Ofo pulls out of US after exiting Australia, Germany and India

The bike-sharing giant had intended to put 20million bikes in 20 international cities just last year.

An Ofo bike in Xiyuan, China. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ofo is exiting the US less than a year since launch.

The Chinese bike-sharing company is shutting down most of its North American operations and laying off a vast number of its workforce, according to what people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal today.

Ofo, which in its heyday was available in more than 30 US cities with more than 40,000 bikes, intends to pull out of most cities except a selected few which includes New York, Seattle and San Diego, according to a separate report by Quartz.

Its US operation has seen at least three senior executives leaving in recent weeks, according to WSJ. Its head of US operations, Chris Taylor, also left last week, according to the Quartz report. Ofo’s North American business will now “prioritize growth in viable markets that support alternative transportation and allow us to continue to serve our customers,” said the firm’s new head of North America in a statement to WSJ. The rapid turn-around comes just weeks after former US-head Taylor wrote in a Medium post in June that Ofo wants to expand to over 100 US cities by the end of this year.

The global leader n the bike-sharing business had launched in the US August last year with big ambitions. But it is now also preparing to exit Germany, according to Chinese media reports citing an unnamed German publication. The exit announcements will be unveiled in the next few weeks, according to various Chinese reports.

Ofo has also pulled out of Australia, Israel and India in this July alone, rather swiftly backpedaling out of its international expansion plans. It is now attempting to prioritize on a key few international markets, in a little over a year after it planned to put 20 million bikes in 20 countries worldwide, according to Chinese media outlet The Paper.

According to reports by Caixin, Ofo plans to continue in Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong in Asia.

The Alibaba-backed company, valued in billions of US dollars, has raised US$866 million in a financing round led by Alibaba in March this year, in which the amount is the largest raised by a bike-sharing company, according to Ofo then. Tencent-backed Mobike and Ofo combined own more than 90 percent of the bike-sharing market in China. The two companies were reportedly facing cash-flow issues since last year, with rumors of a merger with Mobike, but Mobike later agreed to a takeover by Chinese O2o giant Meituan in April this year.