Saturday, September 30, 2023

Unicorn What? Errr... Prabowo's Gaff Betrays Lack of Belief in Internet Economy

Asni Ovier
February 18, 2019 | 12:04 pm
President Joko Widodo and his challenger in April's election, Prabowo Subianto, drew questions for their presidential debate on Sunday (17/02). (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)
President Joko Widodo and his challenger in April's election, Prabowo Subianto, drew questions for their presidential debate on Sunday (17/02). (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jakarta. Even though the second presidential election debate on Sunday (17/02) was widely considered to be uneventful, one question from incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo did manage to stump his challenger Prabowo Subianto and force him to let slip another gaff that has already sent meme-hungry Indonesians into overdrive on social media. 

Jokowi had asked Prabowo what types of infrastructure he would provide to assist the country's "unicorns." The ex-general's face went blank for what seemed liked an eternity before he finally stumbled on his answer: "Oh, you mean those online thingies?"

This morning the hashtag #02GagapUnicorn ("Unicorn-Challenged Number 2 [Prabowo's registration number in the election]) was trending on Twitter, and social media is awash with My Little Pony-related memes making fun of the challenger's gaff. 

To his credit, Prabowo recovered his composure in the debate and went on to deliver an extended spiel warning Indonesians to be wary about getting too over-enthusiastic about e-commerce and the internet economy in general.

"It only accelerates the flow of money going overseas," Prabowo said.

Prabowo claimed that more money are flying off overseas than going back into the domestic economy at the moment.

"Around Rp 11,400 trillion [$810 billion] of Indonesian money are parked overseas. In our entire banking system, there's only Rp 5,485 trillion left," the former commander of the country’s special forces Kopassus said.

Prabowo also said that the the wealth gap in Indonesia is getting bigger, with less than one percent of the population controlling about half of the country’s wealth. But the Gerindra Party chairman, whose younger brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo is a famous billionaire, failed to back up the claim with any data.

Unicorn What? Errr... Prabowo's Gaff Betrays Lack of Belief in Internet Economy
Prabowo Subianto during the second round of the presidential election debate at Hotel Sultan in Central Jakarta on Sunday (17/02). (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

What Is a Unicorn?

According to Divestopedia, the term "unicorn," which used to refer to the mythical white horse with a long spiralling horn protruding from its forehead, is now also used to describe any tech startup that has reached $1 billion in market value—determined by the amount of public or private investment it has garnered.

The term was coined by Aileen Lee, the founder of Cowboy Ventures.

There are also the decacorn and the hectocorn, aka a startup that has hit $10 billion and $100 billion in market value respectively.

According to CB Insight, there are around 300 unicorns in the world, four of them from Indonesia.

They are ride-hailing startup Go-Jek—worth about $10 billion in market value, online marketplaces Tokopedia (about $7 billion) and Bukalapak (around $1 billion), and travel-booking platform Traveloka (around $1 billion).

Unicorns: Good or Evil?

Despite Prabowo’s claim, unicorns are actually bringing in more dollars from investors to Indonesia.

Go-Jek, Indonesia's most valuable unicorn and technically already a decacorn, reportedly finalized the first round of its fundraising efforts in January.

The tech transportation platform did not disclose the amount of fresh funds they were able to raise, but a CNBC report citing an industry source mentioned that Go-Jek raised just more than $1 billion with the latest funding round.

"Go-Jek's investors included tech giants Google and Tencent, as well as Chinese e-commerce player and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation," CNBC said in the article, dated Jan. 31.

Generally, money being put by foreign investors into these unicorns will go into businesses expansion, which should generate a multiplier economic impact, including more jobs domestically.

Ironically, Prabowo's running mate Sandiaga Uno is an ethusiastic supporter of the internet economy.

Sandi is one of the founders of Indonesia’s angel investor network Angel-eQ, founded in 2015 by experienced entrepreneurs and high-profile business professionals to provide assistance to tech companies in Southeast Asia.

Red-Faced Prabowo Supporters to Report Jokowi to Election Commission

Not everyone finds the unicorn and Twilight Sparkle memes mocking Prabowo funny:

Red-faced Prabowo supporters have reported Jokowi to the general election commission (KPU) for asking an "unethical" question.

"That was a ludicrous question. It was a trap. How many Indonesians, and there are millions of them, know about unicorn?" said Priyo Budi Santoso, the deputy chief of Prabowo's campaign team (BPN), on Sunday.

"Do you think Jokowi would be happy if Prabowo asked him to name the missiles in our military's arsenal?" Priyo said.

He said BPN has already sent a letter of protest to the KPU. "We think it [the question] is unethical. According to the rules of the debate, intentionally humiliating [a contender] is not allowed," Priyo said.

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