You might not have heard of BlaBlaCar until now, but chances are you’ll be hearing much more about it in the future. That’s because the French ridesharing company has reportedly entered the elite group of unicorns, or startups worth more than a billion dollars.
TechCrunch reported today that BlaBlaCar has raised $160 million from the venture-capital firm Insight Venture Partners. The raise values the Paris-headquartered ridesharing startup at $1.2 billion, according to the outlet.
BlaBlaCar says it is in talks with investors, but declined to confirm the report.
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Prior to the latest round, BlaBlaCar had already raised $270 million in venture capital, according to the funding database CrunchBase.
As the company grows, here are three key ways it differs from San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant Uber.
1. BlaBlaCar is an Amtrak alternative, not a taxi alternative. BlaBlaCar connects drivers traveling from one city to another with travelers headed the same way. It does not serve customers looking to travel a few miles within a city. The average BlaBlaCar ride is about 213 miles.
2. BlaBlaCar does not operate in the U.S. The Paris-based transportation company is available all over Europe, in Mexico and in Russia, but it does not operate in the U.S.
Why? Thus far, BlaBlaCar has said that the price of gas in the U.S. is not high enough to motivate consumers to look aggressively for travel alternatives to driving. Also, in Europe, many cities offer a widespread public transit system that can take customers on the first and last mile of their journey (i.e. - a BlaBlaCar rider in London could hop on the tube to meet a BlaBlaCar driver on the opposite end of the city before they travel together). In many places in the U.S., outside of cities such as New York or D.C., the public transportation situation is either less efficient or less affordable.
3. BlaBlaCar drivers do not profit off of riders. The BlaBlaCar technology platform connects drivers and riders headed in the same direction and allows riders to pay drivers enough to cover reasonable expenses, like gas and automobile wear and tear. The ridesharing platform does not let drivers make a profit off of its passengers. BlaBlaCar makes money by collecting a transaction fee, approximately 10 percent of the total cost of a ride.
The revenue-sharing business model has kept BlaBlaCar out of a lot of the trouble with regulators that has given Uber significant stress.