And then there were three.
After the recent implosions of two rival services, a third Chinese bike-sharing startup is this month falling to pieces. Mingbike has fired 99 percent of its staff, some of whom haven’t been paid for months, reported the South China Morning Post today.
As with the other two failing startups, angry users are struggling to get back their US$30 deposits from the dockless bike-share service.
Compared to the other two, Bluegogo and Coolqi, Mingbike – also known as Xiaoming – was a less-used service available in just a handful of cities.
Coolqi, known for its green livery as well as its headline-grabbing golden bicycles, has 1.4 million bikes, but it’s now struggling to stay afloat.
Its former CEO this week suggested an unusual – and illegal – way it might settle its debt with riders. “In the worst scenario, we will allow users to ride our bikes home,” said Gao Weiwei, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Angry users are speaking of their frustration on social media – or anywhere where they can leave a comment.
“A company of swindlers – won’t return my deposit,” vented one commenter on the Chinese iOS App Store. “A month with no responses. Can never get through to the customer service hotline. Everyone, do not use this,” wrote another on the Coolqi app page.
Bluegogo was once valued at US$140 million after raising US$58 million from invstors.
With 40 bike-share apps still operating in China, winter has just set in.
“Bike-sharing is an asset-heavy industry. As investors become increasing cautious and reasonable about their bet, a timely merger or acquisition may be the only chance for second-tier players to survive,” said Shi Rui, an analyst with consulting firm iResearch to the South China Morning Post.
Mobike and Ofo, China’s top bike-share services, are now rapidly expanding overseas.
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