French ride-sharing startup Blablacar raises $200 million, expanding globally

PARIS – French startup Blablacar, which hooks up travellers who want to share a car for long-distance trips, announced Thursday it has raised $200 million in new funds from U.S. and other investors as it seeks to ramp up global expansion.

The company is now worth more than $1 billion, according to several newspaper reports, drawing concerns about a new bubble-like frenzy in the tech world. Blablacar hasn’t confirmed that figure.

Paris-based Blablacar said in a statement that the new fundraising — including money from Insight Venture Partners, Lead Edge Capital, and Vostok New Ventures — boosted its investments to more than $300 million.

The company, which started in 2006, says it now has 20 million users in 19 countries, including major European markets as well as Russia, India and Mexico. It’s focusing next on Brazil, other Latin American countries and Asia.

While car services such as Uber have clashed with French authorities over regulatory and tax issues, Blablacar has met less resistance. Its drivers aren’t meant to make profits on the rides, but are meant to share the cost of travel with passengers.

The name refers to how people often talk on long-distance car trips — though the service offers options for travellers who prefer quiet rides.