Alibaba-backed bike-sharing company Hellobike (哈罗) today announced the upgrade of its brand to Hello Chuxing (哈啰出行) in a move to extend its tentacles from bike-sharing pure play to more transportation services including e-scooter, bus, and potentially ride-sharing.
In a company-wide memo (in Chinese) sent out by its CEO Yang Lei, obtained by our parent company 36Kr and translated by KrASIA as below, Yang wrote that going forward with the name change, Hello Chuxing will step into general transportation’, expanding into other verticals fall under the transportation sector.
This could be a way Alibaba, the avid backer behind Hello Chuxing, is prepping the young company in becoming a Didi Chuxing challenger. Didi itself is the result of a merger between Didi Dache (backed by Tencent) and Kuaidi Dache (backed by Alibaba), which Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma and CEO Daniel Zhang referred to as an example of a misstep for Alibaba, according to Meituan CEO Wang Xing (link in Chinese) — one that they said “won’t ever happen again”.
It might also be the best time for Hello Chuxing to garner any market share in the ride-hailing industry that Didi had lost due to negative publicity after it was linked to two rape-and-murders in three months. We had earlier published Didi CEO Cheng Wei’s memo to all employees here.
The bike-sharing industry in China is a pie mainly shared by three companies — Hello Chuxing, Ofo, and Mobike, the former two backed by Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Financial, while the last is currently owned by Meituan with backing from Tencent. Ofo has also received capital from Didi Chuxing. According to Zeng Ming, the Chief Strategy Officer at Alibaba, Hellobike has overtaken Mobike and Ofo in terms of daily bookings; this reason alone makes the sky blue-coloured bike-sharing brand a lot more attractive to Alibaba than its yellow cousin Ofo.
This is not the first case Alibaba set up a roadblock for a competitor in an industry it deems important but lost control over a top player. Case in point. Meituan-Dianping versus Ele.me.
Tencent-backed Meituan is gearing up for its HK public float, which is set to happen on this Thursday to raise up to US$4 billion. In the meantime, Alibaba, together with its long-term ally SoftBank, created a new entity by merging Ele.me and Koubei and pledged $3 billion in funding with more to come, posing a material threat to Meituan in food delivery sector and raised concerns over the viability of Meituan’s business model amongst Hong Kong investors.
Once the backer behind Meituan, Alibaba and the world’s largest on-demand services startup grew apart and quickly turned to nurture Ele.me as a rival. Just like how it might raise up Hello Chuxing today to become another formidable competitor for Didi Chuxing. Both Meituan and Didi are now considered to side with Tencent.
The following is a full company-wide memo:
New travel, new journey, new mission.
Dear all Helloren (employees)
Time flies, we’re celebrating HelloBike’s second year anniversary today.
It is incredible to believe that this company started off as a dream of a few of us co-founders and that today, there are more than 3,000 brothers and sisters gathered here to work hard together. In the last two years, we have had to make many challenging decisions, but due to our belief, we did not give up. From being one of the latecomers in the bike-sharing scene, fighting in a competitive market with never-ending voices of doubt, we’ve survived and become one of the transport services that many people enjoy.
We are aware that we’re still young, and that today’s small achievements is not due to how accurate our business strategy is, how strong and big the team is, or how perfect execution was, but because we work harder than our competitors and are more down-to-earth. We are insistent on our mission of “technology driving the development of transportation” and our value system of keeping the customer in our hearts, maintaining confidence in data and new technologies, continuing to believe that if we’re together, we can create the future. Business performance is just a number; it is the approval of the customer and the value that society places on us that are the best rewards for every Helloren working day and night.
Over a time span of two years, lots of our fresh hires, after going through the hardship in the bike sharing sector, have grown to be able to hold their own at work and become valuable assets in the industry. There have also been many outstanding talent with international backgrounds joining Hellobike’s journey in going towards the future.
At this point, I want to specially say a word of thanks to every Helloren and the family, friends and partners of Hellobike. Thank you for accompanying Hellobike in the company’s most precious two years. Thank you for your tolerance and trust, which gave us two years of memories that we will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you for your continued commitment in not giving up and abandoning us, which has given us the ability to look at the stars in the sky, to actualise our dream of building on-demand transport services, and to extend our vision to a further future.
From today on, Hellobike will upgrade its brand (from Hellobike to Hello Chuxing). Going forward, from bike-sharing to general transportation, we will welcome harder tasks, more ambitious missions, and challenges with a higher level of difficulty. Perhaps we are not even fully prepared for this, although in the past we were No. 1 in the bike-sharing industry, but the business world will never stop developing. There will always be better business models, more outstanding entrepreneurs, and changes that we won’t be able to predict. But I believe that having been baptised by the fire of the entrepreneurial process, our will is never stronger, our hearts never bigger to embrace change, ever courageous to cross the unknown. We welcome competition and that having more outstanding industry partners will be the key to truly helping us grow and change. We insist on always working hard in shouldering more social responsibilities, and strive to adhere to our belief in keeping the user in our hearts. We insist on every Helloren joining us must have a strong sense of social responsibility. We insist on being ourselves — that is the value and meaning of our existence.
The road ahead is still long, the last two years were challenging, and perhaps there will be even more challenges ahead of us in the future, with transportation serving as a core element in society. Additionally, there will be plenty of pain points that have not been resolved, which are opportunities and responsibilities for Hello Chuxing. In the next 10, 20, and 30 years, following the rise and proliferation of self-driving cars, the transport business will see historic changes, and will be redefined. Let us stick to our mission, vision, and values in doing the correct thing, serving society and users, continuously creating new services and products, witnessing continuous evolution of the transport industry.
Lastly, thank you everyone — friends who have accompanied us on this path. As we chase our dreams, let us do this together. Every single day in the future will definitely not be ordinary.
Hello Chuxing CEO Yang Lei
September 17, 2018.
Editor: Ben Jiang