In China’s internet warzone, there’s a road map for success: find a rich backer, get lots of money, burn it to buy market share. The latest chapter of that playbook is being written by two young entrepreneurs each offering an update on a former icon of China’s communist party — the bicycle.
In one corner is Dai Wei, 25, whose Beijing Bikelock Technology Co. cycle-sharing startup, known as Ofo, won about $100 million backing in September from investors including the venture fund backed by Xiaomi Corp. founder Lei Jun and Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing giant that just beat Uber Technologies Inc. out of China. The funding is said to have valued the startup at $500 million.
In the other is Hu Weiwei, who received similar funding days later for her Beijing Mobike Technology Co. from a group including Tencent Holdings Ltd., the nation’s biggest internet company and, ironically, a long-term backer of Didi.
This is the trial by fire of China’s internet landscape, where alliances change in days and startups bleed billions of dollars offering freebies to get customers, only to merge months later so they can take on the next upcoming competitor.
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