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In Depth: Is the Sharing Economy Bubble Bursting?

By Wang Xiaoqing, Qian Tong, Xue Xiaoli and Denise Jia / Nov 12, 2019 12:23 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

This has been a year of failure in the sharing economy. WeWork’s initial public offering flopped. Uber and Lyft’s stocks have sunk way below their IPO prices. Airbnb faces a safety crisis. Ofo is on the verge of bankruptcy. Didi Chuxing is struggling with resuming its carpooling service after drivers murdered passengers.

The bursting bubble has forced Wall Street and investors to question their judgment, startups to revamp their growth strategies and governments to consider how to regulate the emerging sector.

WeWork created the most dramatic scene after the shared-workspace provider canceled its initial public offering (IPO) and stuck private equity investors led by Japan’s SoftBank Group with catastrophic losses. In the July-September quarter, SoftBank’s Vision Fund wrote down investments in more than 20 other companies, including Uber, as the sharing economy startups failed to deliver profits.

While SoftBank is one of the most-exposed tech investors, the sector’s rough 2019 is sending ripple effects broadly through the nascent sharing economy industry. The failure of WeWork’s IPO and the disappointing stock performance of already-listed companies show that investors in public markets have been more realistic than private equity investors like SoftBank. It’s expected that there will be more reverse valuations of tech companies between the private and public markets.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

Related: WeWork Putting the Brakes on China Push: Report

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