Ofo Cofounder Rumored to Have Started a New Independent Business

According to insider information received by 36Kr, one of the cofounders of ofo, Zhang Siding, has established a new venture. Apparently, the former bike-sharing executive has started a consumer brand called BLANK, which mainly produces and sells high-frequency products like shower gels. One of the people familiar with the situation told 36Kr that the project has received 3 million yuan in investment.

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The insider claims that Zhang Siding’s new company was registered under the name Wuyiwu (Beijing) Business Co., Ltd., with an initial capital of 1 million yuan, on July 19 this year. However, 36Kr’s inquiries into the enterprise’s shareholders list did not find Zhang Siding’s name in it. The company’s shareholders currently include three people – none of whom are Zhang Siding – and a company named Beijing Zhongjin Huicai Investment Management Co., Ltd.

According to the people familiar with the situation, the mysterious entity recently invested 3 million yuan in BLANK to secure 10% of the company, implying that the company is currently valued at roughly 30 million yuan.

Tencent News speculates that Zhang’s possible interest in a retail project could be rooted in his experience at ofo. At the beginning of this year, ofo cooperated with an online retailer called Mydeer. All users who did not receive a refund for their ofo deposits were given an option to transfer the deposit into Mydeer’s gold coins, and use the combination of the coins and cash to purchase goods in the marketplace. Zhang Siding acted as the intermediary between the companies.

Interestingly, Zhang Siding responded to 36Kr’s inquiries into the issue saying that “There is no such thing”. Ofo refused to give any coherent answer, saying it was inconvenient to respond.

Zhang Siding was among the five co-founders of ofo and was initially responsible for areas including campus development, HR, finance and safety. However, as of January 17, openly available business information showed that Zhang Siding and another cofounder Xue Ding had left their positions at ofo, while still remaining as shareholders of the company. Xue Ding is rumored to have also established an independent company reportedly dealing with electronic door locks.

The string of high-profile withdrawals as well as the overall situation on the streets, where the yellow ofo bikes are gradually being squeezed out by new yellow Meituan bikes, suggest that the embattled startup might be doing worse than it dares to admit.