We have had fun watching the rollercoaster ride of Chinese group buy clone Tuanbao — also known as Groupon.cn — but it appears that rollercoaster may finally be chugging into the platform and expelling its dazed passengers back onto the fairgrounds. That’s right, rumor has it Tuanbao is bankrupt. And although CEO Ren Chunlei still owes significant debts, he’s apparently planning a second startup.
This is just a rumor, but it’s not exactly hard to believe. Ren recently re-launched TuanBao as a group buy site with exclusively free offers, so the site hasn’t had any money coming in. Last we knew, Mr. Ren was searching for investment to offset this, but he was also talking crap about his old investors and saying things like “investment is poison” so it isn’t a stretch to imagine he might have failed to attract investors. And as for his reported plans to start a new startup as soon as Tuanbao goes bankrupt, well, that’s exactly what he’s said he will do if Tuanbao goes bankrupt.
Of course, Tuanbao still has significant debts to vendors and creditors. This apparently doesn’t faze Ren Chunlei, who hopes to wipe the slate clean with a bankruptcy declaration and then start the whole thing all over again.
The upside of all this is that if you want to work for a crazy person, apparently Mr. Ren is hiring. According to people close to him, the “new Tuanbao” is already looking for editors, designers, customer service staff, and more. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I sort of hope Ren does get his new startup off the ground. The rise and fall of Tuanbao has been entertaining, and even if it’s dragged his name through the mud, Ren Chunlei wants to get right back on the rollercoaster.
[Beijing Business Times via Sina Tech]