In Chapter 4 of our book, we describe three generic strategies that platforms can deploy at the launch stage to try and solve the chicken-and-egg problem. We also propose, for each strategy, a set of specific tactics.
One of these tactics, named ‘Beat egg whites’, consists in activating positive same-side network effects within a specific group of users. To illustrate this tactic, we give the example of Klaxit, a French carpooling platform that focuses on commuting to work. To leverage same-side network effects among commuters in search of carpooling solutions, Klaxit has partnered with large companies, allowing their employees to create ‘communities’ on the platform. Academic research showed that the existence of these communities has significantly contributed to the growth of the platform.
Klaxit was created in 2012. In 2019, it bought its competitor iDVROOM from SNCF in order to swell its user base and acquire new customers. According to Poitiers (2023), Klaxit claim that they achieved more than 2.6 MIO rides in 2022 in collaboration with about 50 local authorities and about 350 companies.
BlaBlaCar's acquisition plan
On March 15, 2023, BlaBlaCar announced its intention to acquire Klaxit. BlaBlaCar is well-known for its long-distance ride-sharing service, with 100 MIO users. As Dillet (2023) reports:
“BlaBlaCar has its own commuting service called BlaBlaCar Daily. Klaxit will complement this service after the acquisition closes.”
Poitiers (2023) explains the logic behind the collaboration:
“Although long-distance carpooling is working well, the concept is struggling to become widespread on everyday journeys. Over short distances, drivers are less willing to make detours. And it is very difficult to find a driver and a passenger making an identical or almost identical trip, and this, at the same time... Unless you have a very large number of users.”
In Section 6.3 of our book, we describe the basic growth paths for platforms: they can either densify or diversify their value proposition; that is, either expand their activities within their initial market or enter other markets. With the planned acquisition of Klaxit, BlaBlaCar is clearly trying to densify its value proposition.