In 2014, a group of college students in Beijing founded Ofo, a bike-sharing startup. Customers can scan the QR code to rent a car, receive and pay anywhere in the city.
The convenience, ease of use of the public bike model has created competitive startups like Mobike and Bluegogo. These firms attract billions of dollars in investment, making founders like Dai Wei – CEO Ofo become famous entrepreneurs in the public eye.
But four years later, at least five of the above model startups went bankrupt. In June 2019, a Chinese court revealed that Ofo – the pioneer in the field that was once valued at more than $ 2 billion – has no assets, nor can it pay off debts to suppliers and customers. .
Golden era is over
Millions of Ofo customers criticized on social media that the company wasted billions of dollars, littered the city with unused bicycles, and didn’t refund them.
In December 2018, hundreds of people lined up for hours outside Ofo headquarters in Beijing, asking the company to refund. They got nothing but the promise of a refund in three days, but only a few did. By February 2020, Ofo changed to a shopping app, offering discounts on purchases instead of refunding old users.
Before that, the Chinese still honored billionaires in the field of technology. The success of early technology companies like Alibaba is seen as a national pride, proving to the world the remarkable economic and technical development of China.
The wave of public outrage at the demise of Ofo and the other tech unicorns is one of the first signs that affection for local tech firms is beginning to change.
For many years, Jack Ma has been a symbol of the success of the Chinese technology industry, inspiring so many people with the story of a high school teacher becoming the founder of two of the country’s most famous technology names: Alibaba and Ant Group.