Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ofo bicycles sit parked on a sidewalk in Shanghai, China.
Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo has set its sights on global expansion, saying on Thursday it raised over $700 million in a funding round that included Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group.
The funding round was led by Alibaba, Hony Capital and CITIC Private Equity, with additional participation from existing investors Didi Chuxing and DST Global.
“We will further upgrade our service for better user experiences, accelerate our global expansion strategy and continue to lead the bike-sharing industry,” said Dai Wei, founder and CEO of Ofo, in a prepared statement. “Our vision is to unlock every corner of the world, and make Ofo the universal language.”
Ofo declined to disclose the valuation for the current funding round, but Dai told CNBC in April the company was worth more than $2 billion.
China’s bike-sharing industry has been heating up, with upstarts such as Ofo, rival Beijing Mobike Technology and others aiming to improve urban mobility in the country and promote greener transport.
The concept of bike-sharing is simple enough: People use a smartphone app to unlock a nearby bike and ride to their final destination for a small fee, beating the clogged traffic in many Chinese cities.
Investors have seen the potential for the market, and have poured sizable chunks of money into the segment. Before Thursday’s funding news, Ofo said it had raised more than $650 million.
Last month, Mobike said it had raised over $600 million in a funding round led by internet giant Tencent Holdings and joined by Sequoia, TPG and Hillhouse Capital among others.
By the end of the year, Ofo said it planned to deploy 20 million bikes to the bike-sharing ecosystem and to expand its services to reach 200 cities in 20 countries around the world. The company added that it currently has over 6.5 million bikes in 150 cities.