“The model we have was to create a massive European footprint, and then a massive global footprint,” and later to make money from it, said Mr. Brusson, the company’s chief operating officer.And Uber, Lyft and Sidecar were taken.
BlaBlaCar was originally called covoiturage.fr—simply the French word for “carpooling”—but its founders changed the name to BlaBlaCar to ease international expansion with a non-French brand they could own.
The name stems from the realization that in-car chattiness was an important part of the experience. The company requires users to create a profile describing their car and a series of personal characteristics such as tolerance to pets, smoking habits and the gift of the gab, from “Bla” to “BlaBla” to “BlaBlaBla.”
“Drivers’ profiles are usually very exhaustive so you can choose people you feel will be a good fit,” said Clément Gardette, 25, who regularly uses BlaBlaCar as a passenger and driver.La discrimination, quelle horreur!
The startup has sought to walk a finer regulatory line than some of its peers. Because it keeps fees so low that drivers are sharing costs rather than making profit, the company argues it is quite different from a company like Uber, which also uses some nonprofessional drivers and bills itself as “ride-sharing.”Well, in France you need some ingenuity to get around the regulations. Of course, this wouldn't be possible without the predictability of l'etat;
BlaBlaCar’s ascent has come partly on the back of a deteriorating public-transport system across the continent. Europe’s prolonged economic stagnation is depriving many governments of the ability to maintain, let alone broaden, transport networks. France’s national audit office has urged the SNCF to stop building new high-speed tracks because many existing lines generate losses. Germany, known for its superfast trains, is struggling with aging fleets and tracks. In Portugal, the government recently had to shelve plans to build new bullet-train connections.