What is BlaBlaCar?
Essentially it’s a ride-sharing service, although the company describes it in slightly grander terms as “the world’s largest long-distance ride sharing community”.
It was initially foundered in 2004 under its former name Covoiturage.fr.
In layman’s terms, BlaBlaCar, like other ride sharing schemes, connects drivers who have space in their car with people looking to travel to the same place but don’t have a vehicle or the money to buy a train ticket.
As with most things these days it comes in the form of an app, that can be downloaded onto your smartphone or accessed via the web.
BlaBlaCar has been dubbed “a hitch-hiker’s app” and it boasts that it has “brought ride-sharing to the mainstream”.
It’s perhaps not surprising that in a time of economic crisis and high unemployment a service that allows both the driver and the passengers to save money has proved incredibly popular.
(A worker in the head offices of BlaBlaCar. Photo: AFP)
Why is it called BlaBlacar?
(The co-founders of BlaBlaCar, no doubt overjoyed to be valued at over $1 billion. Photo: AFP)
BlaBlaCar has three co-founders: the CEO Frédéric Mazzella, COO Nicolas Brusson and the CTO Frances Nappez. Mazzella pictured below) is in charge of defining the vision and evolution of BlaBlaCar, Nappez supervises the technical side of the company and Brusson is in charge of the international expansion of the company.
The story goes that Mazzella came up with the idea for the company when he had to get back from the Vendée region of western France to Paris for New Year’s Eve. He had no car, the trains were full, but most of the cars making the same journey were empty. Not long after BlaBlaCar was born. He used to be a scientific researcher for Nasa and could also have been a professional pianist.
(Founder of BlaBlaCar Frederic Mazzella. Photo: AFP)
For his part Nappaz is a veteran of tech development in the consumer market having worked for Free Iliad and dating site Meetic. Apparently he never gets flustered, but then why would he given the success of the company.
Brusson is a veteran of start-ups in Silicon Valley having worked there during the 2000 boom and he’s also worked as a venture capitalist in London.
All in all a crack team.