“The most funded e-bike company in the world.”
That’s what VanMoof called itself after the independent Netherlands-based e-bike company raised a total of $182 million in a less than 2 year span during the pandemic. The bulk of that funding came as the e-bike industry boomed as workers started looking for ways to commute and avoid packed public transit options as COVID-19 continued to spread.
Now, less than 2 years later, the “most funded e-bike company in the world” has gone bankrupt.
According to a statement from VanMoof’s co-founders as first reported by The Verge(opens in a new tab), the court of Amsterdam has officially declared the e-bike company and its Dutch legal entities bankrupt.
“Over the last weeks Ties and I have tried to find a future for VanMoof,” wrote the two brothers, Taco and Ties Carlier, who founded the company in an email sent to staff. “We’re extremely sorry to have to report that despite our best efforts we did not succeed and we have had to file for bankruptcy.”
The bankruptcy was sudden for VanMoof, as it came just one week after a Dutch court ordered(opens in a new tab) a two-month cooling down period for the company after it applied for the suspension of payment provision. The Netherlands provides such an option to companies suffering from financial difficulties in order to protect creditors and give businesses the opportunity to find solutions before filing for bankruptcy. VanMoof’s physical retail stores also shut down at this time.
The Verge reports that trustees have been appointed to the company and the future of VanMoof is currently being assessed. There is a possibility that the company can restart or sell its assets to a third-party without the new entity taking on VanMoof’s debt.
The e-bike industry as a whole, however, continues to grow. Analysts expect(opens in a new tab) the e-bike space to be worth upwards of $90 billion by the end of the decade. So, what happened to VanMoof? One e-bike industry member told TechCrunch that the company focused too much of its funding on marketing. The industry insider also claimed that VanMoof also had inefficient supply chain and unit cost strategies. VanMoof allegedly had large amounts of stock after over-ordering following COVID-induced delays.
The tech industry as a whole has dealt with these same issues regarding the pandemic. Lockdowns, remote work, and other life-altering aspects of the pandemic led consumers to change their lifestyles. Technology that became prevalent during consumers’ new way of life during this time flourished. Social media companies experienced new high levels of traffic. Niche companies that facilitated telecommuting like Zoom quickly became household brand names. Tech giants went on hiring sprees. For example, Meta(opens in a new tab) went from 48,000 employees before the pandemic to 87,000 during the pandemic years.
But, many of these companies didn’t assess for the fact that many of these changes were likely temporary and some aspects of life would resume to how things were before the pandemic.
Earlier this year, Zoom laid off(opens in a new tab) 15 percent of its staff as part of a “reset.” Big tech companies as a whole laid off nearly 200,000 workers in 2022(opens in a new tab) after a boom in hiring and acquisitions during the pandemic.
It appears VanMoof may have suffered from the same tunnel-vision that many of these other companies did during the pandemic. However, VanMoof ended up paying the ultimate price.