DA MAN Hot List 2013: Andrew Darwis

MAN ON WIRE. Kaskus isn’t just “the largest Indonesian community,” as it proclaims on its homepage, it’s a veritable cultural phenomenon.

More than just an online forum for everyone about everything (members can create threads on any topic they can think of; from selling second-hand mobile phones to sharing paranormal videos), it is also responsible for adding new words to the Indonesian language such as “gan”—the Indonesian equivalent of “bro”—being the most popular. Not bad for a site that originally began as a mere school project. Back in 1999, founder Andrew Darwis came up with the idea of starting a forum for Indonesians living abroad. A student in Multimedia Studies & Web Design Program at the Art Institute of Seattle, Andrew only had $7 for starting capital. But that was all it took for Andrew to create Kaskus, a name which is a portmanteau of “kasak kusuk,” which means gossiping in English.

Fast forward to 2012. Andrew is now considered Indonesia’s answer to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. His site is home to well over 4 million members who have posted over 500 million messages to the site. A huge infusion of capital from Djarum Group venture Global Digital Prima (GDP) last year helped the company expand even more, including a relocation to a swanky new office complete with video game rooms and putting greens.But there is some serious work afoot at Kaskus HQ. Under DartaMediaIndonesia, the company behind Kaskus, Andrew and his team have created KasPay, a homegrown online payment system that could very well become the new standard for secure internet transactions in Indonesia. With the ranks of the country’s internet users swelling every year, that might prove to be an even stronger legacy for Darwis than helping to coin new words.