One of China’s top bike-share startups is on the brink of collapse with wages unpaid, senior executives departing, its CEO missing in action, and its HQ suddenly devoid of staff.
Bluegogo, once valued at US$140 million after raising US$58 million and expanding to San Francisco and Sydney, holds tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits from its approximate 15 million users, which many now fear cannot be refunded.
The service took a US$99 deposit in the US to begin borrowing the dockless bikes, while China-based users had to cough up around US$15.
One user who talked to Tech in Asia said he applied for the refund weeks ago but has not received the cash.
A well-known and much-followed tech blogger visited Bluegogo’s stylish and sizeable Beijing office this week and found it largely empty.
The Bluegogo logo sits in darkness:
Bluegogo CEO Li Gang has been out of the country for some time, report numerous Chinese media outlets, with staff this week told salary payments will be delayed until February 10, 2018. One insider at the startup says the business has US$30 million in debts, reports Yicai today.
Meanwhile, Bluegogo vice president Hu Yufei told Technode this afternoon he departed the startup several months ago. The blog notes that many staff have already waited months to get their wages.
After starting in 2016, the firm expanded rapidly to the point that it has, at the last reliable count, around 350,000 bicycles on the streets.
By some measures, Bluegogo was the third largest of multiple copycat bike-share startups. Mobike and Ofo are fighting over first place as both expand to multiple countries.
See: China drafts rules to wrangle bike-sharing craze
This post Shock as $140m bike-share startup on the verge of collapse – and its CEO has gone AWOL appeared first on Tech in Asia.