The battle for supremacy in the world of taxi-apps ramped up again yesterday as Hailo it will be merging with the MyTaxi app. The move comes after a strategic investment by giants of the motor industry, Daimler who can now claim to own a significant stake in Europe’s leading e-hailing business.
Sky News announced that Hailo will become part of the Mercedes Benz-owner’s portfolio as it gears up to confront Uber, the world’s most valuable taxi-hailing app.
The 24 hour news outlet states that Hailo has been seeking a strategic investor for some time. The firm that launched five years ago will now have the backing of one of the car industry’s largest manufacturers.
Existing share holders already include a number of big players in the technology sector such as: Sir Richard Branson, Wellington Partners and Accel. Hailo had already raised (approximately) $100 million in capital investment since its launch in 2011 and recently benefited from the backing of a group of unnamed Asian investors which was aimed at accelerating growth.
However, Hailo’s fund raising has been dwarfed by the billions of dollars that Uber has raised globally. The US firm dominates its home market, where Hailo struggled before exiting, but it has been met with hostility in a number of major markets due to its approach to regulation and taxation.
Hailo was one of the original and most successful taxi apps to hit the London market.
It was launched by black cab drivers exclusively for black cab drivers but fell afoul of politics within the trade. The owners caused controversy after seeking to also employ the services of private hire drivers. This was met with anger by London black cab drivers who felt betrayed.
Hailo counter argued that they had been forced to widen the driver pool as they’d been unable to service demand for their app as London black cab drivers were slow to adopt the new technology. After a turbulent period the owners made amends with the cab trade and focused on targeting the acquisition of large business accounts.
Somewhat ironically the firm recently took part in a “Back to Black” campaign aimed at encouraging Londoners to utilise the services of the traditional London black cab. The advert amended the lyrics to the song of the same name, made famous by Amy Winehouse, and played on the fact passengers of London black cabs benefit from: being able to street hail cabs, their cab drivers will have completed the extensive knowledge of London training and have the access to bus lanes as well as the ability to carry disabled passengers. Amy’s father, Mitch Winehouse, himself a black cab driver, gave permission for it to be used.
MyTaxi which claims to be Europe’s leading taxi-booking app was purchased by Daimler in 2014. The company already held a stake in its owner, Intelligent Apps. The merger with Hailo will further strengthen their international presence as Hailo performs well in the Japanese, Irish, Spanish and Portuguese markets.
UK General Manager of Hailo, Andy Jones announced confidently via an email entitled “Hailo and Mytaxi join forces” that was sent to the app’s users, that over 3 million customers they will now be able to, “Hail one of 100,000+ taxis in 50+ cities across 9 countries.” He also declared their intention is to expand into more cities across Europe. Their website’s Question & Answers page informs readers that the plan is for the Hailo brand and technology to be merged into the MyTaxi platform by 2017.
The purchase is another indication that major car firms are targeting growth via new distribution models. Volkswagen recently bought a $300m stake in Israeli based taxi app Gett. The purchase of Hailo tallies nicely for Mercedes in London as their Vito model is one of the few vehicles currently eligible to be used by the app’s fleet of taxi cab drivers.
Hailo have informed customers and drivers that in the short-term there will be no alteration to the way that they use either the Hailo or Mytaxi apps.
Jones reassured anxious cabbies that by becoming the largest taxi hailing app in Europe there will be more potential to grow job numbers. Probably most importantly for Hailo’s London taxi cab drivers it is not going to become a private hire service. He stated “We remain 100% committed to licensed taxis.”
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