Me & My Money

Go into details before investing: Go-Jek exec

Go-Jek chief commercial officer Antoine de Carbonnel counts as fortunate those who have found their true passion in life. The 47-year-old is married to Indonesian Hana Makarim, 40, an owner of a cookie business, Dough Lab in Jakarta, which sells thro
Go-Jek chief commercial officer Antoine de Carbonnel counts as fortunate those who have found their true passion in life. The 47-year-old is married to Indonesian Hana Makarim, 40, an owner of a cookie business, Dough Lab in Jakarta, which sells through Go-Food and WhatsApp. They have two children, aged five and three.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Be granular, chief commercial officer says. Look at fundamentals, scalability and management team

A disciplined savings habit instilled in him by his parents has served business executive Antoine de Carbonnel well over the years.

Mr de Carbonnel, the chief commercial officer of Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek, told The Sunday Times: "Growing up, though we were comfortable, we never felt that way as my parents were quite frugal and believed that there were very few things worth spending money on.

"They impressed on us how critical it was to save as early as possible and to invest prudently."

His father was one of the first employees at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the early 1970s, while his mother is a housewife and concert pianist by training.

In 1979, when Mr de Carbonnel was eight, his parents and his two siblings left France for the United States when his father was sent to open BCG's Chicago office. They lived there and in Washington and returned to Paris when he was 15.

His dad's financial background has clearly had an impact, not just in terms of savings but in career choices as well.

Mr de Carbonnel, 47, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a degree in Ingenieur Commercial et de Gestion from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

FOLLOW THE MONEY... CAREFULLY

The most successful companies that I know change business plans as often as every quarter in order to stay nimble and flexible.

MR ANTOINE DE CARBONNEL

His career has spanned a variety of roles, including managing director at Kartuku, an Indonesian payments fintech firm, and stints at firms such as McKinsey & Company, Dean & Company, and Credit Suisse serving multinational clients in the US and Europe.

He joined Go-Jek in February 2016. Last month, the firm started a portal here for private-hire car drivers to pre-register to join its platform that is set to launch late this month.

Go-Jek is Indonesia's largest on-demand platform and it provides more than 20 different types of services ranging from transport to food delivery, groceries, massage, house cleaning and logistics.

It also runs Go-Pay, Indonesia's largest digital wallet, which offers financial products and marketing services as well.

Mr de Carbonnel is married to Indonesian Hana Makarim, 40, an owner of a cookie business, Dough Lab in Jakarta, which sells through Go-Food and WhatsApp. They have two children, aged five and three.

Q How did Go-Jek start?

A Mr Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive officer of Go-Jek, first created the company as a social enterprise in 2010 with no funding. The first round of funding came in the fall of 2014 to create a consumer app, which to date has been downloaded more than 105 million times.

Go-Jek now has more than 4,000 employees, who are known as Go-Troops.

Q What's the next stage of growth?

A Go-Jek is expanding to South-east Asia, specifically Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. On Sept 12, we officially launched Go-Viet, our first operations in Vietnam. We will announce the start of our operations in the other countries in due time.

Q What's in your portfolio?

A I invest in retirement funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stocks and bonds, multiple currencies and real estate. Outside of my shares in Go-Jek, it is roughly 30 per cent in holdings in private companies (I've invested in more than 40 private companies to date); 30 per cent in real estate; and 40 per cent in bonds, stocks and ETFs/mutual funds.

I bought some shares in Facebook two years ago that I sold in May at US$178 apiece. I also bought some Trading Desk shares at US$83 when I started learning more about the digital marketing space. I bought VIP Shop after Tencent invested in it, but that has been a lemon.

  • Worst and best bets

  • Q What has been your biggest investment mistake?

    A My worst investment was in 2009/2010 and it was in commodities. I did not have time to pay attention to the commodities meltdown. I would rather not say how large it was, but let's say that I would have been better off buying a third property instead.

    Fortunately, I have been a good private equity investor. Many of the classes that I took at Booth were strong building blocks for my success as a private investor.

    My tip is to always go back to the discounted cash flow valuation method and understand in detail how a company plans to make money.

    If you don't have time to manage your finances or investments, it definitely makes sense for someone professional to do that for you.

    Q And your best investment?

    A My best investment has been Go-Jek. I feel fortunate to be part of such a mission-driven company where social impact is not corporate social responsibility but a core component of our strategy.

For ETFs, I've invested in XLK (Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF) and IGV (iShares North American Tech-Software ETF). For dividend yield, I own shares like Unilever, Coca-Cola and Reckitt Benckiser, as well as utility stocks like Williams Partners.

Besides my home in Jakarta, my wife and I are building another property. We plan to move there once it's completed early next year. We are still considering whether to sell or rent out the first house after the move.

Q How did you get interested in investing?

A I got interested when I was doing my MBA (in 1999). The master finance classes I took at Booth taught me how to analyse companies and take a sharper look at things. The colleagues I met from equity research also shared insights and their perspectives with me. At that time, online trading platforms had just started and that was when my interest in investments truly began.

Q What else is in your financial plan?

A I have a fund that is mostly ETFs or low-risk mutual funds, as well as an education fund and life insurance for my children, should anything happen to me. I have been thinking lately about wills and trusts, but haven't had a chance to advance on those plans.

Q How are you planning for retirement?

A Retirement is also something that I have been thinking about as I get closer to 50 years old. It's been said before that when lying on their deathbeds, most people regret not spending enough quality time with their friends and family, not following their passions and not travelling enough to explore the world.

Bearing that in mind, in my case, I would like to have enough money to be able to have a comfortable lifestyle, and engage fully in non-profit work. I don't think I will ever fully retire if I can find passion projects to occupy my mind and time.

Q What does money mean to you?

A Money is a means and not a goal. For example, why does one spend money? If it is to impress someone, it is money badly spent but if it gives you and your loved ones joy, then it is worth it.

The fortunate ones are those who have found their true passion in life and have found a job fulfilling or living it. I wish I had been able to find a job in rugby (my passion)!

Q What's your advice to retail investors?

A My advice to aspiring investors is to always pay attention to the details. Be granular. Look at the fundamentals of the business, the scalability and the management team.

The most successful companies that I know change business plans as often as every quarter in order to stay nimble and flexible.

Q Home is now ...

A A comfortable three-bedroom house with a pool in South Jakarta that is luckily just a 10-minute drive from my office.

Q I drive ...

A Though we have a family car for my wife and kids' use, I personally don't drive as I mostly use Go-Car and Go-Ride (services offered under Go-Jek) to get around.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 11, 2018, with the headline 'Go into details before investing: Go-Jek exec'. Print Edition | Subscribe