GetTaxi at Last Launches Its Car Hailing Service App in NY, Raises $12M
More than a year after setting up its U.S. headquarters in New York, Israel’s GetTaxi announced today that its app is now live in this city for hailing black cars—yellow taxi service is still pending here. The company also announced it raised $12 million in a Series C round led by Kreos Capital with existing investors also participating.
GetTaxi is part of competitive field of apps for hailing car service in busy cities. San Francisco’s Uber and London’s Hailo are also rivals in this sector. As Uber has seen in Boston, it can be hard for these apps to gain traction in some U.S. markets. Furthermore, New York’s regulatory red tape stymied the debut of car hailing apps in this city. “Everyone was stuck in that process for yellow [taxi service],” says Jing Herman, CEO of the U.S. branch of GetTaxi. Such issues, she says, led her company to focus on initially making black car hailing available in New York.
“Everyone was rushing to do the same thing to launch with [yellow] taxis,” she says. “We didn’t think that solved anyone’s real problems.” Herman says the company, during the past year, rethought the pricing for its service in New York to offer flat rates between neighborhoods to be more competitive with the likes of Uber.
Launching with black cars in New York, she says, makes the GetTaxi service a more premium option but the company believes its app can win over customers in this market. “Even though these are cars serving high-end corporate clients, our prices with them are lower compared to what corporate customers are paying,” she says. GetTaxi plans to add yellow taxi hailing in New York but Herman could not say when. “There may be green borough taxis in the future too,” she says.
The company plans to include a diverse supply of cars to hail as it takes on rival services. “Uber chose to be one fleet in New York,” Herman says, “which maybe will have thousands of cars. We’re building a network to include tens of thousands.” She says the available supply of cars in the market has yet to be efficiently matched to demand.
Part of the challenge, though, is getting drivers of yellow taxis, who have plenty of potential customers waving them down on New York’s streets, to use an app to find new fares. “When you really need a taxi, so does everybody else,” says Herman. She believes that offering black car service through the app can solve that pain point.
Herman says GetTaxi’s ease of use will help the app standout among its competitors. “It has smart GPS, it remembers your location if you’re ordering [car service] from your office,” she says. “You can choose [the amount of] the tip.”
The app has already been available in some 20 cities around the world, including Tel Aviv, London, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Overseas, GetTaxi provides its service to 1,500 corporate customers, Herman says, such as Google, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Of the 20 cities, we’re already profitable in 16 of them,” Herman says. “At the end of the year, we’re looking at $120 million to $130 million in annualized sales.” The company has thus far raised $42 million since its 2010 founding.
GetTaxi eventually wants expand to other U.S. cities but for now Herman has plenty to keep her busy. “New York is the biggest opportunity compared to the rest of the country combined,” she says.