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Taking its latest step toward a planned global expansion, BlaBlaCar has bought one of its biggest rivals in Germany to secure its spot as Europe’s leading city-to-city car-sharing service.
BlaBlaCar, based in Paris, announced today that it has acquired Carpooling.com of Munich for an undisclosed sum. The latest deal will allow BlaBlaCar, one of Europe’s hottest startups, to turn more of its attention to Latin America and Asia, according to Nicolas Brusson, cofounder and chief operating officer of BlaBlaCar.
“We’ve seen the service working in so many countries,” Brusson said in an interview. “If we could scale fast enough or acquire companies fast enough, we could expand around the world even faster.”
BlaBlaCar provides a platform for people to arrange carpools between cities. The company says it now has 20 million members (drivers and riders) using the service in 18 markets across Europe and Asia.
Earlier this year, the company launched in India, and it has been making plans to expand the service to Latin America sometime this year. BlaBlaCar raised $100 million in venture capital back in July 2014, which is now fueling its ambitious expansion.
While BlaBlaCar expanded into Germany two years ago, progress against Carpooling.com was slow even as it gained market share. People in Germany had been informally arranging intercity rides on a large scale well before the Internet, and certainly before the rise of the so-called “sharing” economy.
Carpooling.com launched in 2001 to create a formal online mechanism for people to schedule those rides. As such, it’s a well-established name in Germany. Still, Brusson said the two companies were friendly rivals and had been discussing a combination of some kind for months now.
The deal is BlaBlaCar’s largest acquisition to date, Brusson said. The company also announced a smaller deal today to buy Hungary-based Autohop, which also operates in Romania, Serbia, and Croatia.
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