Go-Studio was also hampered by the commercial failure of a high-profile production called Foxtrot 6—an action film set in the future, featuring some of Indonesia’s best-known actors.
“The Foxtrot film was invested in heavily and it didn’t pan out,” said a former Gojek employee who requested anonymity. “It didn’t bring the returns they were supposed to.”
The controversial film projects coincided with internal disagreements at Gojek about the structure and alignment of its entertainment arm. The original leadership of Go-Studio was eventually replaced and reorganised as GoPlay Originals. Go-Live, a division that was meant to stage live events such as e-sports competitions and concerts, was disbanded.
Building an ecosystem
Gojek’s interest in content and entertainment grew after the 2017 acquisition of Indonesian online ticketing startup Loket, according to a former employee of GoEntertainment, which is Gojek’s umbrella unit for content and events. Founded in 2013 by serial tech entrepreneur Edy Sulistyo, Loket was built for event organisers to handle ticket distribution and payments for concerts and sports tournaments.
The tech Loket had was good, and the company was an expert at implementing it on a mass scale. Loket got the chance to prove this during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. Ticket sales had been chaotic, with some events playing out in front of half-empty stadiums, even though distributors claimed they had sold out. When ticket sales were moved to Loket, the situation improved.
What Loket lacked was business experience, the former GoEntertainment employee said, which is why the Gojek takeover made sense. Gojek wanted to integrate Loket’s ticketing expertise with its app, where it already offered ticket sales through its GoTix feature, and its wallet GoPay. Gojek users could now use GoPay to not just pay for their rides and food deliveries, but also to purchase tickets for events and movies.
Overkill in Content. How did they plan before realizing there isn’t a big enough market?
Gojek’s ambitions continued to grow. Instead of supporting others’ films and events, Gojek realised it could make its own movies to distribute through its channel. The driving force behind this line of thought was to extend the use cases for GoPay, another former employee said.
In Indonesia, only 2% of the 260 million people have credit cards, which means mobile wallets are usually pre-loaded with credit. Gojek made this easy by letting people use their drivers as pay-in points: you’d give them cash, and they’d top up the desired amount in your GoPay wallet.
Now, Gojek wanted to introduce more ways for users to spend GoPay credits. Buying event tickets was obvious, but paying for content seemed like an achievable next step. Gojek equipped its new Go-Studio and Go-Live divisions’ team leaders with a bold vision and the promise of funds to get there.
There was talk of a “US$80 million-90 million budget” for the entertainment group, one former employee said. Gojek wanted to get into live events, such as e-sports and pop concerts. The film division was supposed to get US$50 million, but that sum was then chopped down to US$4 million, said another former employee.