Drivy, C’est Fini : SF Cash Machine Eats French Carsharing Company

These two carsharing companies just got married, and guess who’s going to take the other’s name ? Drivy, the Paris-based company who developped a successful sharing system where people rent their car to others for a weekend trip, or any other reason, will be renamed Getaround, after the acquisition by the Californian firm for 300 million dollars. The deal is done both in cash and equity exchange (meaning one part of the total will consist of paying Drivy’s shareholders in Getaround’s shares), said a PR person at Drivy.

Each part is supposed to gain from the operation : Getaround can step into the European market who has a huge potential – Drivy is already more popular than its American counterpart – and the French company can access the greater financial base of its new American owner. According to Drivy, the service has 2,5 million users in Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK), and about the same in the US, mostly in San Francisco. In America, where families sometimes own up to five cars (for the two parents and several children), sharing a car seems more than a challenge: it’s almost mission impossible. Europe, on the contrary, is taking that road : gas is more expensive there, tolls can be too, especially in France, and traffic is saturated.

The French-Californian duo started about “eight years ago, in a San Francisco café”, says the Drivy insider. That’s where Getaround’s CEO Sam Zaid, who founded the company with Jessica Scorpio and Elliot Kroo, met with Drivy’s founder Paulin Dementhon. The two were just born (Getaround in 2009 and Drivy the year after) but they knew they were “compatible”, he says.

Why ? They have the same goal. “According to a study (1), one shared vehicle can replace ten personal cars”, he goes on. Considering the massive pollution challenge the planet has to face, their bet is that people will stop using their car on an individual basis if they can access a way to drive more collectively. Or if they have to.

In order to do that, they intend to “considerably increase the vehicle fleet”, which also means building a global app (such as Uber) and putting a lot of effort in marketing. According to the French employee, only Getaround’s cash power could allow such an ambition. Last year, they raised 300 million dollars from investors including Toyota, Softbank (also Japanese) and Shanghai Automotive. Automakers who are not going to take the turn will probably end up lobbying against carsharing, or just push for car sales like it’s 1954 (the year of classic Ford’s Thunderbird).

Another reason of their good relations is that they are approximately the same size : “Getaround has about 150 employees now and Drivy around 120”. But “nobody’s leaving the company in Paris, we will only hire more persons”, they say. Paulin Dementhon is becoming the CEO of Getaround Europe and a member of the board in California.

Already, Drivy has been developping Getaround’s strategy for two years : instead of the good old deal between two persons, they’re using “open” cars that are only dedicated to carsharing and are connected to the app, not requiring a human exchange of keys and papers. “More than half our rentals were done that way last year”, Drivy says.

And that’s the story of how Getaround will get to Europe through Drivy’s horse.

Before we just go back to real horses eventually (if we and they are still alive by then, of course).

(1) The French Agency for the Environment and Energy Saving, Ademe, has published a 2016 study where it is written that “one car in carsharing replaces : five personal cars if we take only into account cars that respondents say they got rid of thanks to carsharing, ten personal cars if we take into account all the cars that users got rid of after after their subscription to carsharing”

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