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Daily Digest | A tale from the frontier

Written by The Uptake Published on   2 mins read

Tech companies that operate beyond metropolises maintain a different mindset.

Hi. It’s Brady again.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in a major city. Your internet connection, by phone or cable, is likely steady and strong. New apps can be downloaded with a few taps. New services are available to you every day. Convenience is matter-of-fact. Everything fits in your pocket.

Much of this accessibility is subsidized. So many tech companies run in the red to imbue habits in us, to glue their names to our behaviors, and that means they’ll have to raise prices sooner or later, and free services may no longer be free—but that’s a story for another day.

What my colleague Khamila dug into yesterday is how a consumer-facing company that is big, but not the biggest, must acclimate and reorient itself when its leading competitors are far ahead. She zoomed in on Indonesian e-commerce company Bukalapak.

With Tokopedia and Shopee eclipsing everyone else in visitor traffic, Bukalapak set its sights on smaller cities and rural areas, where its Mitra program takes micro-retailers online. That’s not to say it’s a blue ocean for Bukalapak; there is nothing unique about its offerings. Gojek and Tokopedia both have similar programs, giving GoTo a sizable footprint in this arena.

Ahead of its listing on the IDX meant to take place by the end of July, Bukalapak’s path to profitability remains unclear. Will it cultivate an impregnable presence outside of Indonesia’s major cities if the company moves aggressively and quickly? It might just have to.

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