Ride-sharing platform BlaBlaCar secures $108 million in debt line after achieving profitability | TechCrunch

Bra cart is an iconic name in the French startup ecosystem. This ridesharing and bus ticketing company has been around for so long that it’s hard to think of it as a startup anymore. Still, BlaBlaCar is a very interesting company today because of its unique trajectory.

what started as A scrappy online hitchhiking community Become a startup Upregulate hundreds of millions, reaching unicorn status, then expanding to many countries on several continents, and then Withdraw your hands its ambitions and begins Consider profitability.

Today, the company announced the receipt of a €100 million revolving credit facility ($108 million at today’s exchange rates). This will provide it with new capital to plan for the future and continue to drive growth, including through acquisitions.

“Debt is a relatively attractive, non-dilutive and super flexible instrument,” Brunson told us. Several major banks in France, the UK and the US have secured €100m credit lines

BlaBlaCar currently doesn’t pay any interest because it hasn’t drawn on its debt facility. But Brusson said it plans to use the debt financing to acquire smaller companies. With many new startups struggling due to their inability to raise their next round of funding, BlaBlaCar will be able to step in and acquire these smaller companies.

Profit over the past 24 months

While BlaBlaCar isn’t a public company, it’s slowly coming to terms with the fact that it can share some metrics more publicly. In this way, BlaBlaCar can reveal for the first time that it is profitable – in fact, it has been profitable since April 2022.

Just like 2023, the arrival of this milestone is sure to bring huge relief a challenging year For French startups – if you work on artificial intelligence products, of course.

“The entire business is profitable. We’ve been profitable for almost two years,” co-founder and CEO Nicolas Brusson told TechCrunch. “2022 is the first year after COVID-19 that we’ve been profitable almost for a full year.” year, except for the first two months. We recorded revenue of €195 million. We’re basically slightly negative this year, but that’s really because we had a really bad first quarter. “

“But starting in the second quarter of 2022, we started to be profitable. Then, in 2023, our revenue jumped to over 250 million euros. So our revenue growth was just under 30%, and we are still profitable. picture.”

Profitability can mean different things to different people.Many companies like to claim they are profitable even though they are talking about profitability Interest, tax, depreciation and amortization advance profit – A financial measure that does not take into account the costs associated with a company’s assets. Brunson is a little tired of companies pretending to be profitable but actually losing money every year.

In the case of BlaBlaCar, the company has been profitable on an EBITDA basis, but it also generates a net profit if all factors are taken into account – and BlaBlaCar does not own any cars or buses anyway.

In 2023, 80 million passengers booked a bus or shared a ride on BlaBlaCar. The good news is that BlaBlaCar users are found all over the world, not just in France.

“Brazil is bigger than France in terms of number of users. I think India will have more ridesharing than France next year,” Brunson said.

The company hasn’t started monetizing users in India, Brazil, Mexico or Turkey yet — and it won’t be making any cuts on ridesharing deals. It will gradually increase booking fees, which will also help increase the company’s revenue.

One of the problems is Russia. When the war in Ukraine broke out, BlaBlaCar had millions of users in Russia. While many tech companies decide to sell off their Russian subsidiaries, BlaBlaCar’s Russian activities have been completely isolated from the rest of its business, but BlaBlaCar has no plans to do so. Brunson believes this would be counterproductive because it would essentially mean giving it to a Russian owner.

“Today it accounts for less than 5% of revenue, so it’s quite small. It’s still part of the group but completely independent and independently managed… The company is completely separate from the group. But if you want to sell it, it’s In the current situation, it’s like giving it up.”

Add new train ticket

In Europe, BlaBlaCar hopes to aggregate all modes of ground transportation. In addition to ride-sharing and bus rides, the company also plans to add train tickets, which users will be able to purchase at some point in the next year or so.

“The idea is to combine it with ride-sharing. So we can offer train-and-ride-sharing travel — almost door-to-door,” Brunson said.

Even if you’re not booking your next train ride on BlaBlaCar, the company is experimenting with last-mile ride sharing. “In this case we have a different model with slightly shorter distances. The idea is to connect the train station with your destination. “Normally, if you arrive at Varnes station, you usually need to go to Grandma Home, holiday home, weekend getaway. You still have 10 to 40 kilometers to go,” he points out.

Since there are already many BlaBlaCar users traveling in that direction, the company will ping those drivers to see if they can pick up a group of people at the train station and take them to their destination.

In non-European markets, taking the bus represents the greatest opportunity. “The good news for us in these markets is that busing is still a very offline and fragmented industry,” Brunson said, noting that in India, where people spend billions of dollars on bus fares, and in Brazil – Once again, it shows that BlaBlaCar still has room to grow.

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