As bike rentals cool, ofo chooses to stand alone

China’s bike rental industry has experienced a roller coaster over the past 3 years. At its height, there were nearly 80 bike rental startups in the market, brightening the streets with a rainbow of bikes.

But in the fast-paced tech world, trends come and go quickly. Within a year, over 20 bike startups failed, including once-big names in the field, such as Bluegogo,Coolqi, and Xiaoming. A cooling of the availability of capital, intense competition, uncertain profit models, a saturating market, and tightening regulation all contributed to swift market consolidation.

While the smaller companies were wiped out, prominent players such as Mobike and ofo came to dominate the streets and mindshare. The two bike rental giants together account for 90 percent of the market, according to research firm Cheetah Global Think Tank. For Mobike and ofo, however, this is just the beginning of another battle, only this time they are not only fighting their bike rental peers, but also with investors who once had their backs.

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