The CEO and founder of financially strapped Finnish start-up MaaS Global, creator of the pioneering mobility-as-a-service app Whim, said the company is “reorganizing. That includes laying off more employees, after having closed at least one country operation last month.
MaaS Global is believed to have laid off half of its roughly 50 employees in its home base of Finland. That’s after closing its Brazilian office last month and shutting down the Quicko app platform it had acquired only six month earlier with shares of the company. Local reports said 60 employees were terminated in Brazil.
• MaaS Global
• Siemens Mobility
The founder and CEO of cash-strapped Finnish start-up MaaS Global, creator of the pioneering mobility-as-a-service app Whim, said the company is “reorganizing.” That includes laying off more employees, after having closed at least one country operation last month.
Sampo Hietanen, in a post yesterday on LinkedIn, in which he sought to find other companies to hire the terminated MaaS Global employees, seemed to acknowledge that the start-up had failed to find more venture capital or a buyer.
As MaaS Global’s cash crunch worsened this past summer, the company had approached such large industry technology suppliers as Siemens Mobility and Cubic Transportation Systems, asking if they were interested in buying the start-up, Mobility Payments reported Sept. 2.
Since then, MaaS Global is believed to have laid off half of its roughly 50 employees in its home base of Finland. That’s after closing its Brazilian office last month and shutting down the Quicko app platform it had acquired only six months earlier with shares of the company. Local reports said 60 employees were terminated in Brazil. Quicko had boasted around half a million users across such major Brazilian cities as São Paulo, Salvador, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.
“We all know that start-up life is a rollercoaster ride and as for many, the recent months have been quite tough for MaaS Global,” Hietanen wrote in the post yesterday. ‘While people were finally returning to regular travel behavior, and we were seeing strong growth in our Whim app usage, the funding environment and investor expectations for start-ups like us shifted significantly.”
He stated further that MaaS Global would be “evaluating” all of its country operations, and that the situation had “forced us to plan a new route to be able to deliver on our mission.” He added that “thankfully, we have new partners to take the first steps on our new route together.”
But Hietanen did not elaborate on the “new route” and did not immediately respond to a request for comment following his post. Vesa Silaskivi, chairman of the MaaS Global board, referred all questions to Hietanen.
That “new route,” may include partnering with local companies to deliver MaaS, including non-transport related companies that want to introduce an added service to clients. In an interview Hietanen gave around mid-September in Brazil, he said MaaS Global would “pivot its business model,” using its technology, products and market experience. “MaaS Global will partner with companies and partners who want to deliver MaaS locally.”
Hietanen had acknowledged Sept. 2 in an interview with Mobility Payments that the company’s cash situation was serious. And it has been difficult to raise additional capital.
Venture capital firms have become much more risk averse following the “financial crisis” brought on by the Russian war in Ukraine, he said. That followed the Covid-19 pandemic, which nearly dealt a fatal blow to MaaS Global by itself, he said.
Founded in 2015, MaaS Global has become the best known of the MaaS start-ups. Its platform brings together public and private transport mobility providers, enabling users to plan, book and pay for end-to-end journeys in the same app. The company had expanded from its Finnish base to several other European markets, including Spain and the UK, in addition to Japan and, earlier this year, Brazil. Over the past seven years, the start-up has raised at least €70 million (US$68.5 million).
But even before the pandemic, MaaS as a technology was not living up to its promise. Then Covid caused use of mobility, especially public transit globally, to plummet.
Some observers at the time said they believed MaaS Global had only enough cash on hand for operations to last a matter of weeks. It remains to be seen how long the start-up will be able to hold out.
© Mobility Payments and Forthwrite Media. Mobility Payments content is for individual use and cannot be copied or distributed without the express permission of the publisher.