A former beacon heading the rise of urban e-bikes, VanMoof, has been declared bankrupt.
On 17th July, the Court of Amsterdam declared the Dutch legal entities VanMoof Global Holding B.V., VanMoof B.V. and VanMoof Global Support B.V. bankrupt, confirming rumours about the Netherlands company that has been a darling of the industry and has attracted a total of €200 million (A$329 million) from venture capitalists over the years.
A statement from VanMoof last week says the appointed trustees are currently setting up a sales process for the company’s assets and activities, to potentially find a party willing to continue the activities of VanMoof.
Established in 2009 by brothers Taco and Ties Carlier, VanMoof released its first bike in 2016. Its futuristic designs and clever marketing grew a large following among urban commuters in cities throughout the world and expanded urban e-bikes’ appeal beyond the usual biking audience.
However, the company’s social media pages also reveal a significant level of customer dissatisfaction with its follow-up service.
Suspicions about VanMoof’s financial position were sparked earlier this month when the district court of Amsterdam granted VanMoof Global Holding B.V. preliminary suspension of payment.
That came after VanMoof had gone back to investors in January to ask for additional funding to continue operations.
According to VanMoof’s statement released last week, associated legal entities outside the Netherlands are not part of the insolvency proceedings.
The statement also revealed VanMoof had already stopped selling and shipping individual spare parts to customers earlier this year.
The company has also issued information to assist VanMoof bike owners, including how to manage their bike unlocking codes so they can continue to use their e-bikes.
Cowboy to the Rescue
Soon after the preliminary suspension of payments was granted, rival company Cowboy released a free iOS app which VanMoof users can use to store their digital bicycle key, so they can continue to use their bikes.
“We wanted to get this shipped as quickly as possible because it will work while the VanMoof servers are live and we just don’t know how long that will be,” Cowboy communications director Amy Grimshaw said at the time.
In a move of sector solidarity, to keep e-bike and their riders on the roads, Cowboy engineeres reportedly started to build their ‘Bikey app’ immediately after VanMoof was granted its payment protection.
Bikey was created by reverse engineering the VanMoof app and rebooting it.
Further Boost for VanMoof Owners
In addition, UK e-bike technology startup Boost announced it is working on a version of its technology platform to keep VanMoof riders on the road.
Boost is predicting a September release of its system to replace the main circuit board on each VanMoof, which Boost founder Nick Bailey believes will be necessary to keep them operational.
“The biggest problem is the security system built into each VanMoof. Before each ride the bike must be unlocked. If it is not, the rear wheel stays physically locked and the electric motor will not turn on,” Boost says in a media release announcing its solution.
“As the VanMoof internet servers are turned off and the engineers leave the company, it is likely the bikes will become orphaned.”
Boost says it will progressively roll out its replacement drive system, starting with a version for the VanMoof S3 version of the bike.
It will replace the motor drive electronics and interface with the VanMoof wheel lock and gearbox e-shifter.
“As the Boost system is wirelessly over-the-air upgradeable, new features will be added on demand from customers.”
Rad Power Pulling Out of Europe
Another shining light of fashionable urban e-bikes, Seattle company Rad Power Bikes, announced last week it is pulling out of the European and UK markets from 2024, to focus on North America “in order to be competitive and successful in the long term”.
“An in-depth business evaluation made it clear that the move was necessary for long-term success,” Rad Power Bikes CEO Phil Molyneux, who was appointed last year, says in an online statement.
“For now and the next several months, it will be business as usual, and we are fully available to you for test rides, questions, and service needs, as well as having ample stock of our award-winning e-bikes available.”
Rad Power has also benefitted from massive input from investors in recent years, raising $329 million (A$488.12 million) in private investment since its launch in 2007.
In 2021 alone, it raised more than $300 million (A$445.37 million) in two investment rounds.
However, the company has reportedly had four rounds of job cuts in the past two years. It scrapped 100 positions in April 2021 and 63 in July 2022, followed by further layoffs in December and April 2023.