Updated 23 Jan 2017: TechNode Chinese has reached out to Hellobike, Fosun Capital and Hellobike’s early-stage investor GGV, but neither has confirmed the news.
Chinese bike rental firm Hellobike (哈罗单车) is going to complete $1 billion worth of round from Ant Financial (an affiliate company of Alibaba Group), Fosun Capital, and some other existing investors, people familiar with the matter told Tencent Tech. New heavyweight investors also joined this round, the source added.
If true, this would add to another milestone round to the firm’s fundraising frenzy. In last December alone, Hellobike has announced two hefty financing deals in Series D1 and D2 rounds, securing a combined nearly RMB 3.3 billion from Ant Financial and Fosun Capital. Hellobike merged with a major competitor Yongon in October 2017, and Hellobike’s team is leading the new company.
As of January 20, the firm is operating in 160 cities, providing service to nearly 100 million users with a daily order of 10 million, according to the firm.
After all the fanfare in China’s bike rental industry over the past two years, various industry insiders have their own predictions on the future landscape of this sector. Some see Mobike and ofo sharing the market after beaten all the small competitors. But few expect the industry would enter a tripartite confrontation with the quick rise of another heavyweight player who has potential to gear up to face off against ofo and Mobike.
Different from the two bike rental giants, Hellobike has been focusing on the market in the second- and third-tier cities in China. But as the markets in large cities saturate, the competition among them could become fiercer with more cash burning battles.
It is also interesting to note the role Alibaba plays in the bike rental battle. The e-commerce giant is a lead investor in ofo. At the same time, its financial affiliate Ant Financial has invested in Hellobike. Despite the possible confrontations in sharing the same investor with an arch competitor, partnering with Alibaba is sure attractive. Both ofo and Hellobike were supported by Alipay for the scan-and-ride function. The deposit-free service supported by Sesame Credit also gained huge traction among rental bike riders.
Editor’s note: Chinese news is rife with rumor. TechNode does not vouch for the accuracy of other media reports.