China-based bike-sharing provider ofo Inc. and SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp. have reached a basic agreement to collaborate on the deployment of ofo’s global bike-sharing business in Japan. ofo and SoftBank C&S plan to enter an exclusive partnership for a large-scale deployment, with SoftBank C&S serving as strategic partner of ofo's bike-sharing services in Japan. In addition, ofo and SoftBank C&S plan to launch initially in Tokyo and Osaka in September 2017.
In July, ofo closed a $700-million Series E Round led by e-commerce giant Alibaba, Hony Capital and CITIC Private Equity. Existing backers, including ride-sharing firm Didi and DST Global, also took part. Ofo had raised a $450-million Series D round in February.
Japan is an important market for ofo’s APAC expansion, with millions of locals adopting cycling across the country. ofo looks forward to improving local transportation ecosystems and providing short-distance services that are well suited to the needs of Japanese cities and travelers.
Launching in Japan is a huge milestone for ofo. In a country where there is a strong cycling culture, we strive to further improve the convenience and cost-effectiveness that cycling can bring to people in Japan. SoftBank has an impressive track record for technology innovation and capturing market trends. I envision great synergy between us and SoftBank C&S and I have confidence that this partnership will pave the way for ofo’s business growth and transformation, enabling us to better cater to our users’ needs in Japan.—Lawrence Cao, head of ofo’s APAC business
Ofo currently serves markets in China, Singapore, the UK and Kazakhstan; service in some US cities begins this year. Ofo has more than 6.5 million bicycles in operation globally; ofo users take more than 25 million rides via the platform each day.