Today, location the lovely 1000 m2 Multiply office building in Gandaria. The coffee was brown, the beer cold and boss Daniel himself had been busy in the kitchen cooking some mind-blowing delicious tapas.
In the meanwhile almost everyone that means anything in e-commerce Indonesia was present, from Tokopedia to Tokobagus, from Kemana to Kaskus. Having said that, some of the companies send in their b-team, saving the founders and CEO’s from the traffic hell.
In the meanwhile I hear someone asking the Plasa representative “Plasa? Does that still exist?” Which was somewhat illustrative for the meeting and the setting. A room filled with competitors not really eager to share too much but on the other hand don’t want to be left out of whatever is about to happen. The poor representative from Plasa than had to explain there is still live after Shinta, but it was clear she had a hard time believing that herself.
So finally Daniel from Multiply opened the meeting explaining that it’s time to see whether e-commercing Indonesia can be joined in one association. An association that would be the voice of the industry towards government, banks and new players. Discussing and regulating security and privacy issues and payment systems. So far only few of the bigger companies like Kaskus and Tokobagus had access to talks with the government about upcoming regulations regarding Internet in general and e-commerce specifically. Neither Kaskus, Tokobagus or the government can be blamed for that, stuff has to be arranged.
But now all e-commerce players want to have a vote and I can understand that. Daniel and Andy shared their experiences with similar association in the music and telecom industry which all made sense. However, I don’t share the opinion that associations create or grow markets , they can only facilitate in creating the right climate for the entrepreneurs to grow the market.
Then there was some wrangling about the terrace kind of setup of the meeting which should be replaced by King Arthur’s round table. So noted and included in the minutes. This followed by an ambitious CEO wanting to fill the time with a 15.667.682 slide counting presentation. Apparently no one told him how deeply my hate for powerpoint presentations is. After 10 minutes being stuck at slide 1 and repeatedly having to hear that the market is so tiny, so small, I was forced to inform him about that myself. Blunt? Rude? Sure! But since the general reaction on my question if anyone disagreed was mostly a grateful silence I guess they were sharing my feelings. Besides, it’s a little bit early for start campaigning for the chairman position. Back to business.
Right now would be the time where I would describe the complex and deep discussions that occurred about the challenges, the business, the market and the government. The kind of thing you would expect from CEO and MD’s. The stuff that makes you understand why CEO’s are CEO’s, because they know shit. They know what they want and know how to deal with things like this. But I have to disappoint you on this, there was no discussion or concrete talks on any deep stuff, neither on how to proceed from here. Just everybody agreeing with the initiative as usual and enjoying the great tapas.
Personally I attended because I agree with Daniel that there should be some kind of association that represents the e-commerce industry. Next, I appreciate Multiply’s initiative, efforts and hospitality. (Thanks for that guys! Daniel, don’t forget to send me the tapas recipes). But in the end the result was nothing more than reconfirming the intentions that got us all together in this office in the first place. This is instead of moving forward. Besides the whole setup I’m also afraid there will be political issues, lots of it. Uniting competitors, who basically are at war with each other on a daily basis is hard, especially when there’s no common enemy or a common issue to resolve.
At the risk of being called non-democratic, this is what I think should be done. Getting things done in a setup with as many companies as possible is as democratic as it is a mirage. Instead I would say form a small group of CEO’s of the leading e-commerce companies, maximum 4-5. This small group would have to discuss and agree on the basics of the association, how to set it up and how the organization would work. Next send the proposal to all e-commerce companies interested in participating followed by a meeting. Having something concrete gives you something concrete to talk about. Talks based on a draft proposal enable you to quickly direct the discussions towards addressing any issues of disagreement and get results fast. Moving the discussion in this stage to a Google group is democratic, hip and really web 3.0 but I’m afraid it will mostly be a waste of time.
Credits: the featured image is made by Coloroyd