11. October 2012–
German peer-to-peer taxi app startup myTaxi has announced expansion into the US – starting with Washington DC and with other cities set to follow.
It's a big move for the Hamburg-based company, founded in 2009 by Sven Kulper and Niclaus Mewes (above, L-R) and now operating in 30 German cities as well as Vienna, Zurich, Warsaw and Barcelona.
Like Uber and Hailo, myTaxi lets users order a taxi with a smartphone rather than traditional "hailing" or phone booking. myTaxi also offers a ratings system for reviewing drivers, live tracking on taxi approach and – since July – a smartphone payment option.
With its latest geographical expansion, myTaxi will be entering a space that's fiercely competitive for one so new. It may claim to be the first-mover worldwide, but Uber, for example, has been active in the US since 2009 (though only fairly recently in the taxi rather than private driver space). UK-based Hailo isn't in the US yet, but it launched in Toronto this month and is a planning a roll-out to New York, Boston and Chicago. Then there's Taxi Magic, a lesser-known taxi booking app available in the US and Canada.
Still, myTaxi is in a solid position to compete – it's proven itself over 2.3 million app downloads in Europe and is supported by investors T-Venture (Deutsche Telekom), Daimler's car-sharing company Car2Go (with talk of integrating MyTaxi into Car2Go's app), KfW Bankengruppe, Cinco Capital GmbH and e42 GmbH.
Anyway, at this point, the real trouble for Uber and co. seems to be the traditional taxi industry and city regulations. It seems the DC authorities at least are softening up, at least for myTaxi:
The DC Taxicab Commission welcomes any electronic reservation company such as myTaxi, bringing technological advancements to the District of Columbia," DC Taxicab Commission Chairperson chief Ron Linton said in myTaxi's press statement yesterday.
That's a good start – and the US market, home to 10 billion trips on public transportation last year, according to myTaxi's stats, is one well worth fighting for.
FOR RELATED READING, CHECK OUT:
Transportation in SF sucks. Here’s what Uber’s doing about it.
A very candid interview with Carpooling CEO Markus Barnikel
myTaxi releases first direct mobile payment solution in Germany – and viral video