(Bloomberg) — Otto Toto Sugiri was already a multimillionaire after selling his company to Indonesia’s largest telecom operator. Then he spotted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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It was 2011, and web usage in the nation was booming. To ensure data security, the government was planning a law requiring online information to be stored in Indonesia rather than abroad. That meant a huge need for local data centers.
So Sugiri, along with six partners, founded PT DCI Indonesia, the company that’s become Indonesia’s leader in the field with more than 200 clients. Since its listing last year, DCI shares have shot up more than 10,000%.
Now Sugiri, 68, is not just a multimillionaire. He’s one of the world’s richest people with a fortune estimated at $2.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“I still love eating Gado Gado,” he said in an early March interview from DCI’s data center in Cibitung, near Jakarta, referring to the traditional dish often found at roadside stalls. “Being rich won’t change me.”
Sugiri owns 30% of DCI, while co-founders Han Arming Hanafia and Marina Budiman, who also serves as the company’s president commissioner, have stakes valued at $1 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively. Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim, whose empire spans food to telecom and real estate, is DCI’s fourth-biggest shareholder with an 11% stake.
Sugiri, who keeps his gray hair long and has a preference for black tops, began his career as an IT programmer in Germany after graduating from an elite university in Aachen, a city near the Belgium and Dutch borders known for its spas and curative hot springs. He moved back to Indonesia in the 1980s and did some programming for local companies before joining his family’s lender, PT Bank Bali — now called PT Bank Permata — where he helped set up its IT department.
After six years at the bank, Sugiri left to head PT Sigma Cipta Caraka, the software company that PT Telkom Indonesia took over in 2007, landing him a windfall. In 1994, he set up PT Indointernet, Indonesia’s first internet-service provider, of which he still owns 17%. In all, he’s founded more than 20 companies.
DCI has benefited from a digital transformation in Indonesia, whose population of 270 million is primarily young and web-savvy — the online economy reached $70 billion last year, up 49% from 2020, according to a report by Google, Temasek Holdings Pte and Bain & Co. With a 62% market share, DCI’s profit surged 43% last year and revenue rose to 871.2 billion rupiah ($60.7 million).
But the company’s success — it was the world’s best initial public offering in 2021 — led to controversy. The jump in the thinly traded shares prompted exchange halts and an investigation into stock manipulation. While the probe cleared DCI of wrongdoing, Sugiri and his co-founders pledged to not to part with their shares, switching their holdings to untradeable stock last August.
“We don’t want people to think we are trying to influence the market,” Sugiri said. “It is part of our commitment as founders.”
Sugiri said he’s open to selling more of his stakes — though for now not in the data center. He has investments in tech companies including e-commerce firm PT Tokoplas E-Commerce Indonesia, service provider PT Fortress Data Services and crypto marketplace PT Indodax Nasional Indonesia. Last year, he and his DCI co-founders offloaded 47% of their ownership in Indointernet at a valuation 42% higher than its IPO price.
“I don’t have the ambition to hold companies for my whole life,” Sugiri said. “Philosophically, the company is only a means for humans to create something useful and for the good of humans.”
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