Dockless bike sharing company Gobee.bike has announced that it will terminate its Hong Kong operations next Wednesday, almost a year and three months after their launch.
The startup announced the decision on Facebook, and said it was purely based on its financial situation.
“After over a year in service, we unfortunately have not been able to make the service profitable, and the financial costs of maintaining the bikes in their best condition has proven to be too high for us to sustain the business,” the message from CEO Raphael Cohen said.
Cohen said the company will no longer accept new payments, but users can still use the bikes for a week before they will be locked.
He left instructions for users to have their deposits automatically refunded by closing their accounts through the app.
However, many users asked in the comments if the residual value in their accounts would be refunded as well.
One warned others not to close their accounts yet, as she was unable to get the money from her account back after she closed it.
HKFP has asked Gobee.bike to comment on the issue.
Cohen also said the company will be taking care of the bikes and communicating regularly with the government, and asked users to “please be patient and take good care of our bikes as usual.”
Gobee.bike raised US$9 million in funding after it launched in April last year.
Cohen said it was launched “with the goal of bringing dockless bike sharing to Hong Kong and helping make the city more environmentally-friendly and convenient.”
But the bike-sharing service has seen its share of troubles besides financial woes. Less than a week after it launched, ten of its bikes were dumped into water channels. At the time, the company said it suspected that competitors or “powerful figures” were behind the damage.
Last month, HKFP found over 20 share bikes abandoned along a trail on Lantau Island, including Gobee bikes.
“We apologize for not being able to serve our users in Hong Kong and the inconvenience that has caused. We hope that during the short time Gobee.bike was here, we were able to bring a little bit of sunshine to your lives,” Cohen wrote.
Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, told HKFP that there are over half a dozen bike share operations active in the city: “[I]t was inevitable – and healthy – that not all would survive. I hope that the government now supports the development of this important new transport option – without of course picking individual winners.”