Tech unicorn Taxify is chipping away at Uber’s dominance in the European ride-hailing market – and its CEO predicts massive growth ahead.
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The Estonian ride-hailing company valued at $1 billion has 15 million users and 500,000 drivers worldwide, split evenly between Europe and Africa. In an interview with CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this week, Taxify CEO Markus Villig said he sees big potential in the European ride-sharing 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.”
Twenty-four-year-old Villig founded Taxify five years ago in Tallinn, Estonia. The company said it is now the market leader in 11 of the 25 countries where it operates. It has raised capital from investors including 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 launched an electric scooter service in Paris in September that uses the same app for scooter and ride sharing. Villig reported “tens of thousands of trips” on the scooters each day, with 40 percent of rides done by existing Taxify users.
Scooter sharing has met backlash in cities around the world due to a lack of regulation and safety concerns. Villig said many European cities are “taking their time” before they allow new entrants in both the scooter and ride-hailing markets, adding Taxify is focused on the “long-game” when it comes to securing regulatory approvals.
Competitor Uber has been embroiled in a legal battle with the city of London after the city’s regulatory agency removed its license citing safety concerns. A judge overturned the ban in July, granting Uber a 15-month license with some conditions.
“We need to work together with cities and not just barge in before we have any agreement that it’s allowed,” Villig said.