In 1999, shortly after the fall of President Soeharto and the onset of a new era of democracy, reformasi and press freedom, Daniel recruited investors and a young, all-Indonesian staff of writers and photographers, and founded Djakarta! – The City Life Magazine’. It was a playful yet hard-hitting monthly publication that covered urban issues, political satire, events and lifestyle in Indonesia’s bustling capital city. Articles alternated between Indonesian and English language.

Djakarta! magazine quickly earned a cult following among the city’s young, educated middle class, and at its peak became the largest independently-run magazine in Indonesia. Its monthly columnists included leading Indonesian writers Ayu Utami, Seno Gumira Ajidarma and Wimar Witoelar, who later became the spokesman for Indonesia’s President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Under Daniel’s editorial leadership, the magazine became a platform for testing the limits of Indonesia’s new freedom of press and expression. Djakarta! was the first Indonesian magazine to devote a special issue to Chinese culture after a decades-long government ban on Chinese culture was removed; the first Indonesian magazine to include a gay events section; and the first to devote entire issues to addiction and to the city's wide diversity of faiths. The magazine attracted the wrath of Islamic hardliners for its racy covers and controversial content, but encountered no trouble from Indonesia's newly-democratic government. 

Daniel served as the magazine’s editor-in-chief and co-publisher until 2002, when he passed it back to the investors due to creative differences.