Leading Chinese bike-sharing startup ofo announced Thursday that it has raised over 700 million U.S. dollars in its latest round of funding, the largest so far for the rapidly growing industry.
Major investors include Alibaba, Hony Capital, CITIC Private Equity Funds Management, Didi Chuxing, and DST Investment Management, Beijing-based ofo said in a statement.
The company's founder and CEO, Dai Wei, said ofo will improve its customer experience and accelerate expansion both in China and abroad to make ofo a worldwide brand.
Founded in 2015, ofo shot to success with its innovative business model providing non-docking public bikes. Users can find a bike parked in the street, unlock it using a code via their mobile phone, and park it anywhere after use.
The company said it now has 6.5 million shared bikes in 150 cities across five countries and regions, handling an average 25 million rides a day. It aims to expand that to 20 million bikes in 200 cities across 20 countries and regions by the end of 2017.
China's bike sharing market has become a red-hot investment opportunity.
Within around two years, more than 20 million shared bikes have appeared on streets across the country, operated by over 40 companies.
But small players are being pushed out and the competition has narrowed to ofo and its rival, Shanghai-based Mobike, backed by Tencent Holdings.
As of the first quarter of 2017, Mobike accounted for 40.7 percent of the Chinese bike-sharing market while ofo held about 51.9 percent, according to an industry report.
Both companies are aggressively expanding overseas and researching the use of Internet-of-Things for future mobility services.
In June, Mobike said it had raised more than 600 million U.S. dollars to finance overseas expansion.
Britain, Singapore, and the United States are among the markets Chinese bike-sharing firms have already entered.