French car-sharing unicorn BlaBlaCar has made two announcements today. Firstly the company has raised $115M (approx €95.75M) in a fresh round of funding. And secondly, it has announced the acquisition of Ukraine-based mobility company Octobus – as part of its plan to foster the digitalisation of bus operators outside of Europe.
Investors in this round
The round saw participation from existing investor VNV Global. And, new investors including; Otiva J/F AB – an investment company created by Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert; founders of Avito (acquired by Naspers for $4B); FMZ Ventures – a new growth fund dedicated to Experience Economy and marketplace ecosystems created by Michael Zeisser, former Chairman Investments at Alibaba Group who served on the boards of both Lyft and Tripadvisor.
Funds for expansion and M&A
BlaBlaCar claims to have witnessed double-digit growth in bookings for carpool and bus compared to pre-crisis levels in markets outside of Europe.
And, this raised capital from the current round will support the platform’s fast growth in these markets. The funds will help the company to seize attractive M&A opportunities to lead the offline to online shift in ground transportation.
Speaking on the development, Nicolas Brusson, co-founder & CEO of BlaBlaCar, says, “The crisis has reshuffled the cards of the game in the mobility space, and we see attractive opportunities to accelerate our ambitions to grow our multimodal offer. The funding, which adds to an already strong balance sheet, will help us lead an offensive strategy as we emerge stronger from an unprecedented year of crisis. We were in a good and safe position before this funding, now we are in a great position to take some risks, play offense, and dream big.”
Founded by Frederic Mazzella, Nicolas Brusson, and Francis Nappez in 2006, Paris-based mobility startup BlaBlaCar is pushing its boundaries further to disrupt the mobility sector in Europe with its carpooling platform.
BlaBlaCar claims to be the world’s leading community-based travel network that enables over 90 million members to share a ride across 22 markets.
The platform leverages technology to fill empty seats on the road, connecting members looking to carpool or to travel by bus, and making travel more affordable, sociable, and convenient.
BlaBlaCar’s environmentally and human-friendly mobility network saves 1.6M tons of CO2 and enables millions of human connections every year.
Why acquire Octobus?
Octobus is a cloud service for managing bus & coach business which maintains sales and distribution, CRM, revenue management, fleet efficiency, and much more. Founded in 2015, the company has developed an Inventory Management System to help digitalise bus supply.
With this acquisition, BlaBlaCar aims to support the digitalisation of bus carriers outside of Europe, where bus operators are still selling most of their tickets offline, and where BlaBlaCar is leading the online transition.
In Europe, the adaptability of carpooling helped BlaBlaCar see a strong business in 2020. And, with this growth, the company aims to double the size of its bus network over the coming 18 months and start expanding its multimodal offer to include trains too.
Back in September 2019, BlaBlaCar had announced plans to acquire Busfor, a leading online bus ticketing platform in Russia and Ukraine to expand its online inventory of third-party bus operators in the region.
Growth in the pandemic
Though the transport sector is still suffering from the impact of the pandemic, BlaBlaCar’s growth outside of Europe represents well over half of its activity. Throughout the pandemic, the company claims that it has managed to offer a travel solution suited according to the limitation of the crisis that has benefited the company from a more agile, fast-adjusting travel network.
The company has gained market share and claims to be well-positioned to respond to evolving travellers’ needs in the post-crisis new norm.
Nicolas Brusson, co-founder & CEO of BlaBlaCar says, “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 zero fixed-costs and flexible network came out as a clear winner. This additional funding strengthens our position and brings more firepower to deploy our offensive growth strategy.”
The company’s carpooling community has over 90 million members travelling by carpool or long-distance buses across 22 markets.
Now, as the vaccination progresses and travel restrictions are lifted, BlaBlaCar sees travel resuming fast, with a preference for safe, local and affordable travel.