Jokowi Asks Followers to Stop Campaign to Uninstall Unicorn App

(Bloomberg) -- President Joko Widodo urged his supporters to end a social-media campaign that called on Indonesians to uninstall an app run by a popular online shopping site, after the company’s founder criticized the government’s research and development budget.

Jokowi, as the president is known, on Saturday met with’s chief executive officer and founder, Achmad Zaky, to tell him all was forgiven, according a statement from the president’s office. In the statement, Jokowi called on citizens to encourage young entrepreneurs, not boycott them.

Zaky drew the ire of Jokowi’s supporters for a Twitter post that said the government was spending too little on R&D, and suggested that a new president might do a better job of beefing up the budget. With Jokowi seeking re-election this April, the post was seen as an expression of Zaky’s support for the president’s challenger, Prabowo Subianto, a former general who lost to Jokowi in the last election, according to the Jakarta Post.

Zaky deleted the controversial Twitter comments and apologized, but fans of the president made #UninstalBukalapak a trending topic on Twitter and other social media platforms, according to the Jakarta Post.

Bukalapak, which counts Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte and China’s Ant Financial among its investors, has become popular with shoppers seeking bargains and used items in quantities not often found on other e-commerce platforms. A year ago, Zaky said the company had been valued by investors at more than $1 billion, making the startup what’s known as a unicorn.

Jokowi said in the statement that Indonesia’s annual R&D of budget of 26 trillion rupiah ($1.8 billion) was sufficient, but that he was also committed to raising it and is weighing tax incentives to encourage research. There’s a need to foster startups such as PT Go-Jek, PT Traveloka, PT Tokopedia and Bukalapak, as they help support economy, the president said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.