BlaBlaCar Is Raising $160 Million From Insight, Valuing Ride-Sharing Startup At $1.2 Billion

A little more than a year after announcing a $100 million mega-round, we’re hearing from multiple sources that long-distance ride-sharing platform BlaBlaCar is in the process of raising another round with Insight Venture Partners. TechCrunch has learned that the French startup is raising $160 million at a post-money valuation of $1.2 billion.

Insight Venture Partners is leading the round with a significant syndicate of business angels. This Series D round values the company above $1 billion for the first time. A source said that the deal has already closed.

Existing investors include Index Ventures, Accel Partners, ISAI and Lead Edge Capital. It seems like they are not involved in this new round.

As a reminder, BlaBlaCar is a marketplace where you can find a driver who is driving from one city to another and book a seat in advance. It connects people with empty seats with riders. Drivers can make a bit of money while riders can travel for cheap. Like Airbnb, the company takes a small cut on every ride (currently around 15-20 percent).

BlaBlaCar also has a significant network effect. The more people use it, the more rides you will find even at the last minute, and even if you are going from a tiny city to another tiny city. It is sometimes much more effective and cheaper than a train ride.

Last year when the company announced its previous round of funding, BlaBlaCar operated in 12 countries and had 8 million members. It is now available in 17 countries, including in non-European countries, such as India and Mexico. The company also acquired its biggest competitor and its 6 million members.

As BlaBlaCar needs to tweak its model a bit for every country and comply with local regulators, it has many local offices focused on a particular market in Madrid, Milan, Warsaw, Hamburg, London, Moscow, Istanbul, New Delhi, Budapest and Mexico DF. That’s why the company needs a lot of cash to fuel its aggressive expansion strategy.

While Uber encountered a few bumps along the road in France, BlaBlaCar doesn’t face any legal issue as it promotes a revenue sharing model, and not a profit-seeking model — it’s like asking for your friends to chip in for gas. A 200-mile ride costs $25 on average.

India is obviously a big potential as trains are slow and it is one of the most densely populated area in the world, but the company has been around for much longer in Europe — and BlaBlaCar is still beating all its key performance indicators in Europe. Growth in France, which the team considered as a mature market, is still accelerating. And then, there is the U.S.

Every time I’ve asked about a potential expansion to the U.S., the company has given me the same answer with multiple reasons why it doesn’t make sense to go the U.S. — gas is cheap, and cities are too big and too far away from each other. But maybe this new round will make the company change its mind.