China’s ‘Big Gamble’: Lessons From the Bike Sharing Bust

In 2014, five students from the cycling club at Peking University had an idea to build new, technologically savvy bicycles with codes that people could scan with their smartphone, pay a small fee for a short ride, and leave basically wherever they pleased.

In just a few years, this ‘bike sharing’ idea became a country-wide phenomenon, and by 2016 millions of new bicycles could be found in cities across China from companies with billion-dollar-plus valuations.

By the end of 2018, however, several leading bike-sharing companies had gone bankrupt, and now the bicycles that were once viewed as one of the country’s great innovations have largely become inconvenient and colorful stains on city streets or been sent to massive bicycle graveyards…