Published On: Thu, Sep 17th, 2015

BlaBlaCar Joins European Billionaire Startup Club

BlaBlaCar Founders

Left to right, Frédéric Mazzella, CEO, Francis Nappez, CTO, Nicolas Brusson, COO.

Paris based ride-sharing firm BlaBlaCar has just closed a new round of venture-capital funding valuing the company at $1.5 billion.

The firms application which brokers long-distance carpooling between car owners and passengers raised €180 million ($200 million) when the round closed in July following funding from three venture-capital firms in the U.S. and Europe.

BlaBlaCar currently has nearly 20 million users across three continents and plans on following in the footsteps of other tech companies such as Uber and Airbnb expanding its international operations. The company’s Chief Operation Officer, Nicolas Brusson said “there is a huge play in emerging markets,” as the company plans to expand into Latin America and Asia.

Mr. Brusson said that the new locations they launched in last year prove that its model is working however they must acquire a sufficient number of members in a country, which he estimates at as many as a million to ensure there are enough rides available to make the service useful and for their base to grow. He said after this point it is hard for other competitors to gain traction hence it is key for BlaBlaCar to invest in its user base now to grow in as many markets as possible. “It’s pretty critical to get to that scale early on,” he said. “There is an urgency to launch markets and lock markets.”

In comparison to other parts of the world Europe has lagged behind in the big startup scene however the recent fundraising is a sign of growing activity. BlaBlaCar now joins music-streaming firm Spotify from Sweden, restaurant-delivery platform Delivery Hero based in Berlin among the dozen or so private, venture-backed firms in Europe which are valued more than $1 billion out of more than 117 other companies globally.

The company was founded in 2006 by Frédéric Mazzella (CEO), Nicolas Brusson (COO), and Francis Nappez (CTO) now operates in 19 countries and has a user base of over 20 million users. The company first started when Mazzella was unable to book a train to go back home from Paris to western France during Christmas. Himself and the founders then built the platform which connects passengers with drivers allowing them to share the costs of long-distance rides.

BlaBlaCars name is based on its service that offers users to state how chatty they are on their profiles—between Bla and BlaBlaBla. Users are able to search the site for rides between two cities which shows prices and times available. BlaBlaCar makes its money by brokering payments and taking a cut.

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