By Rebecca Heilweil
After its newest fundraising round, Turo — the so-called Airbnb for cars — has officially reached unicorn status.
On Monday, the peer-to-peer car-sharing startup announced that the internet and media holding company IAC has injected $250 million into its business, bringing Turo's total valuation to over $1 billion.
Turo, which was originally founded in 2010 as RelayRides, aims to attract users by offering cheaper rates than traditional car rental chains. Similar to Airbnb, Turo's platform enables car owners to list their vehicle as available for a particular price and stretch of time. Then, users — either on vacation or otherwise in need of a car — can search the availability of vehicles in their desired location.
"When you think about the economics of car ownership, frankly, they don't really make any sense," CEO Andre Haddad told Cheddar. "People buy expensive cars. They have them for their utility, the convenience. But they're not really utilized that frequently. And so it's an asset that depreciates very quickly in value. There's a lot of operating costs and fixed costs associated with car ownership."
Cars listed on Turo are insured for both the host and the guest through Liberty Mutual. Haddad said that Turo takes, on average, about 25 percent of the vehicle host's advertised price to cover both its platform usage charges and insurance.
Haddad said the average host earns about $550 a month (sharing their car for about 10 days). He added that three to four days is the most popular duration for a rental, but that users can request cars by the hour or even by the month.
"Were still at the early days of developing our business," he said. "There's still a lot to be built, frankly, when you think about the opportunity."
Right now, the company claims to have at least 400,000 cars listed on its platform and more than 10 million people in its "community" of users. Turo also says that it's active in more than 5,000 cities and 56 countries.
Haddad explained that the company's newest funding will go toward "perfecting" the business and building out its international reach, and pointed to the hundreds of millions of cars that exist worldwide.
But Turo's goal is not to eliminate car ownership altogether. "We think that definitely the car ownership model is going to be transformed over the next many years," Haddad said, adding that personal car ownership will decline, but not to zero.
"We think it's going to drop from the current 90 percent, or so, to maybe the mid-70s over the next ten years," he said.
"Those are perfect market conditions for a business like our business to thrive because we can provide better economics for the people who decide to continue to own cars. And we provide access for the people who decided actually, owning a car is no longer an option for them."