ot too long ago, Chinese bike-sharing giant Ofo was riding high, launching its service in cities around the globe from Singapore to Seattle. Now, its entire international business department is no more.
The company is facing a severe cash crisis which was only made worse last month when hundreds of customers started lining up outside of Ofo headquarters in Beijing demanding that their deposits be refunded. Soon, more than 10 million Ofo users were asking for refunds and CEO Da Wei was placed on a government blacklist for failing to pay company debts, preventing him taking vacations or buying property without court approval.
Though Ofo has considered bankruptcy, Da Wei and his team have vowed to preserve and fight on, though apparently not outside of China.
Reportedly, the general manager of Ofo’s overseas operations has offered the 50 or so employees in his now defunct unit a few options: To transfer to a domestic unit and have their salary cut in half until April or May, or to leave without compensation and be paid in full for December and January.
In a public statement, Ofo has called the termination of its international arm a bit of “normal business restructuring.” The company first began expanding overseas in December 2016. By the end of 2017, it claimed to have established operations in 50 foreign cities around the globe, offering 100,000 bikes and facilitating more than 10 million rides outside of China.
However, last year, the bike-sharing model began to crumble with both Ofo and its main rival Mobike hurriedly closing up shop overseas and retreating back to China to try to save their businesses from complete ruin.