‘Uber for bikes’, next big internet craze
22 October, 2016, 12:00 am
CHINA’S tech industry giants are sloughing hundreds of millions of dollars into what they’re betting will be the country’s next big internet craze — “Uber for bikes”.
A symbol of China’s cities long before a boom in cars, snarling traffic and smog, the humble bicycle is making a comeback.
Start-ups equipped with smartphone apps, GPS and scannable codes are selling cheap bike-sharing to city-dwellers as the way to beat jams on China’s most clogged streets.
The rush to invest in car ride-hailing apps in China peaked with Didi Chuxing’s acquisition of Uber’s China arm in August, creating a $US35 billion ($F72b) giant.
Now Shanghai’s MoBike and Beijing-based ofo — both use customised Anglicised branding — have raised big money in the past month alone from bullish investors on the hunt for China’s next tech “unicorn”.
MoBike, backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings among others, closed a $US100 million ($F200m) funding round this month, two sources told Reuters. Ofo raised $US130m ($F268m) this month from investors including Didi, smartphone maker Xiaomi and US hedge fund Coatue, which has backed Facebook and Google.