Indonesia’s Go-Jek raises $550 million to battle Uber and Grab

Go-Jek, the on-demand motorbike taxi service that rivals Uber and Grab in Indonesia, has closed $550 million in new funding, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. The deal values Go-Jek at $1.3 billion (post-money) and could be announced as soon as this week, we understand.

Go-Jek did not respond to a request for comment or confirmation.

Update: The round has been confirmed.

The company plans to spend the money growing its services businesses, and continuing to compete with its fierce rivals in Indonesia. It doesn’t appear that this round will fund an expansion outside of Indonesia, according to our source.

The Wall Street Journal last month reported that Go-Jek was in talks to raise $400 million, with KKR and Warburg Pincus among the potential new backers. The startup’s existing investors include Sequoia Capital, DST Global and Singapore-based NSI Ventures.

The deal makes Go-Jek one of the few unicorns in Southeast Asia. Others tech companies valued in excess of $1 billion include games firm Garena ($3.75 billion), Go-Jek rival Grab (estimated $1.5 billion-$1.6 billion) and Amazon-like shopping site Lazada ($1.5 billion valuation).

Go-Jek was founded in 2010, but it didn’t begin to take off in a major way until 2014, as this profile explains. It then grew faster after it introduced a mobile booking app in early 2015.

Go-Jek claims 200,000 motorbike drivers — known as “ojeks” in Indonesia — in its fleet across Indonesia, which is the world’s fourth largest country with a population of more than 250 million people.

The company is best known for hailing motorbike taxis on demand, a type of transportation popular in parts of Southeast Asia where heavy urban traffic makes two wheels faster than four. Demand is particularly high in Jakarta, which is home to some 30 million people and is one of the planet’s most congested cities. In addition to regular rides, Go-Jek offers on-demand services like food, shopping and package deliveries.

The company said recently that it processed 20 million booking requests in June 2016, or around 667,000 per day. Internal documents seen by TechCrunch show it fulfilled 256,000 rides per day, as of April 2016.

Grab introduced a similar service, GrabBike, to Indonesia last year, and Uber’s UberMoto competitor showed up in the country this year — but Go-Jek is widely acknowledged to be leading the pack in Indonesia.

This new fund raising comes at an interesting time for Southeast Asia’s on-demand services. Uber’s decision to sell its China operations to Didi Chuxing is likely to mean that the U.S. company — valued at $66 billion — will divert more resources into Southeast Asia and India, potentially increasing the competition with Grab in its six markets and Go-Jek in Indonesia. Uber has already started launching new services across Southeast Asia and reached operational profitability in two countries.

Grab meanwhile welcomes Didi’s deal with Uber as evidence that the U.S. ridehailing giant can be defeated by local rivals. The Didi-Uber deal seemed to throw Grab’s alliance with Didi, which invested in the Singapore-based company last year, into jeopardy, but Didi is reportedly leading a new round of investment in Grab, according to both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. That round could reportedly rise to $1 billion, while Grab has said that it is still yet to touch the $350 million Series E round that it raised one year ago.

Internal documents viewed by TechCrunch show that Go-Jek had $104 million in cash on its books as of March and that it spent $73 million over the previous six-month period. Given the increased competition it is likely to face, this new raise is hugely important if it is to continue to compete with its cash-rich rivals on subsidies and marketing.

Updated 08/04 5:30 PDT to clarify valuation is post-money