Meituan to steer Mobike in new direction with name change
CGTN

Mobike is set to change its name to Meituan Bike, reflecting a closer integration with the digital ecosystem of its owner, Meituan Dianping, ahead of a crucial do-or-die year as bike-sharing struggles to show it can be profitable.

An internal letter to employees from Wang Huiwen, senior vice president of Meituan Dianping, confirmed the name change while adding that Meituan Bike would be treated as a “distinct business group” within Meituan Dianping.

A media release on Wednesday said that users of Meituan Bike would have “exclusive access through the Meituan app,” casting the future of Mobike's current standalone app in doubt.

Meituan Dianping upgraded its app on January 16 to include a “ride a bike” feature, allowing users to access Mobike services.

Meituan Dianping bought Mobike in April 2018 for around 2.7 billion U.S. dollars, after bike-sharing grew rapidly across China and began to expand overseas.

However, the end of 2018 saw serious financial trouble for Mobike's rival ofo, and huge question marks remain over bike-sharing's viability as a business model, with neither company ever turning a profit.

The initial public offering prospectus for Meituan Dianping last year showed Mobike was making significant losses in the first four months of 2018, hemorrhaging 407 million yuan (59.8 million U.S. dollars).

Meituan Dianping's platform offers users a wide range of services, from food delivery to hotel bookings and ride-hailing. The company raised 4.2 billion U.S. dollars after listing in Hong Kong last September, in the biggest Internet-focused IPO in years.