The path to a more reliable and efficient Citi Bike got a bit more complicated this afternoon.
A bankruptcy court judge in Montreal has rejected a bid from REQX Ventures, formed by real estate giant Related Companies and its Equinox Fitness unit, for the international operations of the Public Bike System Company, also known as Bixi. The judge said the REQX bid, while higher than the winning bid, came too late and didn’t meet the required deposit.
Bixi, which developed much of the hardware and the buggy software behind Citi Bike, filed for bankruptcy in January. Had the REQX bid been accepted, a logical next step would have been for the company to also invest in Citi Bike operator Alta Bicycle Share, injecting some much needed capital into a bike-share system that needs better software and smoother operations.
Instead, Bixi will be purchased by Bruno Rodi, a Montreal businessman who owns a furniture company. Rodi, known for his world travels, rode his bicycle along the 2,100-mile Tour de France route in 2007. It remains unclear what he will do with Bixi. He could try to resell the company, which he bought for $4 million — about $1 million less than the REQX bid — or turn it around somehow. Bixi’s most valuable assets at this point are likely the patents it holds with respect to the design of bike-share bikes and other hardware.
Rodi was not in court today (he was on a boat on the Indian Ocean), and his lawyers did not talk to reporters after the judge’s ruling. REQX representative Jonathan Schulhof also refused to speak with reporters.