HONG KONG - High maintenance costs and thin margins have forced Hong Kong’s first bicycle-sharing operator Gobee.bike to wind up its business a little more than a year after its launch, with July 18 the last operating day.
Gobee.bike said their “decision is purely due to their financial situation” in a statement; their inability to make the service profitable and financial costs of maintaining a fleet finally induced them to quit the Hong Kong market.
The statement also told existing users how to reclaim deposits, promising to return clients their HK$399 in deposits. Deposits will be refunded to users’ accounts within one month of the August 10 claims deadline, after which the company will accept no more requests.
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In a drive to create an environmentally friendly society in Hong Kong, chief executive and co-founder Raphael Cohen launched the business in April last year, inspired by booming bicycle-sharing businesses in the Chinese mainland.
Cohen told China Daily last year that the company had already finished the C seed round of investment, and the round was led by Swiss Founders Fund, Cocoon Ignite Ventures, Lastminute.com group’s founder and chairman Fabio Cannavale, Lamivoie Capital and Goldman Sachs alumni as well as individual investors.
Gobee.bike had been unable to find investors since last October. Cohen said the Gobee.bike team sincerely hoped they could return to the drawing board in Hong Kong when meeting interested investors in the future.
The bike-sharing provider began showing problems at the beginning of this year when it gradually laid off 100 staff. In February, Gobee.bike ended its operations in France and Italy, also citing high maintenance costs.
Hong Kong’s bike-sharing market – narrow but fiercely competitive – has attracted many operators such as Ofo and Locobike. Gobee.bike focused on more mature markets where facilities are better built compared with its rivals but Cohen admitted an oversupply of bicycles squeezed out his ambitions.
The end of Gobee.bike did not reflect attitudes toward bike-sharing among citizens, he said, although some bikes were stolen or abandoned on purpose.
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