This isn’t a good sign for the cab industry. Hailo, the app that e-hails cabs for a surcharge, is shutting down its operations in North America, saying it can’t compete in the current market. The company has a bright yellow D.C. office on Florida Avenue and Eighth Street NW. A statement from Hailo says the company will now focus on its business in Europe and Asia.
Just last month, the company hired the “Rent Is Too Damn High” guy as its spokesman to parade around D.C. and call out Uber on its price surging tactics. As part of a promotion, Hailo temporarily slashed its prices in half in the D.C. area between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hailo charges $1.50 to hail a cab on its app, and then regular cab fares kick in. D.C. cabs are struggling to compete with UberX and Lyft—-services that are generally cheaper than taxis—-so it makes sense that Hailo’s troubles in this market would only be amplified.
“In the next phase of our growth, we have decided to put all of our energy and resources into [Europe and Asia],” co-CEO and President of Hailo Tom Barr says in a statement. “We have therefore decided to end our operations in North America, where the astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible.”
Even if Hailo had been able to compete in D.C. presently, they would have likely faced even bigger challenges in the coming months. Just last week, DC Taxicab Comission Chair Ron Linton proposed to require all D.C. cabs to be equipped with an app-hailing service. This app would be free for customers use, and assuming it works, there would be little reason for customers to use Hailo and pay the fee. Chicago has also proposed a similar app.
“Since launching almost three years ago we have carried over 20 million passengers and are proud to be the highest rated taxi app in many cities,” Barr says in the statement.
It is unclear when operations will cease, but a spokesman tells City Desk its “happening imminently.”
Read the full statement from Barr below:
“Since launching almost three years ago we have carried over 20 million passengers and are proud to be the highest rated taxi app in many cities. We’re particularly excited about the strength of our business in Europe and in Asia, and the set of new services built on our technology, from Pay with Hailo and Hailo for Business to our plans for a concierge service.
“In the next phase of our growth, we have decided to put all of our energy and resources into these areas. We have therefore decided to end our operations in North America, where the astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible.
“This has been a difficult decision to make, and we are very sorry for the impact on our colleagues who will leave the company and are doing everything we can to help them with their future careers. We and our investors are confident that our sharpened focus on Europe, Asia and services will help us have the biggest possible impact for our passengers and drivers.”
We are proud to announce that Hailo co-founder Jay Bregman is back at it again. He is starting a new business and so has decided to leave Hailo, where he remains a significant shareholder. Less than three years from its launch in London in November 2011, Jay built the team to hundreds of employees across twenty global cities. “As always it is a bittersweet moment – but Hailo has grown far faster than I ever could have imagined and there are far better people to take it from here. Over the last few months I have been seduced by recent developments in robotics and it seemed the time was right to build something new,” said Bregman.
Screenshot via Googlemaps