Just 2 months ago, we thought that we had seen the last of Karhoo, a ride-hailing startup poised to make competitors like Uber shiver in their pants – but unfortunately crumbling before it could really take off.
It had a unique proposition to the current state of hailing affairs – Karhoo was to allow users to compare between all available rides without the need of having to switch between apps, something which, in my personal experience, peers have complained about in their search for the cheapest ride.
Everything seemed like it was going well – it reported a US$250 million vote of confidence from investors, it made a debut on our local news via its partnership with Singapore’s largest taxi company ComfortDelGro, and it even claimed to be “bigger than Uber after just 3 months” since its launch.
Not wanting to be a wet blanket, many (including us) took the news as a sign of the promising rise of a powerful disruptor in its industry, but all of this came crumbling down when it announced its sudden closing last November, and were looking “at the next steps for the business”.
From being overly ambitious to splurging too much on unnecessary big ticket items, their tale went from being inspirational to being one of caution – warning startup owners about the unhappily-ever-after that awaits them lest they embark on the similar mistakes.
Aaaaaaaand They’re Back
But it seems like we’ve not seen the last of Karhoo yet – the startup is actually making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to French carmaker Renault.
In a statement by RCI Bank and Services, the financial arm of Renault, it had acquired a majority holding in Flit Technologies Ltd, which had won the takeover bid for Karhoo.
Said Gianluca De Ficchy, CEO of RCI Bank and Services, “The acquisition of the start-up Karhoo appeared as a sudden opportunity that we did not want to miss and the acquisition was completed rapidly. We have met the highly-motivated teams, and I have every confidence in Karhoo’s business model; it is innovative and underpinned by a first-class technological platform.”
Through the acquisition, RCI Bank and Services will also be using the platform “as part of its activities for the brands of the Renault-Nissan Alliance”.
According to TechCrunch, Karhoo “will be relaunched by Boris Pilichowski and Nicolas Andine as co-CEOs, with full financial backing from RCI Bank and Services, the financial services division of the car giant Renault”.
Pilichowski and Andine were running the startup before the company’s shut down.
Said the co-CEOs in a statement, “Karhoo was amazingly successful in ferrying hundreds of thousands of people around the world but lacked a corporate backer, but with RCI Bank and Services, we now have that.”
Renault joins a slew of carmakers that have been pumping money into ride-hailing startups, some of whom include Toyota x Uber, General Motors x Lyft, BMW x Scoop and Volkswagen x Gett – something which Vanity Fair had called an “if you can’t beat them, invest millions of dollars in them” move.
It’ll be interesting to see how the whole acquisition and relaunch plays out, but we’re going to need to wait till the end of the year to see that.