Cool Japan Fund invests $50 mil. in Indonesian ride-hailing giant to promote Japanese culture, food

19, Oct. 2019

Go-Jek Chief Food Officer Catherine Hindra Sutjahyo (C), Cool Japan Fund President and CEO Naoki Kitagawa (R) and Cool Japan Fund Managing Director Ken Matsumoto (L) shake hands at a meeting in Tokyo on Oct. 17, 2019.
Go-Jek Chief Food Officer Catherine Hindra Sutjahyo (C), Cool Japan Fund President and CEO Naoki Kitagawa (R) and Cool Japan Fund Managing Director Ken Matsumoto (L) shake hands at a meeting in Tokyo on Oct. 17, 2019.

TOKYO, NNA - Cool Japan Fund Inc., an investment vehicle that promotes Japanese commerce abroad, has injected $50 million into Go-Jek, the Indonesian operator of ride-hailing and various services, to promote entertainment and food in the populous, fast-growing Southeast Asian country.

The public-private Japanese fund announced the investment on Thursday, a move expected to “generate fresh demand for Japanese food and content” in Indonesia through Go-Jek’s applications, Cool Japan Fund said in a statement.

Cool Japan Fund will provide Japanese movies and animations through Go-Jek’s mobile-only video-streamlining platform GoPlay, which launched in September. Go-Jek will use the funds to procure Japanese content and produce and promote original works, the statement said.

Cool Japan Fund will also partner with Go-Jek’s food delivery service “GoFood” and cooperate with its “GoFood Festival” project. The festival service operates clusters of food-vending stalls in town. The fund operators hope to draw on Go-Jek’s client network and data to expand opportunities for Japanese providers to join the food stall business, the statement added.

“We want the service to be utilized by food service operators, who are considering moving from Japan to Indonesia, as well as operators who have already moved into Indonesia when they conduct market research,” Cool Japan Fund Managing Director Ken Matsumoto said

“Welcome competition with Grab”

Go-Jek was established in 2010 and started offering smartphone apps in 2015 to become one of the largest digital platforms in Southeast Asia. The firm valued at over $10 billion offers more than 20 services that include ride-hailing and digital payments. The services cover 207 cities in Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Japanese companies are keen now to grow their business through Go-Jek. In July alone, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. announced a joint investment in the Indonesian firm. Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Co. also said it will inject capital.

Go-Jek is vying with Singapore-based major ride-hailing firm Grab Holdings Inc., in ride-hailing and digital payments.

Go-Jek Chief Food Officer Catherine Hindra Sutjahyo told NNA that Go-Jek welcomes the competition with Grab for the mutual benefit of technological advancement. But Go-Jek, she said, knows more about what Indonesian consumers want.

Cool Japan’s 12th investment since the start of the new management

Established in 2013, Cool Japan Fund withdrew in 2018 from Japanese concept shop “Isetan The Japan Store” as established in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumper two years earlier. It’s a joint venture with Japanese department store group Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd.

Cool Fund Japan was blamed the failure on an overly optimistic business forecast, as the store had attracted few shoppers. The case also spread criticisms of the fund’s investment practices.

Naoki Kitagawa, who became the organization’s President and CEO in 2018, is leading an effort to find talent for collaborations with platform providers such as Go-Jek. Investments across 12 such providers to date, including Go-Jek, total 33 billion yen ($304 million).