Just weeks after Gojek announced the merger with Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest e-commerce platform, the ridesharing unicorn surprises us again. The surprise comes from the nature of the deal, as well as from the partner sitting across the table.

What is the problem?

Gojek announced an exchange of all shares between its Thai operations for a 4.76% stake in Air Asia’s “superapp” business. The Asian “superapp” activity refers to the complete experience of a single application as delivered for example by Grab: on the same application, the consumer can book transport, order food or other deliveries, save money. , pay and even insure. “Superapps” present themselves as lifestyle companions.

Who is Air Asia?

Air Asia is Asia’s largest low-cost carrier, created in 1993. The company is divided into local subsidiaries, such as Thai Air Asia. The company not only focuses on air travel, but has developed a wide range of non-air products and services, including food, non-food deliveries, payments and e-commerce. The range of non-air services, however, did not include a carpooling option, which is now available in Thailand.

Reasoning

Gojek’s Kevin Aluwi explained that the exchange was a way for Gojek to continue investing in Vietnam and Singapore, the former being a country with high potential while Singapore is the center of gravity of competitor Grab’s business. There could be some doubt, however, that this is the only justification; Air Asia Digital (the name of the non-airline business) has already expressed its intention to go head-to-head with Grab and Gojek in Singapore, bringing a third party into a very competitive and mature market. At the same time, Air Asia and Gojek did not rule out new collaborations in other Southeast Asian countries.

So, will the 3 parties take the risk of a loose-loose-loose scenario or are other strategies being developed? Gojek’s merger with e-commerce giant Tokopedia illustrates its intention to bolster its ambitions to become a superapp (which Grab has achieved organically) and a regional collaboration with Air Asia can potentially give Gojek the leverage to differentiate itself from Grab.

What does this mean for the APAC fleet manager?

The APAC mobility ecosystem is growing at a rate unmatched by any other region. The concept of aggregation of services has become the industry standard, and the acceptance that transport is just a commodity that one acquires on the move has become evident.

Focusing on the default car in APAC is therefore not the way to go, not only because of what is described above, but also because of the traffic pressure in Asian megacities and its effects on sustainability or well-being. Therefore, CSR imperatives as well as efficiency arguments point to the failure of superapps, rather than company cars.

Image Credit: Shutterstock



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