Why you keep seeing these sad-looking bikes circling your town as the company’s second attempt at breaking into the tricky Australian market fails miserably
- Mobike Australia has gone into liquidation after a second attempt in Australia
- The company was founded in 2015 by a former technology journalist in China
- About 1,600 of the company’s bikes are left in warehouses and on the road
Bright orange and silver bikes were once a common sight in Australia’s biggest cities – but the world’s largest bike company has given up on its second attempt to crack our tricky ride-sharing market.
More than 1,600 bikes, worth a total of about $1.3 million, built by Chinese start-up Mobike have been left in warehouses and on streets along Australia’s east coast.
Founded in 2015 by former technology journalist Hu Weiwei in Shanghai, Mobike quickly boomed thanks to nearly $1 billion in investor funds and the sharing economy trend of the late 2010s.
It expanded to other regions and countries before landing on Australia’s Sydney coast and Gold Coast in 2017.
But bike-sharing companies hoping to break into the Australian market have encountered a spate of difficulties – from vandalism to theft and strained relationships with local councils over bikes being left in unauthorized locations.
Mobikes in a park in Sydney (pictured). The company went into liquidation
The start-up was founded in 2015 by Chinese technology journalist Hu WeiWei (pictured).
In 2018, the company was sold to Chinese web conglomerate Meituan-Dianping for about $3.8 billion, with Ms. Hu and co-founder Davis Wang both leaving the company in the same year.
By the following year, Meituan-Dianping wanted to improve its balance sheet and decided to shut down Mobike’s operations in dozens of overseas countries.
This marked the end of the start-up’s first attempt in Australia, but its assets were bought by a group of overseas-based investors who rebranded themselves and tried again as Onyahbike – or OBike – by Mobike Australia.
That went into external administration in October 2022, according to regulator ASIC, with the entire company being put up for sale on commercial properties through bankruptcy trustees Chifley Advisory.
A report submitted by Chifley just before Christmas found that a buyer could not be found and painted a picture of how many bikes were out in the wild.
“Approximately 1,600 bikes are located in four storage facilities in NSW and Queensland with an estimated value of $1,341,860,” the report reads The Sydney Morning Heraldexplained.
The liquidators said a director told them there were also a significant number on the streets, but they could not be located because the software was no longer active.
“Because the third-party software provider has terminated the company’s software, we cannot access the information about the bikes currently in use,” said a bankruptcy trustee, Henry Kwok.
“We have been advised that some bikes may be deployed in Gold Coast, Queensland.”
Around 1,600 of the bikes are in warehouses and on the streets of Australia’s cities
The liquidators made a “commercial decision” to forego any interest in the bikes as it was difficult to find them all, get their software working and pay to keep them – and all but failed them.
They added Mobike Australia is still the owner and any profits made from or selling the bikes should legally go to them.
Mobike, Lime and Ofo were among the first bike sharing companies to pop up in Australia.
Lime is still going strong and is backed by a second wave of firms, including US-based Bird and China-based HelloRide, which have recently surfaced.
The bikes have become more robust, equipped with GPS and speed-limited for the electric versions, which together with improved agreements with local governments could make them a mainstay on city streets.