Alibaba leads $866 Mn round in Ofo, battle intensifies in bike-sharing space


It appears Jack Ma aims to live his dream of a green earth through bike-sharing platform Ofo and wants to leave no stone unturned, especially when it comes to providing monetary support, and making the idea successful. Or he seems to be following the old model of rivalry played between Alibaba and Tencent.

In the highest funding record in the bike-sharing industry, Ofo received an investment of $866 million led by Alibaba Group. The other investors which participated in the round include Haofeng Group, Tianhe Capital, Ant Financial and Junli Capital.  

Within a year, this is the second round of funding led by Alibaba in Ofo. In July last year, it led a funding round of $700 million in the bike-sharing platform. Prior to the round, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s finance-focused affiliate, invested in the company in April last year.

“As the global leader in the bike-sharing sector, we have been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development,” said Dai Wei, Founder and CEO, Ofo in a press statement.

The new investment will give a shot in the arm of Ofo which has been expanding operations at an exceptional pace. It has operations in over 250 cities across 21 countries and claims to have over 200 million global users.

The Beijing-based bicycle sharing company is also active in India. It launched its service in November last year in three cities such as Chennai, Indore, and Ahmedabad.

Besides, Ofo has a larger plan in the country — to build the business as well the entire infrastructure around the cycle industry.

Early this year, it partnered with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to support the Pune Cycle Plan.

The cycle plan aims to create the necessary infrastructure for proper cycle tracks, a city-wide cycle network, seamless public sharing bicycle schemes and development of cycle promotion activities.

Global bicycle sharing service Ofo is reportedly partnering with digital payment major Paytm to bolster its operations in India. The dockless bike service soon will be available on Paytm app.

Ofo vs Mobike vs Didi

The market of bike-sharing platforms is on fire in China. Investors are pumping-in hundreds of millions dollars in the segment.

Besides ofo, Mobike is another player which has raised over nearly $1 billion from various investors. However, Tencent is the lead investor in Mobike. In June last year, it led a round of $600 million in the platform. The other investors which participated in the round include Sequoia, TPG, and Hillhouse Capital, with new investors BOCOM International, ICBC International, and asset management firm Farallon Capital.  

Launched in 2015, Mobike claims to have tens of millions of users in China alone, where it operates in more than 160 cities. In 2017, the company began operating outside of China, in countries such as Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, and the U.S.

The ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing in January made a significant announcement in which it said that it is planning to launch its own bike-sharing platform. The platform will also integrate Ofo and Bluegogo for now. It will integrate other potential partners in future. Didi is also an investor in Ofo.

Didi is also planning to out its own bike-sharing service. It appears that the move by the ride-hailing company is to combat Mobike and Ofo market which have stolen a portion of Didi’s short distance rides by offering a simpler option than waiting for a driver.

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