Taxify, one of Uber’s biggest rivals in Europe and Africa in the ridesharing space, has announced its entry into the unicorn club with $175 million in fresh funding. The funding round, led by German automaker Daimler, valued the Estonia-based startup at $1 billion and also saw participation from fresh investors Korelya Capital and Transferwise founder Taavet Hinrikus, as well as existing investors including Didi Chuxing. The latest round of funding brings Taxify’s total funding to date to $177.2 million, according to CrunchBase.
In a statement, Taxify Co-founder and CEO Markus Villig said, “We’re on a mission to build the future of mobility, and it’s great to have the support of investors like Daimler and Didi...This is just the beginning as more and more people give up on car ownership and opt for on-demand transportation.” Markus and his brother Martin co-founded Taxify in Estonia in 2013 with a vision for a local service, but the platform has steadily grown in popularity, currently present in over 25 countries, chiefly in Europe and Africa. Markus says that the company employs more than 500,000 drivers across its markets, and has over 10 million users, adding that the platform’s ride volumes have risen ten-fold in the last year alone.
Taxify previously raised an undisclosed eight-figure amount in funding from Chinese company Didi Chuxing in August last year. Before that, it had raised about $2.1 million in three seed rounds in April and December 2014, as well as March 2016. The company has long maintained that it’s perfectly comfortable being a second mover, choosing to enter markets where giants like Uber have already established the viability of ridesharing.
In an interview to Bloomberg in September 2017, Markus said, “We go into markets where ride-sharing is already a proven concept…We come in and we improve on that by having just cheaper commissions and giving more back to the riders and drivers. We don’t want to get into this regulatory troubles and be wasting millions in lobby battles.”
The Taxify investment – which will give Daimler a seat on the startup’s board – is the latest in a series of investments by the automaker in the ridesharing space, including the acquisition of car-sharing businesses Flinc and car2Go in September 2017 and March 2018 respectively, as well as investments in carpooling firms Via and Turo in September last year. The car manufacturer also signed an agreement with fellow German automobile company BMW earlier this year to merge the two firms’ mobility service businesses, including parking apps, charging solutions, ride-hailing, and more.
Didi’s decision to invest further in Taxify is also hardly surprising, given the Chinese giant’s history of backing Uber rivals around the world with capital and mentorship. Didi has previously invested in Ola in India, Lyft in the USA, Grab in Southeast Asia, Careem in the Middle East, and 99 in Brazil, which the firm acquired in January 2018 in its first major global expansion.
Taxify says it plans to use the proceeds of the new fundraising to develop its technology and expand further in Europe and Africa. The Villig brothers have big plans for the future, as Markus revealed in a Bloomberg interview, “There is a huge opportunity here, and we are going after growth...As we continue to expand, we will need to raise more capital – but we haven’t decided whether that would be through an IPO or private fund raise[sic].” Uber had better watch out in Europe, because Taxify is gunning for the top, and it means business.