BlaBlaCar, the Paris-based ride-sharing service, announced today an astonishing funding round of $200 million.
The amount blew past reports last week that the funding round would come in at $160 million.
The money certifies BlaBlaCar’s status as one of Europe’s hottest startups. It’s also a massive boost to a French Tech scene that has been gaining momentum, but is still looking for some high-profile successes.
BlaBlaCar, founded in 2006, is now valued at $1.6 billion. Having grown to cover much of Europe, the company has been expanding into markets such as Russia, Turkey and India.
“It has been exhilarating to see our vision resonate with so many people globally, as BlaBlaCar’s community has rapidly scaled and flourished in every new market,” said BlaBlaCar founder and chief executive Frédéric Mazzella, in a press release. “We’ve built a unique activity based on the values of true sharing, and this funding will help unleash even more of its potential over the coming years.”
BlaBlaCar says it has more than 20 million members in 19 countries. The company has no immediate plans to enter the U.S. market. In an interview with the New York Times, however, one executive hinted strongly that such a move could be in the company’s future, thanks to the latest funding.
This new round comes just over a year after BlaBlaCar raised $100 million to fuel its expansion outside of Europe, where it has become hugely popular. It tops the $115 million raised by Sigfox, a French IoT company based near Toulouse, that previously held the current French VC record.
BlaBlaCar focuses on ride-sharing over longer distances between cities, rather than local short-haul rides like those covered by Uber and Lyft.
A BlaBlaCar driver who is planning a trip offers space in their car to other passengers for a fee. Because those fees technically help cover the cost of a ride the driver already plans to make (rather than generating a profit), BlaBlaCar has avoided the regulatory headaches that have confronted Uber in Europe.