Taxify Takes Aim at Uber With Better Deal for Drivers

June 16, 2017 Updated: June 16, 2017

Uber will soon face competition in its largest European market by a tiny Estonian upstart looking to steal market share by giving drivers a bigger slice of the fare.

Uber has sped to a valuation of $76.7 billion in just eight years, even without profits.

Losses for the first quarter, excluding employee stock options and other items, were $708 million, an improvement from $991 million in the previous quarter.

Taxify has previously avoided going head-to-head with Uber and has instead launched in around 18 countries, smaller markets in Eastern Europe, and Africa where Uber isn’t present, or isn’t dominant.

But that’s about to change. The company, which has 140 staff worldwide, compared to Uber’s 12,000, is about to launch in London.

“We are coming in as a second wave,” Chief Executive Markus Villig told Reuters at Taxify’s headquarters in Estonia.

About a third of Taxify’s staff are in Estonia. The company has come close to profitability in the past six months, said Villig. Taxify claims 2.5 million active passengers in 18 countries. Uber said it has more millions of passengers in 70 countries.

The company was founded 3.5 years ago and competes for drivers by offering to take only 10-20 percent of fares compared to Uber’s 20-25 percent.

It also hopes that allowing drivers to take cash and credit card fares will attract more passengers.

“Taxify’s biggest advantage is the focus on good service by treating the drivers and riders better than other platforms. This means having higher pay for drivers thanks to lower fees,” said Villig.

“By the end of the year, I think we will be No. 1 in about 10 countries in Europe and Africa.”

Villig said Taxify had fares worth ‘tens of millions of euros’ each month. Uber said its fare revenue was around $20 billion last year.