From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Privately held company
Industry Transport
Founded September 2011 (2011-09) in Berlin, Germany
Founders Jens Wohltorf, Frank Steuer
Headquarters Berlin, Germany
Area served
Services On-order professional driver and ground transportation service

Blacklane GmbH is a startup company based in Berlin which provides a chauffeur portal connecting people to professional chauffeurs via their mobile app, website and hotline.[1][2] The company offers a prebooking service at a fixed rate and doesn’t own its own fleet, but works with local chauffeur companies in each of its cities.[3][4][5][6][7] Blacklane’s service is available in more than 50 countries, 250 cities, and at over 500 airports worldwide.[8][9][10][11][12] Airport pickups include one hour of free waiting time, while all non-airport pickups include 15 minutes.[12] Passengers can also edit or cancel their bookings for free up to one hour before a one-way transfer.[10][12]



The startup was founded in 2011 by university friends, Jens Wohltorf and Frank Steuer, in Berlin, Germany.[1][6][7][13] Backed by the investors RI Digital Ventures, B-to-V Partners, 88 investments GmbH, and Car4you, the company officially launched in June 2012.[7][14] From the beginning of September, they were operating in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, München and Stuttgart.[15] By the end of the year, they had added Bremen, Leipzig, Dresden and Hannover.[16][17]


In January 2013, it was reported that another investment round had successfully been closed with RI Digital Ventures, B-to-V Partners and Car4You taking part again, as well as Alternative Strategic Investments (Alstin), owned by German investor, Carsten Maschmeyer, taking part.[18][19] By May 2013, the company was operating in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, France and the UK.[20] In August 2013, Blacklane started a project called "Mission 100", which saw 100 cities launched in as many days, ending on December 16 in Palma de Mallorca.[21] This project took Blacklane's coverage to 130 cities and 45 countries by the end of 2013.[3] A day after the launch in Palma de Mallorca, it was announced that Daimler AG had invested around 10 million euros in the start up, valuing the company at just under 60 million euros.[6]


In March, Blacklane officially launched in eight UK cities - London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow - after completing its year-long beta phase.[4] Also announced in March was the testing of Blacklane's Smart Class in Berlin.[22] The "Mobilität im Wandel: Fortschritt oder Stillstand?" conference took place on September 17, 2014, in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, Berlin[23][24][25][26][27] 10,12. The conference was called by Jens Wohltorf, the CEO and Founder of Blacklane,[23][24][25][27][28][29][30][31][32] in the hope of provoking an open dialogue and providing the opportunity to collaborate not through the media, but face-to-face with decision makers from government, business, the taxi industry and mobility startups.[23][24][26][27][28][29][30][31][33] Most attention was paid to Uber Germany's General Manager and spokesperson, Fabien Nestmann,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][34] with Uber being called "criminal",[23][25] and Nestmann being asked if he is in favour of "Schwarzarbeit",[26][27] by Michael Müller,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][34] the President of the German Taxi and Car Hire Association. The main argument for this was focused on opponents saying Uber was trying to get around Germany's "Personenbeförderungsgesetz" which determines the rules of passenger transportation.[23][24][27][28][29][30][31][34] Further attendees and speakers included Kai Wegner of the CDU/CSU political party,[23][24][25][27][29][30][33] Alexander Mönch from MyTaxi,[23][26][27][33] Sabine Toepfer Kataw, Secretary of State in the Senate Department of Justice and Consumer Protection,[23][24][27][28][29][30][33] Robert Henrich, from moovel GmbH,[23][31][32][33] Clemens Grün, from the Hamburg Taxi Union[24][32][34] and Sascha Schubert, from the Federal Union of German Startups.[23][27][33]


In March 2015, Blacklane partnered with the multinational travel IT provider Amadeus.[35][36] Also in March, Blacklane was recognized as Germany's fastest growing tech startup at the European Tech5 Awards in Berlin.[37] In April, Blacklane expanded service to 36 more cities in North America.[38] Quartz, a news publication from Atlantic Media, used this launch to discuss the company's business model: "Blacklane, a Berlin-based taxi app operating in 186 cities across 50 countries, is betting on an alternative to price rationing: reverse Dutch auctions."[39] A traditional Dutch auction starts with a high price and consistently goes lower until the item is sold, but with reverse auctions, the price starts low and goes higher until it is sold. For Blacklane, when a ride is booked, an offer is sent out to drivers at a low price, and after a few minutes, if no one buys the ride, then the price goes up.[39] Blacklane made Wired UK's list of Europe's Hottest Startups 2015.[40]


In February 2016, Blacklane added Las Vegas to its destinations[41] followed by Venice, Monaco and Toulouse in July.[42] On 1 August Blacklane announced new investment in its biggest funding round yet.[43] Daimler, RI Digital Ventures, b-to-v and Alstin invested in this round.[44] The amount has been described as "eight-digit" by Daimler[45] or "more than 10 million euros" by Blacklane's CEO, Jens Wohltorf.[44] In early November 2016, the German hotel reservation service HRS chose Blacklane as its “first professional driver service to transfer guests from airports to their accommodation”.[46] In December Ralf Echtler, a former Daimler executive, joined Blacklane as chief operating and chief financial officer. Echtler had previously sat on Blacklane’s board of advisors.[47][48] Blacklane also announced the rolling out of an additional 64 cities in 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, the opening of a regional office in Singapore and a partnership with Asia Miles.[47]


In February 2017, Blacklane integrated with the global ground transportation system GroundSpan.[49][50][51] This gives the company connectivity with the Concur Technologies, Sabre (computer system) and Travelport travel tools.[49][50][51] In March, Hertz announced its new "Hertz Driver Services powered by Blacklane." Hertz offers Blacklane rides around the world to customers based in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Expedia, Inc. was also named as a customer. Expedia offers Blacklane as an add-on for customers' flight and hotel reservations.[52] In April, Blacklane and Asia Miles offered a triple miles promotion for every U.S. dollar, euro or British pound spent on completed rides. Asia Miles is the rewards program for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon airlines.[53] In June, Blacklane integrated into Finnair. The partnership allows travellers to buy airport transfers when they purchase flights. In an industry first, Finnair connects air tickets to rides with the Passenger Name Record.[54] In September, Blacklane partnered with Qatar Airways to provide passengers with door-to-door transportation.[55][56][57][58] In October, Blacklane partnered with Lufthansa’s Miles & More awards program for a promotion where members could sign up to receive five times the miles for every Blacklane ride taken that month.[59] Blacklane also acquired Solve, an airport concierge booking service, planning to integrate their service in December. Solve offers meet and greet service, fast-track security, expedited customs and immigration, connecting flight assistance, and lounge access.[60][61][62][63][64]


January 24th Blacklane announced their largest funding round to date, with ALFAHIM joining existing investors Daimler and btov Partners.[65][66][67][68][69]

Regulatory opposition and outcomes[edit]

Taxi price misrepresentation 2013[edit]

In April 2013, Blacklane came under attack from taxi companies saying that they were misrepresenting their pricing.[70] The accusation, which saw Blacklane taken to court in Berlin, was that Blacklane had unfairly and, to a great part, incorrectly presented taxi prices with a number of "hidden" additional costs. These additional costs included such things as 10% for potential delays due to traffic as well as a requirement to pay a 10% tip. This led to Blacklane's own pre-tax prices, which are fixed, appearing cheaper than the pre-tax price of a taxi. This was seen as libel and Blacklane was given the chance to remove such comparisons or face either paying up to 250,000 euros in fines or having to cease operations for up to 6 months.

The Smart regulatory allowance 2014[edit]

Blacklane caused a stir again in 2014 upon rolling out their Smart Class. A German law states that all taxis and limousines must have 2 doors on the right side of the vehicle.[71] A Smart car has only one door on the right, but also only one door on the left. Taxi companies threatened to take action, accusing Blacklane of breaking the law by using Smart cars. Blacklane revealed in interviews, that they had requested and received special permission for the use of Smart cars before the launch as only one door on the right side sufficed when it came to the safety of a Smart car.[72]


At the European Tech5 Awards in March 2015, Blacklane was named the fastest growing tech startup in Germany.[73] The company was an official contender for the title of Europe's fastest growing tech startup at The Next Web Conference in April 2015 in Amsterdam, however the award went to Amsterdam-based Fairphone.[74] In April 2017, The German Stevie Awards recognized CEO and co-founder Jens Wohltorf as a Gold winner for "Manager of the Year -- Transport."[75] Blacklane won a Silver for Company of the Year - Automotive, Transportation and Transport.[76]


In September 2014, Mobility in Transition, an open dialogue event in Germany, discussed the role of the taxi industry and mobility startups. Blacklane's CEO Jens Wohltorf addressed the crowd on the importance of moving and evolving together.[77] In July 2015, Tech Open Air in Berlin included a panel discussion with Blacklane, Uber and moovel on Government vs. Transportation Technology: Passengers Lose.[78]


  1. ^ a b Millward, Steven. "Aiming to usurp Uber, Blacklane arrives in 18th Asian city with Tokyo roll-out", Tech in Asia, 12 December 2013.
  2. ^ Karantzavelou, Vicky. "Chauffeur portal Blacklane launches in the UK", Travel Daily News, 28 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Reuckert, Elena. "Ready, Set, Expand: Blacklane Launches in the UK", Venture Village, 26 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Travolution. "Chauffeur car portal Blacklane launches in the UK", Travolution, 26 March 2014.
  5. ^ Green, Jonathan. "Blacklane chauffeured limousine app arrives in London after successful start in Berlin", Smart Mobility Management, 21 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Schmidt, Nico and Geiger, Friedrich. "Daimler Invests in Chauffeur Portal Startup Blacklane", The Wall Street Journal, 17 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b c The Hundert. "BLACKLANE", The Hundert, May 2014.
  8. ^ Nijhof, Arno (2017-01-16). "How Blacklane went from one city to over 250 around the world". The Next Web. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  9. ^ GmbH, Blacklane. "Blacklane Expands In Asia-Pacific Region to Serve World's Largest Travel Market". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  10. ^ a b "Limo service earns FFP points : TTR Weekly". Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  11. ^ Ireland, Ben (13 October 2017). "Blacklane acquires Solve to add airport concierge services to offering". Travolution. 
  12. ^ a b c "Blacklane Links With Groundspan For Better Booking Options - Operations - Limousine, Charter & Tour". Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  13. ^ HKTDC. "Life in the Fast Lane", Hong Kong Trader, 18 September 2013.
  14. ^ Hofmann, Alex. "Blacklane: Finanzierung für Limousinen-Dienst", Gründer Szene, 28 June 2012.
  15. ^ Hoffmann, Jürgen. "Mehr Service, höherer Preis: Limo gefällig?", Spiegel Online, 29 October 2012.
  16. ^ Hoffmann, Jürgen. "Limousine zum Kilometertarif", Weser Kurier, 19 November 2012.
  17. ^ Voigt, Andreas. "Blacklane: Limousinen-Service zum Taxipreis", Neue Presse, 23 November 2012.
  18. ^ Räth, Magdalena. "Maschmeyer steigt bei Blacklane ein", Gründer Szene, 14 January 2013.
  19. ^ Hüsing, Alexander. "AWD-Gründer Maschmeyer investiert in Blacklane – Sixt startet myDriver", Deutsche Startups, 13 January 2013.
  20. ^ Li, Charmaine. "German Limousine Service Blacklane Scores "Several Million Euros" Funding and Aims for US Rollout", Venture Village, 21 May 2013.
  21. ^ Schmidt, Nico. "Berliner Chauffeur-Service Blacklane will die Welt erobern", The Wall Street Journal, 24 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Berliner Limousinenservice Blacklane jetzt auch mit Smart", Berlin Aktuell, 11 March 2014.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Mobilität im Wandel: "Uber wird sterben"", heise online, 19 September 2014.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i Neumann, Peter and Rest, Jonas. "Showdown der Taxi-Duellanten", Berliner Zeitung, 17 September 2014.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Mechnich, Markus. "Alles Uber oder was?", Der Tagesspiegel, 22 September 2014.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Fahrun, Joachim. "Uber gegen die anderen", Die Welt, 18 September 2014.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fahrun, Joachim. "Chauffeurdienst Uber legt sich mit einer ganzen Branche an", Morgen Post, 18 September 2014.
  28. ^ a b c d e f "«Alt gegen Neu»: Branche debattiert hitzig um Fahrdienst Uber", Westdeutsche Zeitung, 17 September 2014.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g "«Alt gegen Neu»: Branche debattiert hitzig um Fahrdienst Uber", Süddeutsche Zeitung, 17 September 2014.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g "Branche debattiert hitzig um Fahrdienst Uber", Die Welt, 17 September 2014.
  31. ^ a b c d e f Fund, Dietmar. "Blacklane-Symposium konfrontiert Uber mit dem Taxigewerbe", taxi heute, 18 September 2014.
  32. ^ a b c Dörner, Stephan. "Daimler-Tochter arbeitet an der Abschaffung des Privatautos", The Wall Street Journal, 18 September 2014.
  33. ^ a b c d e f [1]
  34. ^ a b c d Grimm, Christian. "Der nette Herr Nestmann von Uber", The Wall Street Journal, 17 September 2014.
  35. ^ "TrustYou's new quartet, Virgin Holidays with Magnolia, Ice Portal gets Qunar, and more…", tnooz, 5 March 2015.
  36. ^ "Taxi rides join Amadeus", ttrweekly, 10 March 2015.
  37. ^ Mic Wright. "Blacklane Named Germany's Fastest Growing Tech Startup". The Next Web. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  38. ^ Divac, Natascha. "Germany's Blacklane Gains Traction in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  39. ^ a b Herbert, David. "Blacklane wants to be Uber with a heart, if drivers and customers will let it". Quartz. Atlantic Media. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Ride App Widens Reach With Legal, Licensed Chauffeurs ", LCT Magazin, 4 April 2016.
  42. ^ "Blacklane introduce il servizio "porta a porto" a Venezia e aggiunge Tolosa e Monaco", montecarlonews, 15 July 2016.
  43. ^ "Daimler Doubles Down On Regulator-Friendly Ride-Booking Services", Fortune, 1 August 2016.
  44. ^ a b "Daimler Boosts Blacklane Stake as Ride-Sharing Market Heats Up",Bloomberg 1 August 2016.
  45. ^ "Daimler invests in chauffeur service start-up Blacklane", Business Insider, 1 August 2016.
  46. ^ "Blacklane taxis to take HRS guests between hotels and airports", Travolution, 2 November 2016.
  47. ^ a b "Blacklane launches in Asia-Pacific, appoints ex-Daimler executive as COO/CFO",, 13 December 2016.
  48. ^ "Professional driver service Blacklane expands in Asia-Pacific", Business Traveller, 15 December 2016.
  49. ^ a b "Blacklane Links With Groundspan For Better Booking Options", [ LCT Magazine, 23 February 2017.
  50. ^ a b Davies, Phil. "Blacklane unveils tie-up with ground transportation platform Groundspan", Travolution, 22 February 2017.
  51. ^ a b "Distribution Roundup March 2017", tnooz, 03 March 2017.
  52. ^ "Hertz’s Latest Twist Is Adding Private Driver Services From Blacklane", [ Skift, 10 March 2017.
  53. ^ "Blacklane launches triple Asia Miles offer", [ Business Traveller, 24 April 2017.
  54. ^ "Finnair claims ground transport revolution with PNR-integrated web bookings", [ tnooz, 14 June 2017.
  55. ^ "Arrive in Style with Qatar Airways' Luxury Global Chauffeur Service". Qatar Tribune Qatar. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  56. ^ Tsierkezou, Tatiana (2017-09-20). "Qatar Airways raises bar with new global chauffer [sic] service - TTG MENA". TTG MENA. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  57. ^ "Qatar Airways rolls out global chauffeur airport transfer service - Business Traveller – The leading magazine for frequent flyers". Business Traveller – The leading magazine for frequent flyers. 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  58. ^ "Qatar Airways launches airport chauffeur service – for a price..." Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  59. ^ "Miles & More Members: Sign Up For Blacklane and Earn 5x More Miles In October - Lufthansa Flyer". Lufthansa Flyer. 2017-10-18. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  60. ^ "Blacklane buys airport services startup, connects the dots". tnooz. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  61. ^ "Blacklane to Offer Seamless Airport Experience | The Art of Business Travel". Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  62. ^ Hamdi, Raini. "Blacklane makes inroads in airport transfers | TTG Asia". Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  63. ^ "Blacklane Adds Airport Concierge Services to Its Booking Platform: Business Travel News". Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  64. ^ "Blacklane acquires Solve to add airport concierge services worldwide". TravelDailyNews International. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  65. ^ "Berlin's Blacklane raises $40-45M for its high-end transport on demand service – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  66. ^ "UAE-based AlFahim leads new Blacklane funding". Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  67. ^ Asia, TTG. "Largest investment puts Blacklane in fast lane to expansion | TTG Asia". Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  68. ^ Fabrion, Maxence (2018-01-24). "L'Allemand Blacklane lève 40 millions de dollars pour gagner du terrain face à Uber". (in French). Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  69. ^ "40 Millionen für den Limousinenservice von Blacklane". Gründerszene Magazin (in German). Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  70. ^ Leipold, Richard. "Blacklane zurück auf dem Pfad der Tugend", Berliner Taxi Vereinigung 24 April 2013.
  71. ^ "§ 25 Türen, Alarmanlage und Trennwand", Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz
  72. ^ Tönnesmann, Jens. "Verkrustete Strukturen aufbrechen", Wirtschafts Woche, 5 April 2014.
  73. ^ Wright, Mic. "Tech5 Germany: Blacklane named Germany's fastest growing tech startup". The Next Web. The Next Web. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  74. ^ Van Wijhe, Jelle. "Tech5: Fairphone named Europe's fastest-growing startup of 2015". The Next Web. The Next Web. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  75. ^ "Blacklane GmbH - Manager des Jahres", German Stevie Awards
  76. ^ "Gewinner der German Stevie® Awards 2017", German Stevie Awards
  77. ^
  78. ^