Make no mistake, it's hard going up against Uber. Traditional taxi companies have been forced to evolve or die, while other startups like Hailo have found it difficult to compete the ride-hailing service's incredible growth. Karhoo, a price comparison service for hailing black cabs and the like, also found this out the hard way.
Despite raising tens of millions of pounds and enjoying a splashy launch last May, the company quickly burned through its investment and closed in November as it looked "at the next steps for the business." Administrators got involved and employees suddenly found themselves without a job. However, two months later, Karhoo is making a return, thanks to the financial arm of French car giant Renault.
In a statement, RCI Bank and Services confirmed that it had taken a majority holding in Flit Technologies Ltd, a company formed by former Karhoo employees that bought the remaining assets of the liquidated company.
"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," said Gianluca De Ficchy, CEO of RCI Bank and Services. "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. We will also be able to capitalize on this platform as part of our activities for the Alliance brands."
Renault becomes the latest car maker to sink money into on-demand transport. Daimler owns the majority of Hailo, Volkswagen has poured $300 million into Gett and General Motors has invested $500 million into Lyft. Karhoo operates a little differently to many of its rivals in that it doesn't operate its own cars, it simply provides a platform for taxi and private hire firms to feed ride pricing into its app, allowing users to choose the provider that suits their needs.
Before the company shut down last year, Karhoo employees Boris Pilichowski and Nicolas Andine ran operations following the departure of founder Daniel Ishag. Pilichowski and Andine have become co-CEOs of the new entity and hope to relaunch the service, which is based in London but also has operations in New York, later this year.