The e-hail business in North America just got a little less crowded – London-based Hailo will close its operations in North America, citing increasing price pressure from the leading incumbents, Uber and Lyft. The retreat will mean it closes down in Washington, Chicago, and Boston, but the Toronto and Canadian business is looking to continue operating under license.
“Hailo Toronto remains in operation and will continue to provide service to passengers and drivers,” Toronto operation lead Justin Raymond told me. “A licensing deal is in the works.”
“As it stand, the Toronto team definitely wants it to continue, and we’re committed to that,” Raymond said in an interview. “There just need to be some details worked out with the Hailo parent company to keep it alive and make it thrive in Toronto as it has been.”
Here’s the official statement from Hailo’s corporate head office:
Since launching almost three years ago we have carried over 20 million passengers and are proud to be the highest rated taxi app in many cities. We’re particularly excited about the strength of our business in Europe and in Asia, and the set of new services built on our technology, from Pay with Hailo and Hailo for Business to our plans for a concierge service.
In the next phase of our growth, we have decided to put all of our energy and resources into these areas. We have therefore decided to end our operations in North America, where the astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible.
This has been a difficult decision to make, and we are very sorry for the impact on our colleagues who will leave the company and are doing everything we can to help them with their future careers. We and our investors are confident that our sharpened focus on Europe, Asia and services will help us have the biggest possible impact for our passengers and drivers.
Hailo’s decision to leave the North American market comes as significant management shifts occur at the top of the company – co-founder and CEO Jay Bregman is leaving the business, to focus on a new startup venture related to robotics, the company tells TechCrunch. Tom Barr, former co-CEO, now takes over as sole chief executive for Hailo’s remaining business, which has presence in over 20 cities in Europe and Asia. The company has been more keen to partner with local regulators and existing taxi authorities than its competitors in Uber and Lyft, which may help explain its inability to compete in the aggressive U.S. market.