French carpooling platform BlaBlaCar has raised $115 million to fuel expansion outside of Europe and prepare for a travel rebound on the continent.
Participating investors in the round include existing investor VNV Global as well as new investors Otiva J/F AB, which is an investment company created by Avitao founders Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert, and FMZ Ventures, a new growth fund created by Michael Zeisser, who served on the boards of Lyft and Tripadvisor.
Despite the pandemic’s impact on the travel and mobility sectors, BlaBlaCar says it has witnessed double-digit growth in its markets outside of Europe and is expecting a strong travel rebound in Europe this summer.
Founded in 2006, BlaBlaCar has more than 90 million members that travel by carpool or long-distance buses across 22 markets.
Markets outside of Europe represent more than half of the platform’s activity, and BlaBlaCar will use the new funding to support growth and pursue M&A opportunities in those regions.
To that end, BlaBlaCar has announced its acquisition of Ukrainian company Octobus as part of its plans to digitize bus operations outside of Europe.
Founded in 2014, Octobus is a cloud-based inventory management system for bus and coach operators.
Meanwhile, in Europe, BlaBlaCar will use the new funding to double the size of its bus network over the next 18 months. The company also has plans to add trains to its multimodal offerings.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been a real test on the resilience of various models in the travel sector. The BlaBlaCar community-based model with a zero fixed-costs and flexible network came out as a clear winner,” says Nicolas Brusson, co-founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar.
“This additional funding strengthens our position and brings more firepower to deploy our offensive growth strategy.”
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Says Per Brilioth, CEO of VNV Global: “BlaBlaCar is to transport what Airbnb is to accommodation. It’s the only global mobility marketplace benefitting from a unique and unreplicable source of supply, incredibly high community engagement and a strong brand. As investors since 2015, we’re excited to top-up our commitment to support BlaBlaCar in further reshaping the mobility landscape.”
In 2018, BlaBlaCar raised €101 million in funding led by French rail operator SNCF. “We want to become the go-to platform for shared road travel and will focus our energy on building a combined carpooling and bus network,” Brusson explained to PhocusWire following the round.
Read more from Brusson’s In The Big Chair interview here, and listen to Brusson on the How I Got Here podcast below.
How I Got Here, episode 41 - Nicolas Brusson of BlaBlaCar