Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong

In episode 329, Jon Russell, editor of The Ken Southeast Asia, joined us in a conversation to discuss the continuing epic rivalry between Gojek and Grab in the era of COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from the perspective of Gojek, we discuss the impact and changes made after the founder's departure and how they are re-organizing to tackle Grab's onslaught in Indonesia and expanding out to other parts of Southeast Asia from Indonesia. With new investments from US tech giants, Facebook and Paypal, we discuss how Gojek is shaping itself to be a worthy rival against Grab backed by SoftBank and Alibaba in Southeast Asia. Last but not least, Jon discuss why the media streaming giants of Southeast Asia, HOOQ & iFlix failed to take on Netflix and the key takeaways for unicorn start-ups in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion:

  • Jon Russell (@jonrussell, LinkedIn, Newsletter, Personal Site, The Ken Profile)
    • Since we have last spoken, you have moved out of TechCrunch and now joined The Ken. Can you talk about The Ken and what is your new role there?
  • Grab vs Gojek in 2020
    • Let’s start from Gojek, a lot of things have happened. Their founder and former CEO, Nadiem Makarim has left the company and become a Minister of Education & Culture under President Jokowi’s cabinet in Indonesia. What’s the impact on Gojek after his departure? (Ref: Up for Grab? Gojek after Nadiem Makarim)
    • They have started the expansion to Southeast Asia last year but it has not grown very well. (Ref: Gojek’s stunted SE Asia expansion story), can you talk about their challenges in expanding out of Indonesia while dealing with Grab who is competing in their backyard?
    • That being said, they have been doing well on the fundraising front: Gojek has been invested by Facebook and Paypal (Source: CNBC). 
    • What are the implications to Gojek as Google, Paypal and Facebook are lining up against Grab? (Ref: Facebook, PayPal’s payments play a super app-ortunity for Gojek)
    • The US tech giants are in Indonesia just as the Chinese tech giants, for example, Meituan-Dianping which is a super app entering the market. What can Gojek and Grab learn from Meituan-Dianping? (Ref: The Gojek-Grab SE Asia super app battle with a Meituan twist)
    • What is the impact of COVID-19 on Grab and Gojek?
    • Both Gojek and Grab have done layoffs in the past month. How do you look at the approaches from both companies? (Grab CEO’s memo, Gojek’s layoffs)
    • SoftBank has been taking a hit from Wework and Oyo. What is the downstream impact to Grab based on the current troubles in the Vision Fund?
    • Is the race to dominate Southeast Asia going down to whether Grab or Gojek wins Indonesia and not the other countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia, Singapore)? 
    • What will the key battleground for Grab and Gojek in the coming 2021? 
  • Impact of COVID-19 to Southeast Asia 
    • You have written a lot of media streaming companies similar to Netflix, for example HOOQ from Singapore and iFlix from Malaysia. The COVID-19 pandemic have led to HOOQ being shut down and iFlix being acquired from Tencent. What are the key learnings from HOOQ’s downfall and iFlix’s acquisition? 
    • What are the key takeaways from the COVID pandemic for Southeast Asia? (Ref: 7 takeaways from Covid-time digital winners and losers in Southeast Asia)
  • Closing
    • Can you recommend a book or movie or podcast or anything which recently made an impact to your work and personal life?
    • How do my audience find you? 

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted and produced by Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin) and originally created by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, "The Beginning" from Red Cliff Soundtrack.

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