The dust kicked up by ride sharing has settled, but the air is again charged with electricity. This time, it’s bike sharing, and companies are losing no time stocking up on ammo.
The latest news is that Ofo, a dockless bike sharing company which started on campus, has completed a C round totaling 130 million USD. This number includes the earlier “tens of millions of USD” investment from Didi and additional funds from major league investors like the Coatue, the U.S. hedge fund, Xiaomi and its affiliate fund Shunwei Capital (for cooperation think IOT, Xiaomi’s existent folding bike), and Citic PE fund.
Ofo, which until now has been mostly operating on campus, is now carefully treading waters outside university gates. The company’s founder Dai Wei has revealed that trial runs in Shanghai will begin today, and starting tomorrow, the yellow bikes will temporarily be available in Beijing’s Zhongguancun and Shangdi. These areas to some extent resemble the safe haven of campus, with large populations of white-collars and sprawling office parks.
Its recent round comes after raising more than 20 million USD from its B round in June this year.
Brace yourself, for legions of shared bikes coming your way. Two days earlier, yet another dockless bike sharing project Xiaoming Bikes landed an A round of 100 million RMB from management of Cronus Bikes, a company that makes cycling gear. This was a short 11 days after angel round investors bet more than 10 million RMB on the company. Though we haven’t seen any of these bikes yet, the founder Jin Chaohui claims that it will aiming straight for the bustling hearts of major cities, where the future for ride sharing has just gone from bad to worse.
Mobike is also flexing its muscles. It’s had a head start, and has tacitly confirmed a rumored C round of 100 million USD, led by Sequoia Capital and Hillhouse Capital. Its previous round of 10 million USD was completed less than two months earlier.
The patrons of Ofo and Mobike had gone so far as to wager on the future of their prodigies. In a peppily worded memories post, Zhu Xiaohu of GSR Ventures–early backer of Ofo and Didi–asserted that, like the chauffeur and car-pooling business which both crowned a winner (Didi) in less than 90 days, the bike sharing war would also end in less than three months, with Ofo the victor. Not long afterwards, PandaVC, a B round investor of Mobike, came back half-jokingly with a conditional bet: If Ofo trumps Mobike in 90 days, someone from Panda would ride around Beijing’s CBD naked on one of Ofo’s bikes as a sign of defeat.
The chips are stacked, the bets are on. The question is, is another transportation war really what we need? Subsidized rides were great while they lasted, but how will these companies make pedaling bikes against the Siberian wind more appealing?