Ofo bike-sharing service puts brakes on London operation

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Ofo face bankruptcy

Amid reports of financial trouble, Chinese mobile startup Ofo appears to be rolling back its international reach - including removing itself entirely from London.

The station-free bike-sharing platform is backed by global giant Alibaba and was founded in 2014. However, there are widespread claims it is nearing bankruptcy, causing it to wind down its operations.

Rival Bluegogo went under in 2017, and both Ofo and Mobike - the world’s largest shared bike provider - have faced issues in the meantime. Low takeup and vandalism meant Ofo left Norwich, Sheffield, and Oxford, while high-profile problems led Mobike to ditch Manchester.

Ofo had at one point reached 21 countries internationally, across Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. The organisation said its bicycles had been used 10 million times outside of China.

Now, its international division has been scrapped. Employees were offered the chance to leave or join the domestic workforce with a 50% cut in pay.

In December, millions of refund requests were submitted by customers, and Ofo’s founder and CEO admitted he had already considered filing for bankruptcy on multiple previous occasions.