Nadiem Makarim, founder of Indonesia’s ride-hailing startup Gojek, the country’s most valuable unicorn, is resigning as chief executive officer to work for the government, TechCrunch reported on Monday (Oct. 21).
He will join Indonesia President Joko Widodo’s cabinet and his resignation from Gojek takes effect immediately.
Gojek Group President Andre Soelistyo and Gojek Co-Founder Kevin Aluwi will assume the top leadership as co-CEOs, a Gojek spokesperson told the news outlet.
“We are very proud that our founder will play such a significant role in moving Indonesia onto the global stage. It is unprecedented for a passionate local founder’s vision to be recognized as a model that can be up-scaled to help the development of an entire country,” the spokesperson said.
Gojek was Indonesia’s first unicorn in 2016 when it passed the threshold of $1 billion. Its recent $10 billion valuation puts it among Southeast Asia's most valuable unicorns. Since its 2010 launch, it had amassed more than 2 million driver partners and 400,000 merchants.
Makarim’s announcement follows the swearing-in of Widodo for a second term. Widodo has previously said that he wants young business executives to join his cabinet.
“We have planned for this possibility and there will be no disruption to our business. We will make an announcement on what this news means for Gojek within the next few days. We respect the process set out by the President and will not make a further comment until there is an official announcement from the Palace,” the spokesperson added.
Makarim, 35, said he is honored to join the president as a minister.
“I am very happy to be here today as it shows we are ready for innovation and to move forward,” he told reporters. He did not say what his position will be, but an announcement is expected later this week.
In August, Gojek was looking to acquire Moka POS, a company that makes payment terminals for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Moka was founded in 2014 and was one of the first FinTechs in Indonesia. It’s raised about $40 million from investors like Sequoia Capital. Moka has terminals peppered all over the country.