French ride-sharing giant BlaBlaCar has acquired Less, a Paris-headquartered carpooling app that launched in beta just four months ago. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
BlaBlaCar is one of France’s most heavily funded startups, having raked in more than $330 million since its inception back in 2006 from big-name backers such as Accel and Index Ventures. Its $200 million series D round in 2015 still stands as the highest single funding round by a French startup, giving the company a $1.6 billion valuation. Today, BlaBlaCar claims 60 million members in 22 countries.
Unlike Uber, which focuses on shorter distances, BlaBlaCar is better known as a long-distance carpooling app, though it does also cater to shorter trips via its BlaBlaLines app, which launched in France last May.
Less was founded in 2016 by Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, cofounder of Criteo — a French adtech firm that went public on the Nasdaq back in 2013. Less is basically an urban carpooling app that nestles nicely within BlaBlaLines core business.
Less had raised a whopping $19 million before it launched in December, but the startup does share a common investor with BlaBlaCar in the form of Index Ventures. That a fledgling startup has chosen to sell just months after launch is telling — ride-sharing, carpooling, and the broader ride-hailing app industry are becoming increasingly busy. Why go it alone when you can join forces with an established player?
“Less is conscious of the challenges of creating a scalable marketplace in the mobility space, and anticipating consolidation within the market, the team wanted to combine its forces with an established industry player,” Rudelle said in a statement.
This “consolidation” has been evident elsewhere across the etaxi app realm, with Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing playing key roles in many of the deals that have recently gone down.
Less’ entire employee base will now join BlaBlaCar, and the brand will be discontinued — after all, there would be little point in pushing the Less brand when it has only been in the market for four months. This deal seems like it was as much an acqui-hire as anything else.
“We are delighted to welcome an innovative and talented team that is just as passionate about carpooling as we are,” added BlaBlaCar CEO and cofounder Nicolas Brusson. “Today’s acquisition takes place at a period of real innovation at BlaBlaCar, following the rollout of BlaBlaLines across France.”
Less is BlaBlaCar’s eighth known acquisition, and its first in a couple of years.