(Bloomberg) -- European ride-hailing company Taxify OU has been catapulted into the legion of unicorns with a $1 billion valuation after raising funds from a group of investors led by Germany’s Daimler AG.
Taxify secured $175 million from European venture capital fund Korelya Capital, TransferWise Ltd. co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and a number of existing investors including Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing in the latest round, according to a statement Wednesday. A representative of Daimler will also join its board.
The funds will be used to develop its technology and improve operations in its home markets in Europe and Africa, the company said. Started in Estonia in 2013 by Chief Executive Officer Markus Villig -- who was then 19 years old -- Taxify now has more than 10 million passengers in over 25 countries. The number of rides that employed Taxify grew 10-fold last year, according to the founder.
“There is a huge opportunity here, and we are going after growth,” Villig, who created the first version of the platform by borrowing college money from his parents, said in an interview. “As we continue to expand, we will need to raise more capital -- but we haven’t decided whether that would be through an IPO or private fund raise.”
The investment adds to Daimler’s portfolio of European mobility-services and technology companies, which have almost 22 million customers already. Didi Chuxing in August agreed to invest in and collaborate with Taxify, which had raised about 2 million euros from venture capitalists.
Uber Technologies Inc.’s rivals -- including Taxify, MyTaxi, Lyft Inc. and Ola -- are stepping up the battle for ride-sharing dominance in Europe, with local startups raising funds and global adversaries starting to lobby local regulators as they seek to gain a toehold in the region. Much of the perceived opportunity stems from the companies’ recent conflicts with regulators in the region: Both Uber and Taxify are appealing Transport for London’s surprise decision in September to ban the apps on safety and regulatory concerns.
Taxify is in ongoing negotiations with regulators in the U.K., and hopes to restart operations -- which were shut down within a week of being launched in London -- before the end of the year, Villig said.
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