Carpooling Marketplace Blablacar Acquires PostoinAuto To Drive Into Italy

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Back in January BlablaCar, a European carpooling marketplace that connects any driver who has empty seats with paying passengers, raised $10 million in funding from Accel Partners and existing investors, taking it to $12.5 million. And today the startup is putting those funds to good use, rolling up other players. It’s acquiring PostoinAuto.it, the largest car sharing site in Italy, in an all-share deal. BlablaCar’s move into Italy follows a push into Spain and the UK.

Just over half of BlaBlaCar’s 1.7 million member community have started using the service in the last year, equating to 350,000 passenger journeys every month. It offers about one million empty seats every month, and has 400,000 drivers among its members. Trips posted range from long distance trips across Europe to daily commutes. The acquisition of PostoinAutom, founded in 2010, adds 30,000 empty seats every month. PostoinAuto Founder Olivier Bremer and team now joins BlablaCar.

Blablacar is going up against Munich-based Carpooling.com which claims to move over 1 million people each month in 5,000 cities and 45 countries across Europe. Carpooling is backed by Earlybird Venture Capital. Carpooling says it has 3.6m registered users (registration is optional) and aims to move into the US this year.

Nicolas Brusson, Co-founder of BlablaCar, says PostoinAuto were “an ideal fit, in terms of culture, attitude and vision and we are looking forward to work together to create a truly European leader in this space. We expect to reach our second billion miles shared within the year.”

Brusson says the UK is still a nascent community “but growing faster” than France and Spain as people pick up on the idea of car sharing.

Every passenger and driver has to register with the site with a valid phone number and other information. Members with negative ratings are blacklisted.

Key to this is the aggregation of peer-to-peer ratings to build trust amongst drivers – thus avoiding the odd axe murder…

Drivers can publish their trips and contact other members who are making the same trip as as potential passengers by sending them a message or calling them directly by telephone. Passengers can search the site and contact a driver who has published a trip that interests them. The service is free but drivers can charge a fixed price per passenger, the average is €20 per ride. Passengers pay via BlablaCar or directly in the car.

BlablaCar is similar GoCarShare in the UK, and to U.S.-based startup Ridejoy and ZimRide, which also aims to be a carpooling marketplace.