Didi executives ride over to boost the ranks of Ofo

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-27 08:11

Didi executives ride over to boost the ranks of Ofo

A woman tries out an Ofo bike at an industry expo in Beijing earlier this month. [Photo by Zou Hong/For China Daily]

Three senior executives from China's biggest ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing have joined Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo Inc. The move is seen as an indication of the strengthening influence that Didi is having on Ofo.

Ofo announced on Wednesday it had named Fu Qiang, a former senior vice-president of Didi, executive president of the company. Fu will report directly to CEO Dai Wei.

Fu will leverage his industry experience to help Ofo improve operational efficiency and upgrade user experiences, the company said in a statement.

At the same time, the head of Didi's open platform Nan Shan and director of finance Leslie Liu have joined Ofo's marketing and finance department, financial magazine Caijing reported.

Ofo confirmed that the two senior executives joined the company, but declined to disclose the positions they hold.

Didi, as a strategic investor in Ofo, said in a statement that it is willing to provide assistance to such an excellent startup and would continue to help Ofo in capital, staffing, technology and operations in the future.

The ride-hailing giant aims to further integrate Ofo's last-mile mobility solutions with its own ride-hailing capabilities, and has participated in nearly every financing round of Ofo since its first investment in September 2016.

"Didi has accumulated rich experience in the car-sharing sector, including market strategy, investor relations management and consumer behavior analysis, which is of guiding significance for Ofo that is still in a growth phase," said Wang Xiaofeng, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

Wang said only two to three companies could survive in the fierce competition. "Users' experience and their loyalty to the brand will become more important to bike-sharing companies," the analyst added.

Earlier this month, Ofo raised more than $700 million in its latest round of financing, which was led by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Hony Capital and CITIC Private Equity. Other backers included its former investors DST Global and Didi.

Didi reportedly owns more than 30 percent of Ofo, and two of Ofo's eight board members are from Didi. It added Ofo's service into its app in April, allowing users to book their bikes directly via the Didi ride-hailing app.

Last month, Ofo's arch rival Mobike Technology Co Ltd raised more than $600 million in its latest round of financing led by existing investor Tencent Holdings, taking this year's funding to over $1 billion.

Wang Chenxi, an analyst at internet consultancy Analysys in Beijing, said Didi will help Ofo enhance its operational ability and competitiveness.

Wang added that Ofo's personnel adjustment would speed up the reshuffle of the industry and accelerate the pace of competition with its biggest rival Mobike.

Ouyang Shijia contributed to the story.

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