As SoftBank bails, Indonesia’s smart city project is losing traction

March 28, 2022, 3:51 PM UTC

The case for a new, smart capital in Indonesia was a compelling one.

The country’s existing capital, Jakarta, has become overcrowded and polluted. A notable chunk of it is expected to be underwater by the year 2050. Moving resources East to Borneo island could ignite growth in other regions of the country. Starting afresh, the government could plan for a city powered by solar and wind energy with a modern public transit system.

The Indonesian government passed a law earlier this year to move its capital to what it is calling “Nusantara.” Two years ago, Indonesian officials had lined up Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on a panel to oversee the city’s construction. The country also announced that SoftBank had offered to invest $30 to $40 billion in the project. 

But the plans no longer seem as enticing as they once did, writes Simon Willis for Fortune in a feature published this weekend. SoftBank opted to pull out of funding the project earlier this month, without giving a reason (SoftBank says it continues to invest in the region). Environmental groups have criticized the project on everything from how it might threaten Borneo island’s wildlife, which include orangutans and leopards, to how it will initially be powered by coal and gas. Around 20,000 people from 21 indigenous tribes are at risk of being displaced, and critics warn that oligarchs may be using the project for personal gain.

The idea of “smart cities” has picked up plenty of momentum in recent years as innovators seek to use data to streamline operations and capitalize on energy efficiencies. South Korea is working on a ground-up smart village that uses solar and hydropower for sewage treatment, water treatment and electricity. Saudi Arabia has for years now been planning the $500 billion project of Neom, a city that would be powered by artificial intelligence and rely on extraordinary (and potentially concerning) amounts of data collection.

If Indonesia has its way, its new capital will be developed over a series of stages and completed by 2045. But, without SoftBank in the mix, it looks as if the country still needs to come up with another source of capital for the approximately $30 billion it’s projecting it will need to make it happen. 

De-valued… Last week, Instacart cut its valuation by nearly 40%, to $24 billion down from $39 billion. It was an internal company decision (Instacart says it doesn’t need to raise more capital) to better position share pricing with its public competitors ahead of an expected IPO, and the latest indicator on how volatility in the public markets is bleeding into the private sector. Internal communication reviewed by the Wall Street Journal showcased that the new valuation is expected to give new and existing employees more share units, which would be a good thing should share prices rebound. “If you’ve been following the public markets, this is probably not too surprising. But it doesn’t make it any less painful,” CEO Fidji Simo told employees in a recorded staff meeting. 

The numbers are in… Alternative asset manager and private equity firm TPG reported its first earnings since going public earlier this year and showcasing just how good a year 2021 was for the private markets. TPG reported $4.7 billion in net income for 2021, up from $1.4 billion the year prior. This year should be tougher, with interest rates on the rise and rocky public markets clogging the IPO pipeline, but TPG says that won’t be a bad thing for the company. “The IPO and SPAC markets are essentially shut down right now, particularly across the growth investing landscape, and we think it creates more opportunity for us because they are competitors to private equity as companies look for sources of capital,” CEO Jon Winkelried told Reuters.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


- Zongmu Technology, a Shanghai-based autonomous driving system startup, raised $157 million in Series E funding. Dongyang State-Owned Assets Investment and Zhejiang Caitong Capital Investment led the round and were joined by investors including Sunic Capital, Zuoyu Capital, and a fund backed by Cosco Shipping Development and China Cinda Asset Management.

-, a Redwood City, Calif.-based automation and control provider for cloud operations, raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners and was joined by Dawn Capital

- Pixxel, a Bangalore, India and Palo Alto, Calif.-based hyperspectral satellite developer, raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Radical Ventures and was joined by investors including co-founder of Relativity Space Jordan Noone, Seraphim Space Investment Trust, Lightspeed Partners, Blume Ventures, and Sparta LLC

- Smarter Sorting, an Austin, Boulder, and Los Angeles, Calif.-based consumer goods data and sustainability company, raised $25 million in funding led by G2 Venture Partners

- Bigblue, a Paris-based order fulfillment platform for e-commerce logistics, raised $15 million in Series A funding co-led by Runa Capital and LPV and was joined by Samaipata.

- Pantastic, a San Francisco-based e-commerce platform for independent brands, raised $10 million in funding led by B Capital Group and was joined by Commerce Ventures

- Native Pet, a St. Louis, Mo.-based organic pet food and nutrition company for dogs, raised $6 million in Series A funding led by CAVU Venture Partners and was joined by investors including  Mars’ Companion Fund and Selva Ventures.

- SucceedSmart, a Los Altos, Calif.-based career platform and peer network, raised $6 million in funding led by Storm Ventures and was joined by other investors.

- Hylo, a London-based athletic footwear startup, raised £2.5 million ($2.74 million) in Series A funding led by Eka Ventures and was joined by Redrice Ventures and angel investors including Leeds United and England footballer Patrick Bamford.


- Carlyle Group and PAI Partners agreed to acquire Theramex, a London-based women’s health business, from CVC Capital Partners for approximately $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg. 

- EIG and Fluxys acquired a majority stake in GNL Quintero, a Quintero, Chile-based liquified natural gas regasification terminal, from Enagas Chile and affiliates of OMERS Infrastructure. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- Summit Partners acquired a minority stake in 48forty Solutions, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based recycled wood pallets and pallet management services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- HP agreed to acquire Poly, a San Jose and Santa Cruz, Calif.-based audio and video devices maker, for $1.7 billion. 

- Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation agreed to acquire RE2, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based autonomous mobile robotic systems developer for the aviation, construction, defense, energy, and medical industries. A deal is expected to be valued at $100 million. 

- Victoria’s Secret acquired a minority stake in Frankies Bikinis, a Venice, Calif.-based beachwear and lifestyle brand. Financial terms were not disclosed. 


- Citiustech, a Princeton, N.J.-based healthcare technology firm, confidentially filed for an IPO, according to Bloomberg. A deal could value the firm at more than $2 billion. Baring Private Equity Asia backs the company.


- GHK Capital Partners, a Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm, raised $410 million for a fund focused on North American middle-market industrial companies. 

- Glilot Capital Partners, a Herzliya Pituach, Israel-based venture capital firm, raised $220 million for a fourth fund focused on cybersecurity, enterprise software, and developer tool companies.

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