Southeast Asian media is ablaze with discussion of the latest “decacorn” — $10 billion-valued startup — in the region after Go-Jek reportedly hit the milestone, but the Indonesia-based company is being prematurely anointed.
Two sources close to Go-Jek told TechCrunch that the ride-hailing firm’s current valuation is just shy of the $10 billion mark — I reported it as $9.5 billion in January at the first close of Go-Jek’s newest funding round — despite a report from Bloomberg which suggests that it is. In fact, if you dig into the details, it becomes clear that the Bloomberg story, and the dozens of media that have re-reported it, are wide of the mark.
The Bloomberg story cites New York-based intelligence and analytics firm CB Insights, which lists Go-Jek among the 19 decacorns that exist on the planet. There’s no source for the valuation and, since CB Insights aggregates data from media — whose job it is to develop sources and dig up private information — it appears that the $10 billion valuation can be traced to reports around that Go-Jek round earlier this year.
When reporting the first close of the round — which Go-Jek said was “over $1 billion” — some media, including Reuters, reported that the deal gave Go-Jek a valuation that sits between $9 billion-$10 billion. There’s been no further update on the round, sources told TechCrunch it remains ongoing, and so there’s no specific investment/update that would trigger a new valuation.
Instead, it seems that CB Insights has used the $10 billion upper ceiling cited by media as the valuation of Go-Jek. That’s interesting because CB Insights lists Grab, Go-Jek’s rival, at a valuation of $11 billion despite the fact that Grab’s valuation reached $14 billion via its recent $1.46 billion investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
Neither company officially announced a valuation, but figures for both were leaked to press via sources. It remains unclear, then, why CB Insights is using an unverified number for one but not the other.
Why is this piece of pedantry necessary on TechCrunch.com?
Good question. The fact that media can build a story around a piece of information that hasn’t been verified first is troubling. In this case, it is just a valuation number without many serious ramifications — Go-Jek is going to be valued at $10 billion one day… just not now — but that unsubstantiated information can become published as fact, shows that basic due diligence is missing and sometimes you shouldn’t believe everything that you read.
Even the Indonesian government rushed to congratulate Go-Jek on its decacorn status:
Sekarang giliran kami yang mengirimkan karangan bunga digital ini ke @gojekindonesia.
Selamat telah menjadi perusahaan anak bangsa pertama yang menyandang status decacorn!
Terima kasih telah banyak membantu kami. Oiya, kami tunggu promo-promo berikutnya ya 😁
Indonesia bangga! pic.twitter.com/fQl0XOiIoZ
— Badan Ekonomi Kreatif (@BekrafID) April 7, 2019
Go-Jek didn’t provide comment for the Bloomberg story, no doubt the company was delighted to have been christened Southeast Asia’s second $10 billion startup. I imagine a little press around that will help Go-Jek with its current fundraising and, ironically, in turn help it to become Southeast Asia’s second $10 billion startup.