01 | Launching Growjek - the Tech, Digital, Startup & VC Newsletter for ASEAN via Indonesia

Friday October 8

Welcome to the very first Growjek newsletter! Thanks for signing up you few, you happy few.

I’m intending this to be an easily digestible 10-ish links every other week (depends whether anything exciting has happened!), touching on tech, digital, startups, VC, internet, fintech, gaming, e-commerce and lots of other stuff related to the ‘new economy’.

Growjek’s biggest focus is Indonesia, but there’ll be detailed coverage of ASEAN, and I’m also particularly excited about Vietnam and Myanmar, so these markets will DEFINITELY feature.

My Growjek thesis is this:

  1. ASEAN is the biggest and most exciting multi-decade growth and investment opportunity in the world right now — driven by ‘new economy’ tech

  2. Indonesia is — by size alone — the natural centre of gravity for ASEAN (sorry Singapore, but you still have a crucial role to play as THE open-source regional aggregator platform!)

  3. ‘New economy’ investment and innovation flows first into ASEAN, and by extension Indonesia, but increasingly in the years (and decades) ahead out of Indonesia and across ASEAN

So, this is what I’m interested in, and I really want to get under the skin of the ASEAN ecosystem — if I’m right then super-app Gojek will be the first in a long line of super-unicorns from Indonesia.

If you have content, or a story, that you think is a good fit for the newsletter, just let me know — more than happy to help, as I know I have many friends with exciting tech businesses, startups, investment journeys and things to say. You can email me on growjek@substack.com.

Please bear with me as I find my feet over the first few newsletters. I will get into the groove by 2021 at the latest I promise you.

Finally, a big shout out to Jerry @ Collab Asia (a super cool content, influencer and gaming business) for being my very first subscriber. Cheers dude, let’s get that catch up in soon on me!

Until next time, Tom


Riots broke out yesterday in Jakarta over new labour and investment laws. The government hopes the measures will drive foreign investment. Labour leaders say workers’ protections will be slashed. link

Tesla is reportedly in talks with the Indonesian government to build a new venture to secure some of the country’s nickel supply. (They’re finally hiring in Singapore too). link

Fashionably aligning itself with the global #bigtech #crackdown (or cynically putting in a jab to the kidneys from behind while they’re distracted elsewhere), Indonesia has added Twitter and Zoom to a list of internet-based businesses — already including Google and Facebook — that must pay a 10% tax on sales in the market. It’s a good thing. link

Covid-19 and augmented reality: is Indonesia poised for a boom? link

Gaming and esports platform Mobile Premier League Indonesia has extended its partnership with digital media agency M&C Saatchi Performance for another year. 3 million users is pretty impressive. link

Indonesia saw a massive 40% increase in app usage in Q3, the largest increase of any market globally. link

Yummy Corporation — which claims to be the largest cloud kitchen management company in Indonesia — has raised $12 million in Series B funding, led by SoftBank Ventures. link

Indonesia has been ranked 56th out of 63 countries in terms of digital competitiveness. Let’s be honest, this is not good for Growjek theorists. link

The Indonesian Central Bank has issued 2 new e-money licenses bringing the total number of licensed e-money providers to 51. Solid overview of all the official Indonesian fintech players. link

Fintech bookkeeping startup BukuWarung has raised an undisclosed amount of funding and graduated from Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator. Mysterious. link


CGS-CIMB lifts the ‘best performing stock globally of 2020’, Sea's target price based on Garena Free Fire gaming growth and Shopee (the only e-commerce platform with ads you just have to watch on repeat) optimism. link

Blue-chip veteran Koh Boon Hwee (ex-chairman DBS Group Holdings and Singapore Telecommunications) is teaming up with four fellow investors to raise $100 million for a new venture firm Altara Ventures targeting Southeast Asia. link

Billionaires Peter Thiel and Richard Li have created a $575 million SPAC targeting “new economy” (their quote) technology, financial services and media companies in Southeast Asia. Well, it’s only a short hop from New Zealand. link

Cash is king, and this is especially true in Myanmar. With an estimated 74% of the population unbanked, fintech apps such as e-wallets are growing fast. link

Can electric vehicles break Vietnam, where motorcycles are the transportation mode of choice? Well, it would help a lot with the noise. link

[Podcast] More on e-wallet battles, this time in Vietnam. At the moment, several fintech operators are battling to win the hearts and wallets of Vietnam. Who will come out on top? link