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Car-sharing service BlaBlaCar expands into Russia

0 4 February 2014

The French search engine for car-sharing BlaBlaCar has taken over the Ukrainian site Podorozhniki, in order to enter the Russian and Ukrainian market. The cost of the deal has not been disclosed, as was the case with the expansion in Italy and Spain, but the Podorozhniki site is no longer available and all of its accounts have now transferred over to BlaBlaCar.

At the time of the deal there were around 30 thousand users registered on the Ukrainian site, and approximately half of them were living in Russia. This is the fourth time the French company has grown and taken over another large service, but it’s the first time it has done so outside of the European Union.

Podorozhniki was started up in 2010 by IT-specialist Aleksey Lazarenko from Kiev. He graduated from the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics at the National University of Kiev (Taras Shevchenko University), and worked for several large companies such as Samsung Electronics Ukraine and Intel Corporation. Three other graduates of KNU worked with him on the service.

Russian venture investor Arkady Moreynis invested 100 thousand dollars in Podorozhniki in 2011. One of the conditions of his financing the project was that the service would be sold to a larger company at the beginning of 2014.

In an interview with Aleksey Lazarenko said that negotiations had continued for more than half a year which was a tiring process but that he is happy with the outcome and that the team have joined BlaBlaCar and will work together doing what they love and value.

The search tool for travellers is very popular in Europe thanks to the high cost of travel and petrol. The most well-known are the German site Mitfahrgelegenheit (Carpooling in the English version) and the French BlaBlaCar. They offer a social network for drivers and travellers. Drivers register on the site and give details about where and when they are going, how many passengers they are able to take and for what price. Usually it does not cost very much; the driver is not looking to earn money but rather to share the cost of petrol.

It has been estimated that BlaBlaCar earns roughly €1 Million every month from commission rates on the site and whilst there are teams in every market in which BlaBlaCar operates, its main centre is in Paris. BlaBlaCar has been nominated for Best International StartUp in the Crunchies Awards to be held on 10th February this year and has around 6 million people registered to the site which now covers more than 10 countries.

 Top image via Shutterstock

Source: theRunet and Rude Baguette

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