Dai Wei (left), CEO of ofo Inc, Ma Zhongchao, head of the China Bicycle Association, and Wang Zhaoyang, president of Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Co Ltd, try new shared bikes in Shanghai on Saturday. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
One of the top two Chinese bike sharing apps, ofo, has secured more than 700 million US dollars in the latest round of funding, the biggest ever known in the industry, to become a top valuated firm.
It occurred amid fierce competition facing a dozen of domestic competitors, especially the arch-rival Mobike, as well as the company's effort to push its bikes into global market. The investment mainly come from Alibaba Group, Hony Capital and Citic Private Equity, as well as the company's earlier investors, car hailing platform Didi Chuxing, and DST Global.
"Ofo revolutionized the way people cover short-distance trips and successfully inculcated the idea of a low-carbon lifestyle. That's why we trust it and would like to be engaged in further cooperation for a broader future," said vice chairman of the board of Alibaba, the company which led the funding.
China's blooming bike-sharing companies are raising funds at an amazing pace, thanks to growing investor interest in the area beyond an automobile market dominated by Didi. Last month, Mobike has just raised then-largest financing amounting to 600 million US dollars. That record was quickly broken.
The ofo said that it has already dispatched 6.5 million bikes in more than 150 cities, used 25 million times per day globally. The three-year-old company plans to expand to 20 millions bikes in 20 countries by the end of the year.
Starting as a student project on the grounds of Beijing's prestigious Peking University, ofo is the first company pushing for no-docking rental-bike service in China. For as little as a few cents, users can unlock bikes with a scan using their smart phones, then dump the vehicles at their destination. However the convenience comes with troubles. Mounting complaints are being made about problems such as vandalism, thefts and parking in improper places, which prompted calls for stricter regulations.