Chinese bike rental giant ofo has started selling advertisements on its bikes and apps (in Chinese) in an attempt to boost revenues amid increasing cash strain. The company will launch custom-designed bikes and the bike-body ads will appear in bike wheels, saddle and baskets for clients to reach the public with their messages.
Rumors of ofo’s failure to pay bike manufacturers have been around for a while. According to local media reports, insiders say that ofo has now paid only 20% of its RMB 3 billion debts ($470 million). In line with that, the bike rental company has been slowing down orders from bike makers during the past year. In an earlier sign of financial distress, ofo has mortgaged its own bicycles in order to receive two loans worth RMB1.77 billion (US$280 million) from Alibaba.
Ofo’s CEO Dai Wei has rebuffed an acquisition offer from Didi, South China Morning Post is reporting. The co-founder sought to rally the company by comparing their current status to Winston Churchill and wartime Britain as portrayed in the drama Darkest Hour, the report added. Facing a similar situation, ofo’s competitor has chosen another path. Mobike was sold to Meituan this April. Three weeks later, company co-founder and CEO Davis Wang, who was against the acquisition, resigned while co-founder Hu Weiwei takes his place.