Taiwan’s Giant Bicycles was founded in 1972 and has an annual turnover of just under a billion dollars. Mobike of China was founded in 2015 and, after being pumped full of investment dollars, is worth three times that.
Mobike has the capacity to manufacture 50,000 of its dockless bikes per day. By comparison, in 1951, at the height of its international power, Raleigh’s Nottingham factory churned out 3,800 bikes per working day.
Now, it’s worth pulling on the brakes here and stressing that being worth $3bn doesn’t mean Mobike will ever be able to make that sort of revenue per year, and having the capacity to make 50,000 bikes a day is very different to actually making them in such numbers.
“The current daily production is very much demand driven and changes regularly, therefore we don’t disclose specific numbers,” Mobike’s UK general manager Steve Pyer told BikeBiz.
The great majority of Mobike’s bikes are made in company-owned factories.
“The reason I chose to join Mobike over other potential companies in this industry is that Mobike designs and manufactures its own bikes and was originally set up to do so,” said Pyer.
“Buying off the shelf did not meet our founder’s vision.”
Mobike was founded by Weiwei Hu in January 2015. She’s not yet forty years of age yet is one of a growing number of Chinese women entrepreneurs well on their way to becoming millionaires. (China has over 80 percent of the world’s self-made women billionaires.)
Hu is a former technology journalist. She was senior reporter for BusinessValue Magazine between 2011 and 2014 leaving to found Geekcar.com, a Chinese-language news site reporting on automotive tech trends.
Sniffing the (polluted) Beijing air she became “driven by a desire to transform cities by making bikes available to everyone,” says her Linkedin profile.
Despite owning her own factories, Hu still has to farm out some production to third-party vendors.
“To meet global demand, a small percentage of the latest bikes have been produced by our partners,” said Pyer.
“We maintain rigid quality control over these and our bikes have received certification from some of the world’s most respected product testing and certification agencies, including TÜV in Germany, JIS in Japan and, of course, in the UK.”
In the space of 12 months, Mobike went from being a start-up to deploying 6.5 million bike-share cycles in 100 countries around the world. And Mobike is not even China’s biggest dockless firm. Ofo – also just a youngster – is bigger, in terms of funding at least.
The dockless bike-share sector may eventually shutter when the venture capital runs out, but the venture capital isn’t about to run out any time soon. As BikeBiz reported on Tuesday Ofo has raised $866 million in new funding led by Chinese online retailer Alibaba. One of Mobike’s biggest investors is Tencent of China, the world’s fifth-largest internet company by revenue.
With Alibaba and Tencent fighting a proxy war via Ofo and Mobike it’s entirely possible that even more money will be sunk into the sector in the coming months. And, if that is the case, the mind-numbing numbers above will increase even further.