Gett chief expects ‘more than $1 billion’ in revenue by next year

Shahar Waiser, Gett’s CEO, hopes the company will be first to launch on-demand self-driving cars

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

A GetTaxi vehicle in Tel Aviv. (Courtesy)
A GetTaxi vehicle in Tel Aviv. (Courtesy)

Shahar Waiser, Gett’s chief executive and founder, said the rideshare Israeli start-up expects revenue to “be more than $1 billion” by next year and hopes to “have the privilege to be the first to launch” self-driving cars-on-demand.

“There is a consensus that by 2020 there will be the first autonomous cars on the roads in most of the cities, and now with the help of Volkswagen we have a privilege to be the first to launch those cars on demand, including in Israel and other places,” Waiser told an audience during a presentation at the Israel Mobile Summit 2016 in Tel Aviv.

In May, German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) made a $300 million investment in Israel’s Gett, which has a presence in more than 60 countries worldwide including London, Moscow and New York. More than half of London’s black cabs run on Gett today.

The deal with VW is a strategic partnership between the two companies that will allow them to share data and explore collaboration for future projects. Volkswagen will offer Gett’s services to business customers, while Gett drivers will be able to buy discounted VW cars to use as taxis, the two companies said at the time. Volkswagen said the deal was part of a move toward modernizing the company’s technological and business platforms.

VW made the investment in Gett because it recognized “the new opportunity” of on-demand rides that has grown alongside traditional car ownership, 40-year old Weiser, dressed in a black T-shirt and chinos, told The Times of Israel in an interview at the sidelines of the conference. And as “the space of on-demand is rapidly growing and as VW leads the car production, they want to be significant in leading in the on-demand space as well.”

What Gett brings to the relationship is its “most important asset,” Weiser said: the technology, the big data, the artificial intelligence, the heat maps and the predictive algorithms that Gett uses in directing and locating its taxis in an efficient way.

“It is the core – the same exact technology we use today to run our cars effectively across different cities, exactly the same technology will be needed for self-driving cars,” Weiser told the audience. “It is not just enough to produce the car but you also need a layer, an operational layer that will be running that asset in the most effective way and this is what we know to do.”

Gett will not be producing the self-driving cars, but once they are developed and are available, then Gett’s technology is “exactly the type of technologies that are needed to position those vehicles effectively. And this is where we again can contribute good value to each other,” he said in the interview.

There are almost 20 million rides-on-demand a day globally, Weiser said, compared with none just five years ago. There is a consensus between automakers that autonomous cars will be available by 2020 and there is a McKinsey & Co. study that says that by 2030 half of all new cars will be autonomous, he said.

Gett, formerly GetTaxi, was developed by Israelis Waiser and Roi More – without inspiration of US competitor Uber. The Tel Aviv and San Francisco teams both hit upon the idea independently during 2009. Uber got to market first, premiering in June 2010, while GetTaxi was released in Tel Aviv, its first market, in mid-2010. Uber made an estimated almost $2 million in revenue last year, Fortune said on April 18.

Weiser did not rule out additional funding rounds or an IPO for Gett. “Going forward we might raise more capital,” he said in the interview. “As any company that shows financially good results in absolute terms and in growth terms and profitability, it is reasonable to expect that such a company might attract additional capital” from companies that will want to be part of the new market being created.

As long as the company demonstrates growth, revenue and profitability, it has a variety of funding choices, he said. “One of them might be IPO, one of them might be staying private one of them might be any other option,” Waiser said. “Right now we are focusing to demonstrate growth, but mindful and disciplined growth, that is what Gett is famous for.”

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