One thing’s for sure: despite our frustrations with oBike and its sudden (or not-so-sudden) departure, oBike isn’t going to stay radio silent.
After a shock announcement that the bike-sharing company is going to exit the Singapore market, people started the #ReturnMyDeposit movement because it resembles yet another startup that has sucked its investors’ money to have a fancy office and pretty business front, only to be bankrupted by its lack of profitability.
A statement issued on 1 July 2018 proved otherwise, as oBike posted an apology filled with ambiguous promises to resolve the problem.
At least they’re talking, no?
Maybe It’s Due to the Authorities
For a start, LTA has given oBike a deadline of 4 July 2018 to clear Singapore of its unsightly bikes, numbering to almost 14,000 of them. Maybe it’s just me, but I somehow didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of any oBike near my house and my office nowadays (maybe they’re really making the effort to do so).
Nevertheless, other than LTA’s ultimatum, town councils have stepped in as well: Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council went all out to paste a total of 170 offence notices on the vacant oBike office.
And then in an even shocking manner, mainstream media Today posted this gif:
I don’t know about you, but Today just got a new fan.
Not Just Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council
Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council isn’t the only town council fining the bike-sharing company; other town councils did so too, though it seems like Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council is the only one that pasted the notices on the office as oBike has been “uncontactable”. These offices were made between November 2017 to February 2018 for – surprise, surprise – indiscriminate parking of bikes.
The Man Has Spoken
Go online and you’ll hear about two men who are involved in the founding of oBike, and none of the two are Singaporeans despite oBike priding itself as a “Singapore startup”.
One of which is Shi Yi, and in yet another shock move, he had spoken to The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.
What Was Disclosed
Before anything, here’s a brief lesson about running a business in Singapore.
There are essentially three types of businesses: one is sole proprietorship, in which a person is self-employed, sort of like a Grab driver. In this model, the person is the business: if anyone wants to sue the business, he’s essentially suing the person. Every dollar that goes into the business is the person’s assets as well.
Then there’s partnership which isn’t that common and isn’t relevant here, so I’ll leave that out. The last is a company – usually, it’s called XXX Pte Ltd.
For a company, the owners are the shareholders, and the director is the one running the company. When a company goes into liquidation (close down), whatever assets the company have would be turned into cash and would be given to creditors first (i.e. the deposits lah, the PR firm that allegedly still isn’t paid yet lah, the fines lah…etc). If the company has no creditors, the shareholders would receive the money.
So basically, Shi Yi mentioned that oBike is trying to raise money from shareholders to refund the deposits to users.
Of course, if you’ve paid attention to the business lesson earlier, you’ll go, “Wait, what?”
But anyways, moving on.
Number of Deposits
According to a separate interview with Lianhe Zaobao, the number of deposits that aren’t refunded is allegedly at more than 100,000, and most of them are students.
Students pay a deposit of $19 while adults pay a deposit of $49.
Amount of Deposit Owed
Here’s the most interesting revelation: the amount owed is SGD$6.3 million. Okay, that’s reasonable, until you do some quick maths.
If all are students: $19 X 100,000 = SGD$1.9 million
If all are adults: $49 X 100,000 = SGD$4.9 million
Shi Yi Willing to Use His Own “Shares” to Bear the Cost
The founder, who has 23% shares of oBike, then has this to say: “In any case, as long as the user wants to get the deposit back, we will try our best to repay it…The worst plan is that I am willing to use my shares to bear the cost.”
But if you somehow is feeling fuming hot now, here’s a cute cat to end this article and cool you down:
Now you know what Singaporeans are talking about today; do check back tomorrow for another piece of news of the day!