German Carpooling.com plans US launch, but is the hearth safe?

Jul 27, 2012
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Carpooling.com logoYesterday, TechCrunch announced that the German Carpooling.com, a ridesharing marketplace, raised $10M to launch in the US — this is about as far as I can get into the article giving full disclosure that I am a HUGE fan of BlaBlaCar, the France-based competitor who raised $10M to spread across Europe earlier this year. Not only was a user of the service before I ever knew it was a French startup, not only do I think the two co-founders have an excellent vision of the marketplace through years of, well, grueling reiteration. Since their last fund-raising, they’ve acquired the Italian ride-sharing leader, launched in Belgium, and are on track to cross the 3 Million registered user mark sometime in August 2012. But enough about them, let’s talk about Carpooling.com.

What does #1 in Europe mean to Carpooling.com?

Having long since proclaimed themselves as the #1 in Europe, Carpooling.com has never quite been as strong in France as BlaBlaCar’s Covoiturage, but that is to be expected, as it is BlaBlaCar’s home turf. Carpooling.com is obviously stronger in Germany than BlaBlaCar; however, BlaBlaCar has yet it officially launch in Germany, so that is to be expected. So let’s assume the two cancel each other out: what major countries remain in terms of population?

Well you’ve got Spain, where Comuto, BlaBlaCar’s Spanish brand, has been strong there for quite some time. According to Alexa, BlaBlaCar.es receives sgnificantly more traffic than carpooling.es, thought that of course doesn’t include mobile usage, with is common for both. AppAnnie’s acount of the Spanish Travel category on the iPhone places Comuto.es at 84th, well  above Carpooling’s 215th place, with Comuto’s average rating and number of ratings being higher than that of Carpooling’s. So I think it’s safe to say that, at least for Spain, BlaBlaCar’s got the win for now.

Over in the UK, Carpooling.co.uk’s traffic loses out to BlaBlaCar.com (the redirect from BlaBlaCar.co.uk), which gets more traffic in the UK than Carpooling (according to Alexa.com). Over on their respective iPhone apps, Carpooling has more ratings, though a lot of those raitings are “1”s (17 out of 36), giving BlaBlaCar a higher average raiting. In terms of positioning, while 500th place isn’t something to brag about for the UK Travel section, BlaBlaCar beats out Carpooling.co.uk, who’s nowhere to be found on the top 1000 ranking. So, for a service who’s revenue and user engagment comes primarily from a website and iPhone app, I’d have to say that BlaBlaCar looks more active in the UK than Carpooling.

Lastly, in Italy, I could not find any data on either of the company’s mobile apps – I imagine that the market isn’t that big, or perhaps it falls under a different name, due to the recent acquisition by BlaBlaCar. Nonetheless, the respective .it websites hold the same trend, with BlaBlaCar.it seeing more traffic than Carpooling.it – not surprising considering Blablacar acquired to enter the country.

Conclusion: Don’t go hunting when your hut is under attack

With BlaBlaCar seeming to outperform Carpooling in every market but Germany, and with BlaBlaCar launching in countries all around Germany, I don’t know if I would be so keen on focussing all of my resources on the US, a marketplace that is already filled wth competitors like ZimRide – oh, and Craigslist. I’d like to state, yet again, that this is an entirely biased article completely based off of opinion – and of course those statistical numbers provided by 3rd party site/app monitoring services.