Ofo on verge of bankruptcy

Business & Technology
Credit: In this Thursday, March 16, 2017 photo, a man the bike-sharing application on his smartphone to unlock the bicycle from bike-sharing company Ofo parked on the sidewalk in Beijing, China. As many as 2.2 million of these two-wheelers have been deployed, which are available for rent for as little as U.S. 7 cents for half an hour, in the latest symbol of heavy spending in China's internet sector where startups are in a race to attract more users to their services. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Ofo, one of two companies that came out on top of the bike-sharing gold rush of 2017, is now on the verge of bankruptcy, the Financial Times reports (paywall):

  • “I’ve thought countless times…of even dissolving the company and applying for bankruptcy…in order to keep the company running we have to turn every renminbi [Chinese yuan] into three,” the company founder, Dài Wēi 戴威, wrote in a letter to employees.
  • “More than 10 million users…have requested deposit refunds, with the company possibly owing in excess of RMB 1 billion ($145 million) to its riders,” TechNode says. That’s twice as many people as the Ofo app showed in a virtual line for refunds yesterday, Manya Koetse tweeted.
  • Yesterday, “more than 100 people lined up outside ofo’s office. They were instructed to leave their personal information, including banking details, and promised refunds within three days.”
  • For more, read “How Ofo spun out of control: An ex-employee’s account” on Tech in Asia, or an essay (in Chinese) titled “The debacle of bike sharing: The craziest mistake in the history of Chinese entrepreneurship,” recommended in Jiayun Feng’s Chinese Corner earlier this month.