Apple CEO visits China bike-sharing start-up ofo

Sijia Jiang

HONG KONG, March 21 (Reuters) - Apple Inc chief

executive Tim Cook paid a visit to Chinese bike-sharing company

ofo on Tuesday, as the country's ride-sharing start-ups fight

aggressively for investor dollars and market share.

Cook visited the office of the Beijing-based start-up, known

for its yellow bikes, and met with founding members including

CEO Dai Wei, according to Cook's microblog and ofo.

"Thanks for welcoming me today, ofo team! Great energy

behind your mission to make commuting greener, more efficient

and fun!" Cook said in his official Sina Weibo post, along with

pictures of him riding an ofo bike.

Cook's visit comes amid a fierce contest for users and

investors among China's bike-sharing start-ups, which has drawn

in large global tech investors. The competition is frequently

compared to a similar battle for the ride-sharing market between

Uber Technologies and local rival Didi Chuxing a year

ago.

Ofo, which counts Didi as an investor, said Cook came for a

company visit on Tuesday and did not discuss investment or

collaboration. It raised $450 million earlier this month and saw

its valuation pass the $1 billion mark.

Ofo and its main rival Mobike are among a growing number of

bike-sharing services that have sprung up in China that allow

users to find, unlock and pay to rent trackable bicycles through

smartphone apps. It targets younger consumers seeking to get

around congested roads and public transport.

Ofo says it operates in 43 cities in China with 2.2 million

bikes. It also claims pilot schemes in Singapore, London and

California.

Shanghai-based Mobike, which has raised more than $300

million so far this year from investors including Tencent

Holdings, Warburg Pincus, and Singapore state investor

Temasek Holdings, said on Tuesday it was fully launching in

Singapore.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Sam Holmes)