Paris-based carpooling site BlaBlaCar expands into Eastern Europe through the acquisition of Podorozhniki, a local player operating in Russia and Ukraine. Local websites www.blablacar.ru and
Founded in 2004 by Nicolas Brusson, Frédéric Mazzella and Francis Nappez, BlaBlaCar is a ride-sharing website that lets the drivers who will travel to a certain destination to decrease their costs by renting out empty seats in their car to paying passengers. It’s a transport marketplace which is actually destined to work well in Europe where even the cheapest public transportation ticket costs several times more than a per-capita gasoline cost on a car ride with, say, 3 people on board.
Already operating in UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Italy and Germany, BlaBlaCar has now above 6 million members and mediates more than a million journeys a month. With the addition of Russian and Ukranian travelers and rising popularity of car sharing in the continent, the figure may well be expected to double this year. As a comparison, BlaBlaCar’s major rival in the market, German Carpooling.com, claims around 1.3 million rides per month.
It’s also worth to note that BlaBlaCar’s new acquisitions will most likely continue playing independent of Paris within their respective geographies, as there are visa/customs barriers on free-travel between EU and Russian/Ukranian locations. Previous acquisitions of the company, the PostoinAuto of Italy for example, were easy to integrate to BlaBlaCar network as Italy is an EU member and traveling between Italian and other EU destinations does not require a visa.
Frédéric Mazzella, BlaBlaCar co-founder and CEO, hinted the exception in the press release, saying they expect BlaBlaCar to quickly become a reflex for smart drivers travelling long distances and an affordable solution for travelling between cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg.
BlaBlaCar co-founder and COO, Nicolas Brusson added that expansion beyond the European Union is significant for BlaBlaCar and they seek for even further global growth. He said ever-rising fuel and train prices will give BlaBlaCar phenomenal adoption across markets.