A well-known brand in the French startup scene is BlaBlaCar. It is difficult to think of the carpooling and bus ticketing company as a startup anymore because it has been in operation for such a long time. Nevertheless, BlaBlaCar’s distinct history makes it a very fascinating firm today.

What was once a tenacious online hitchhiking group blossomed into a unicorn-status firm that raised hundreds of millions of dollars. After that, it spread to other nations on several continents before lowering its goals and turning its attention to profitability.

The business is announcing today that it has obtained a €100 million revolving credit facility, or $108 million using the current currency rate. This will provide it with fresh capital to strategize for the future and maintain its growth trajectory, which may involve acquisitions.

According to Brusson, “debt is a tool that’s super flexible, non-dilutive, and relatively attractive.” The €100 million credit line is held by multiple major French, British, and American institutions.

Since BlaBlaCar hasn’t yet reached its debt limit, it isn’t now paying interest. Brusson, nevertheless, stated that he intended to use that loan capacity to buy out smaller businesses. Since a lot of startups are having trouble raising capital for their next round of funding, BlaBlaCar will be able to intervene and buy these lesser companies

profitable for the previous two years
BlaBlaCar is not a publicly traded firm, but it is gradually coming to terms with the idea that it can disclose some numbers to the public. In this manner, BlaBlaCar will be able to declare for the first time that it has turned a profit; in actuality, it has been doing so since April 2022.

The achievement must be greatly relieving, given 2023 has shown to be a difficult year for French companies — unless, of course, you are involved in the development of artificial intelligence products.

“The company is profitable overall. Our company has turned a profit for nearly two years,” co-founder and CEO Nicolas Brusson said to TechCrunch. Except for maybe the first two months, 2022 was the first nearly whole year following COVID. Our revenue was €195 million. And we were essentially in the negative for for the year, although that was primarily due to a terrible first quarter.

However, as of Q2 2022, we have turned a profit. Our revenue then skyrocketed to nearly €250 million in 2023. Thus, even though our top line growth is little less than30%, we are still profitable.

To others, the term “profitable” can indicate several things. Numerous businesses want to assert their profitability despite the fact that they are referring to EBITDA, a financial indicator that ignores the expenses related to their assets. Furthermore, Brusson has grown a little weary of businesses that feign profitability while perpetually losing money.

Since BlaBlaCar doesn’t really own any vehicles or buses, the company has been profitable both on an EBITDA basis and when total profits are taken into consideration.

 

Eighty million people used BlaBlaCar to schedule a bus or carpool journey in 2023. The good news is that BlaBlaCar users are not limited to France; they are found all over the world.

The number of users in Brazil surpasses that of France. Furthermore, I believe that next year, India will surpass France in terms of the quantity of carpool rides,” Brusson stated.

The company does not receive a cut from carpooling transactions; it has not yet begun to monetize its users in Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, or India. It will gradually increase booking fees, which will aid in increasing the business’s earnings.

Russia is one kink. Millions of Russians were using BlaBlaCar when the conflict in Ukraine broke out. Although a number of tech businesses have chosen to divest their Russian subsidiaries, BlaBlaCar has kept its Russian operations fully apart from the rest of the company and has no plans to sell them. According to Brusson, this would be ineffective because it would effectively mean handing it over to the owner, who is based in Russia.

It’s relatively small now, accounting for less than 5% of total revenue. Although it is totally isolated and run separately, it is nevertheless a member of the organisation. The business is completely separated from the collective. However, given the present situation, selling it would be equivalent to giving it away.

Including train passes

BlaBlaCar aims to compile all of the

techniques for ground transportation. The startup intends to offer rail tickets in addition to carpooling and bus rides. It will be possible for users to purchase tickets within the next year or so.

Even if you choose not to use BlaBlaCar to reserve your next train ticket, the company is testing last-mile carpooling as well. For somewhat shorter distances, we have an alternative model in that scenario. Linking rail stations to your destination is the idea. You usually need to get to your grandmother’s house, your vacation house, or your weekend break if you arrive at Vannes Station. There are still 10 to 40 kilometres to go,” he said.

The company will ping the numerous BlaBlaCar users who are now travelling in that route to inquire if they are able to pick up a group of individuals at the train station and drop them off at their destination.

In markets outside of Europe, bus travel has the most potential.

The bus sector is still very fragmented and offline, which is fantastic news for us in these areas, according to Brusson. He cited the fact that bus tickets in Brazil and India are purchased for billions of dollars, indicating that there is still potential for BlaBlaCar to expand.

 

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