We’re excited to announce today that USV led the recent round of financing in Hailo, the e-hail company based in London and New York. Hailo is rapidly becoming a global platform for regulated taxi service and we are delighted to join existing investors Accel, Atomico and Wellington, as well as new investors Phenomen, KDDI and Sir Richard Branson.
For more than a year, we have watched the Hailo management team roll out their service. The team did an extraordinary job of execution. They first launched the app in London in the fall of 2011 and were the seventh or eighth app in this market. By the end of 2012 they were the dominant app, with half of London’s 23,000 London black cab signed up for the service and consumers downloading the app at strong month over month growth rates despite minimal marketing. Similar trends are evident in the next two markets the company entered, Dublin and Toronto.
This financing will enable Hailo to enter markets in the United States, including our hometown New York City later this month, as well as Japan and Continental Europe. While every city has different customs, dynamics and regulatory structures, the basic need is the same: providing a service that directly connects drivers and riders in real-time at reasonable prices.
With Hailo you no longer have to worry about whether the cab you are trying to find will make an unexpected turn or pick up another passenger before it gets to you. With both the drivers and the passengers changing location all the time, this is truly a native use case for mobile apps.
The company has six founders, three of whom are executives and three of whom are former London taxi drivers. They have a sense of humor and call themselves The Big Wigs. There is a good interview in the Wall Street Journal published this morning with Jay Bregman, Hailo’s CEO, that is worth reading and gives a sense of why we chose to invest. We are happy to be along for the, er, ride.