Apple CEO visits Chinese startups Ofo and Keep

2 min read

In his recent visit to China’s capital, Apple CEO Tim Cook went to bike-rental company ofo’s offices on Tuesday, fueling speculation about whether the American technology giant may invest in the Chinese bike-rental startup, our sister site TechNode Chinese is reporting (in Chinese).

Accompanied by ofo CEO Dai Wei, Cook visited the startup’s headquarters in Beijing yesterday微信图片_20170322081857 morning and tried out a yellow two-wheeler.

Up to this point, Apple has not shown any direct interest in ofo. However, Apple is a major investor in Didi Chuxing (US$ 1 billion in Didi in May 2016) and Didi has invested heavily in ofo starting from their B+ round in Septemeber last year worth US$ tens of millions. The ride-hailing giant also participated in ofo’s US$ 450 million Series D financing this March, led by Moscow-headquartered DST.

With bike-rental services going viral in major Chinese cities in less than one year, a fledgling bike-rental market like China may be of great interest to Apple, which has been proactive in seeking new growth engines as iPhone sales are flagging.

Ofo has registered 20 million users with the number of its yellow fleet bikes topping 1 million since June 2015. The bike-sharing startup has leapt to the top spot in the sector with a 51.2 percent share, followed by its arch-rival Mobike with a 40.1 percent share, according to data released in February by third-party research firm BigData-Research (in Chinese).

The scramble for market supremacy between ofo and Mobike has expanded outside their home turf. While ofo has expanded its footprint in Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K., Mobike announced yesterday the launch of its bike-sharing service in Singapore, marking its first foray into foreign markets.

As one of the largest technology firms in the world, how to maintain sustained growth is now the biggest problem Apple is facing, and the formation of a sound app eco-chain has become a top priority.

Mobile fitness app Keep has also attracted Cook’s attention. He paid a visit to the startup’s Beijing office the same day, illustrating the attention Apple is giving to iOS app development (in Chinese).微信图片_20170322082105

The mobile fitness app was on the 2015 Best of App Store list and is preinstalled on Apple devices in all Apple franchise stores.

Keep has snapped up five funding rounds worth US$47 million since it went online in February 2015 (in Chinese).