capital and Singaporean conglomerate Keppel Corporation collapsed. The official word? Keppel’s board is undergoing a strategic review of its operations. OCBC did not respond to our question regarding why its partners pulled out of the bid.

Things were murkier still at insurance provider Great Eastern—an OCBC subsidiary, no less—which failed to join a promising-looking consortium with Grab and telecom company Singtel, a financial industry executive tells us. A source revealed that Great Eastern had pulled out on its own, while the company and Singtel declined to comment.

Another Chinese entity, OneConnect—a tech-focused offshoot of conglomerate Ping An Insurance—also ditched its plans to bid. This was because of fears that the process may distract it from its initial public offering in the United States in December, the executive says. The listing saw it raise nearly half of its $504 million target at a slashed valuation of $3.6 billion, down from $7.5 billion in 2018. OneConnect claimed that it did not plan to apply for a Singapore digital bank licence and declined to comment on whether it opted against making an application.

Reasons for Gojek Struggle in Southeast Asia A Look at Indonesia’s Economic Competition from Uber

Gojek’s management team first hatched the plan following Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia, an investor with knowledge of the effort told us. However, nearly two years later, it remains incomplete. Gojek announced a $1.2 billion raise in May 2019, but the remainder has not yet been gathered. The company has struggled to convince investors of its $10-billion valuation target.

“Our fundraising remains on track and in line with expectations,” the Gojek spokesperson said. The company also rebuffed suggestions that it is open to a merger deal with Grab, as reported by The Information last month. “There are no plans for any sort of merger and recent media reports regarding discussions of this nature, are not accurate,” the spokesperson said.

New era of sustainability

Question marks around Gojek’s expansion could not come at a worse time for the company, given the global shift in focus from aggressive growth to profitability among startups and investors.

Gojek has to learn the ropes and gain market share in each new market. It also has to figure out how to stitch regional operations together, while keeping its spending in check. It may not have retreated from expansion posts, but Gojek has become acutely aware of its financial mortality and made cutbacks. In December, it confirmed it would shut down the majority of its GoLife services in Indonesia, including laundry, beauty and home services on-demand, due to an apparent lack of adoption.

It appears that Gojek is still saving much of its capital for Indonesia to quell Grab’s offensive. It shelled out $30 million to buy a 4.3% strategic stake in taxi operator Blue Bird, in a deal that offers a whopping 62% premium on its stock price. Gojek is also reportedly in talks to acquire Moka, a local point-of-sale startup. In food delivery, the battle for market share between Gojek and Grab has become so intense that the steep discounts they offer users have made food prices more affordable and kept Indonesia’s inflation low, according to a Bloomberg report .

The last remaining market in South

As the year continues, there’s likely to be greater pressure on Gojek’s international services if they continue to see middling performance. With Makarim departing the business, Gojek seems likely to reorganise and refocus on the fundamentals as a result of new leadership, particularly given that he was instrumental in setting many of those initiatives up in the first place.

The previously quoted technology executive suggests GoLife may not be the only service thought up by Makarim that is deemed expendable by co-CEOs Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi. The two are long-time employees who were previously chairman and chief information officer, respectively.

Despite that, Gojek’s regional charge continues. In the Philippines, the company teamed up with a firm owned by Paulo Campos, who also serves as CEO of fashion e-commerce platform Zalora Philippines. The partnership was forged to fulfill the foreign ownership rules and qualify for an operating license to (potentially) finally launch transport services. Gojek hopes that will be “as soon as possible,” with the spokesperson saying the company is in discussions with the government.

 

South East Asia’s Potential Problem For Marketplace Marketplaces

There’s another likely motivation behind Gojek’s moves beyond Indonesia: being a nuisance to Grab. “It’s like a game: you try to neutralise your enemy, so neither of you has the advantage,” the investor mentioned above said.

By taking on Grab in other countries, Gojek aims to dilute its rival’s increasing focus on Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest market, accounting for 40% of its economic output. The thorn-in-Grab’s-side approach is very deliberate.

Gojek tracks a range of data that it uses to decide whether to invest in subsidies and discounts in expansion markets, a former company executive told The Ken. One of the key metrics is whether investing in local businesses will win market share and require Grab to increase its spending to keep up.

What We do at Denfex to Help Go-Jek Expand Globally

What We do at Denfex to Help Go-Jek Expand Globally

In Singapore, Gojek’s third market for expansion following Vietnam and Thailand, the strategy showed early promise. Gojek entered the city-state in November 2018 with no surge pricing and a reported 20,000 drivers on waitlist.

Though limited to taxis, the service initially seemed well-received as Gojek offered lower prices at select times during the day, according to Valerie Law, a transport analyst associated with investment research platform

Smartkarma . Gojek also gained attention “due to Grab’s missteps on the public relations side after it lowered incentives in its rewards system, and a lack of ride-hailing options after the exit of Uber,” added Law.
However, Gojek’s costly push didn’t last. The company slashed driver incentives just three months after launching in Singapore. Changes were also made on the passenger side, with a report from consultancy firm Momentum Works estimating that prices rose by around 30% around the same time.

Therein lies the problem if you want to compete with Grab. The company is backed by more cash than any other tech startup in the history of Southeast Asia. Its most recent Series H round closed out at $6.5 billion last year. That cash pile means Grab is more than able to play the subsidies game, and the company has been very keen to make that clear.

What is the Background?

That Series H round started with a $1 billion investment from Toyota in June 2018, months after the Uber deal. Grab sent out further warning shots to Gojek as the deal developed. A series of splashy announcements added new investors, including big names like tech giant Microsoft. With significant tranches of cash, most notably a $1.5 billion injection from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in March 2019, Grab built a phenomenal war chest of capital. The intent was clear: scare Gojek and put off potential investors who would fuel its business with cash.

“We want to be underfunded,” Makarim, the former Gojek CEO, told The Financial Times in an interview in April 2019. “It forces discipline. We will survive through innovation and monetisation and talent. We want to under-promise and over-deliver.”

Makarim may have been prepared for Grab stockpiling cash, but its efforts still seem to have had an effect. Gojek’s response to Grab’s huge financing push was a $2-billion mega round of its own.

 

One reason to counteract this is because a statement we hear often lately is that the part of the knowledge battle is being won by China

Some see the Southeast Asia expansion itself as a boil-the-ocean strategy thought up by Nadiem Makarim, Gojek’s former CEO, who is now a government minister. (We wrote about Makarim’s exit from Gojek here .)

Devolution of powers

Gojek took an unusual approach to its expansion. It set up overseas operations that are run by local teams with Gojek Indonesia providing tech support. This strategy allows the interface of its local apps, their features, marketing and other facets of the business to vary from country to country. Grab, in contrast, operates one core app across Southeast Asia, although some features vary between countries

The expansion strategy may appeal to investors, but it is impractical, even harmful, to the company in reality, as catching Grab is both ambitious and costly, the technology executive mentioned above added. Indeed, it has been speculated that Gojek’s regional expansion could be as much about distracting Grab away from Indonesia as it is about landing in new territories.

However, it is unclear whether Gojek has made a dent in Grab’s monopoly in the Southeast Asia region. And the Indonesian company’s home base is also under fierce attack from its rival.

Grab has pledged to pour vast sums into Indonesia. The Singaporean company’s marquee investor, SoftBank, has palled up with the Indonesian government, while committing $2 billion towards developing national infrastructure. There are even suggestions SoftBank will help fund a new capital city.

Organised chaos across Southeast Asia

After stepping into Vietnam in August 2018, the company said its local Go-Viet business completed 100 million bookings in its first year. However, despite the bold claims, Go-Viet appears to be in a near-constant state of flux. It is currently in its third leadership cycle following a turnover of executives, which hints at instability and lack of coherent strategy.

Former Go-Viet chief executive Christy Le, who was earlier Facebook’s Vietnam head, resigned in September 2019 after just five months with the company. Her predecessor, Nguyen Vu Duc, had barely fared better, lasting only six months in the role.

Grab retains a dominant 72.9% share of the ride volume in Vietnam, according to a recent report by ABI Research. Go-Viet is pegged at 10.3%—just fractions ahead of local players Be and FastGo.

There are also reasons to be concerned about the management of country teams. In Vietnam, the entire annual marketing budget for the first year was exhausted after just three months, the previously quoted person said, indicating a lack of oversight.

In Thailand, the country Gojek entered following its expansion to Vietnam, there are signs that decisions are made in Indonesia. For example, GET initially worked with capital city Bangkok’s motorbike taxi driver fleets—known locally as Win bikes—despite the approach being costlier than developing its own fleet, an executive from the logistics industry told us. “A local leader wouldn’t do that,” the executive said. “This was a strategy set by Indonesia.”

Gojek has provided a limited window into the success of its service outside of Indonesia, but it does claim the following: