BlaBlaCar, which enables people to share empty seats in their cars with others looking to go their way, helping both parties to save money on travel, especially on long rides, has concluded its fourth round of venture funding, raising 180 million euros ($200 million).
The fourth round of investment, or "Series D," was led by New York's Insight Venture Partners and Lead Edge Capital, and Sweden's Vostok New Ventures joined in, BlaBlaCar said, in a press release Thursday. The money will be used to boost growth in markets such as Europe, where the company is well established, and a "phenomenal take-off" in new markets such as Brazil, Asia and other markets in Latin America, the French startup said.
The investment values the startup at $1.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing the company.
Since raising $100 million in July 2014, BlaBlaCar has expanded into seven countries, including Turkey, Mexico and India, where cab-hailing is seeing strong demand with Uber battling it out with local marker leader Ola Cabs.
Ride-sharing BlaBlaCar-style is a growing niche in India, where smartphone-toting young professionals are willing to try anything new, including alternative modes of transport. In India, only about two people in 100 own cars.
BlaBlaCar was founded in 2006 by Frédéric Mazzella, who once thought of looking to share rides with people heading his way home in the French countryside, and found no way to do so online.
Today, the ride-share service offers both a computer-based and mobile phone app for people to join the network. A user must declare their identity and enter a full profile. Members can even specify how chatty they are from “Bla” to “BlaBlaBla,” hence the name BlaBlaCar.
The startup claims 20 million members in 19 countries. Including the new funding, the company has raised more than $300 million from firms including early investor ISAI, second-round investor Accel Partners and Index Ventures, which led the third round in July.