In the shareholder’s meeting of MoBike on acquisition offer by Meituan, CEO Davis Wang voted against. Founder Hu Weiwei voted for, so did most of the shareholders.
So it was no surprise that yesterday MoBike announced that Davis would step down as CEO as continue as “advisor”. Of course, it is for “personal reasons”.
Wang said at the vote: “The team has made many mistakes. My stance has always been that the company should develop independently, but an arm can’t win a wrestle against a leg, in China startups can never walk around the giants.”
It was pretty clear that he wanted to chart an independent path for MoBike.
Especially when he was the person who actually, operationally, brought MoBike to this day.
P&G, Tencent & Uber
He is visibly older than many (maybe most) of the unicorn CEOs in China, having obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1997. He then started his career with P&G, one of the most desired (and thus most difficult to get in) MNCs in China. P&G was a good training ground for operations and marketing – and because it attracted the best talent back then, it has a good alumni network across China.
His subsequent experience with companies like Tencent, and especially his most recent stint (prior to MoBike) as General Manager for Uber Shanghai, defined who he is today.
Although there is much grapevine about his management style, and his track record at Uber, there is no doubt he was well equipped to steer a large ship when he joined MoBike.
In his mid-40s, this was the opportunity for him to finally shine.
That explains why, despite the fact that the Meituan acquisition would probably make him quite rich, he still voted against it.
He felt he could do far greater things with MoBike.
No independent course
Alas, operations is not the only winning factor. As a business model, MoBike requires massive amount of funding to stay competitive, let alone independent and and far from profitable.
Even if the founders retain operational control of the company, through disproportionate voting rights etc., the sway of capital will increase. This is unlike Facebook or Alibaba where Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Ma could retain absolute control – these are very profitable companies, while MoBike is definitely not.
Hence what happened at the acquisition. Allegedly Davis even tried to push an investment offer from Didi & Softbank, although investors lost patience and many desperately wanted an easy (and profitable) way out.
Yesterday Davis wrote this on his WeChat:
“Being together is the best love. In the past few years I have owed the family too much…”
He will probably not just stop here, but to venture into something else. Although it won’t be easy to be right in the centre of something as sensational as MoBike again.