In an interview with CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Taxify CEO Markus Villig revealed that he sees major potential for the tech unicorn in the European ridesharing and scooter markets.
“Overall if you look at tech in Europe we’re still so much behind the U.S., and in that sense it’s definitely a massive achievement for us as a team that we get this far,” Villig said. “But when you look at the wider transportation space, there’s still room to grow another 100 times from where we are today.”
Founded five years ago in Estonia, Taxify is now the market leader in 11 of the 25 countries where it operates. The company — valued at $1 billion — boasts investors that include German automaker Daimler and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing.
“What most people in the U.S. might not realize is that there's actually a lot of local competition still in the ride-hailing space, and we’ll probably see more deals happen like what happened in Russia, Southeast Asia and China over the past few years,” Villig said.
Taxify has 15 million users and 500,000 drivers worldwide, split evenly between Europe and Africa. In September, it was reported that the company has 2.4 million active users in six African countries including Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana, while Uber has 1.3 million.
“Demand in Africa for ride-hailing services is a lot bigger than in the developed world and Europe because of the lack of public transport and low car ownership,” Villig said at the time. “And due to high unemployment, people look for easy and flexible ways to make money.”
That same month Taxify launched a new brand of e-scooters, dubbed Bolt, via its mobile app in Paris. A spokesperson for the company said that the scooters will also be available in several other European and Australian cities where the app is already in use.
“One in five Taxify rides are less than 3 km, which is the perfect distance to cover with an electric scooter,” Villig said in a statement. “It’s likely that some of our ride-hailing customers will now opt for scooters for shorter distances, but we’ll also attract a whole new group of customers with different needs. This means we’ll be able to help more people with their daily transportation problems.”