French startup BlaBlaCar is announcing plans to acquire Ouibus, the bus division of France’s national railway company SNCF. For the first time, BlaBlaCar is moving beyond carpooling and plans to offer both long-distance carpooling rides and bus rides.
BlaBlaCar already ran a test with Ouibus for the past six months on popular corridors. It looks like both companies are happy with this test, as SNCF is willing to let BlaBlaCar run Ouibus from now on.
As part of this deal, BlaBlaCar is announcing a new $114 million investment (€101 million) from SNCF and existing BlaBlaCar investors. I’d guess that this isn’t just cash but probably cash and shares as part of the move with SNCF. Yes, you read that correctly, SNCF is now an investor in BlaBlaCar.
Ouibus has transported more than 12 million passengers over the past few years in France and Europe. Many thought that buses would hurt BlaBlaCar over the long run. By offering buses on BlaBlaCar directly, the company can capitalize on its brand and huge community to counter that trend. BlaBlaCar is now a marketplace for road travel.
BlaBlaCar is taking a risk, as Ouibus has been relentlessly losing money. Just like other bus companies, Ouibus relies heavily on contractors, which means that BlaBlaCar could quickly adjust the offering. It’ll also depend on product integrations on BlaBlaCar, OUI.sncf and other platforms.
BlaBlaCar currently has 65 million users in 22 countries and is about to reach profitability. And you can expect to find ridesharing offers on OUI.sncf in the coming months.