Sampo’s Blog: Ready to Catch the Consolidation Wave

By Whim • May 27, 2021

MaaS Global just announced its first major acquisition. The Spanish mobility service WoNDo, which has operated in Madrid since 2018, and its parent company Wondo Mobility, S.L. will become part of MaaS Global. At the same time, MaaS Global received a strategic investment from Ferrovial, a publicly-traded Spanish operator of sustainable infrastructure with a global reach.

This is a significant step for MaaS Global, and we are excited about the chance to bring Wondo into our family, but I would not say that the acquisition itself is a game-changer for us. I rather think of it as a logical step within the strategy we have followed and executed all along. What is changing is the game itself. And we are ready. Let me explain why.

A recent study by the renowned Center of Automotive Management in Germany positioned MaaS Global as by far the best multimodal mobility service in the world, way ahead of established players like BMW, Daimler, Didi, and Alphabet. After years of intense work to achieve exactly this position, we welcomed the result with cheers in the office. It also came at the right time. We are about to enter a new phase in the MaaS industry, and now if ever, it pays to be positioned as the company most capable of integrating across the board.

An emerging industry usually goes through phases, and several highs and lows, before it takes shape. First, the pioneers innovate and explore, then others spot the opportunity and pile on. Then everybody realizes everything will take longer than expected. Some quit, some pivot, some decide to push through the slow-moving period. But when things start picking up again, often the perception of the industry has changed. Time has done its job and what used to be an oddity is now accepted and an opportunity. And soon, the consolidation game is on. 

At MaaS Global, we are well-positioned to catch this wave, almost like a surfer that has trained a lifetime for the big one. Being among the original developers of the Mobility-as-a-Service concept and the first company to pursue it at scale, our actions have always been vision-based. Our teams have worked incredibly hard and with breathtaking stamina to develop the best UX, the widest variety of integrations, and the most developed monthly packaging models in the field. As with any startup, our journey has included more mistakes and disappointments than spectacular wins, but our vision has kept us on the path.

Today our core capability at MaaS Global is to integrate any mode or system of transport, from nationwide transportation networks to individual e-scooters. When I say integrate, I refer both to our technological toolbox, which has been developed and tested to handle any interface, and our experience in integrating all of these modalities into one crisp customer-facing app with monthly billing.

There are more potential integrations in our system than to any other operator in the field. We had just reached the execution stage with this toolbox when Covid-19 hit, and we had to pull back and keep improving our interfaces in the shop, rather than out in the streets. But now that the world is increasingly in exit mode, we are increasingly in integration mode. This puts us in the center of the board as consolidation gains momentum.

Now that the world is increasingly in exit mode, we are increasingly in integration mode.

Although the concept of MaaS has always been borderless, many applications have so far been geographically limited. Yes, Uber and some of the e-scooter companies operate internationally, but they are restricted to a few specific modes and are still mostly pay-as-you-go. True MaaS is multimodal and subscription-based. There have been barriers to make this a reality that scales, but this is now changing.

Technologically the world has become app-based. Everything is accessible through an app, and this means the physical reality behind the apps must be designed and organized to allow this. The consumer also increasingly wants to engage with everything as a service. This very much includes mobility, especially among young urbanites, and this is the key driver for the rise in demand for MaaS and subsequently for the consolidation of MaaS actors.

Regulators are just waking up to the new reality. The demands of environmentalists, technologists, and new generations are increasingly impacting policies. Among the cities in which we are active, Antwerp in Belgium stands apart. There the local regulator mandates mobility services to integrate with at least three MaaS-players. This has created an exceptionally innovative smart transportation environment that supports the overall development of the city. As we at MaaS Global scan for future cities and countries to go to, we see that many places plan to follow Antwerp’s lead.

As the consolidation wave rises, it all becomes a momentum game. Those with a proven ability to integrate, most friends, and a good reputation will become desired partners and organizers of the next level Mobility-as-a-Service operations.

I expect those that are least interested in domination to prosper the most.

By momentum game, I don’t mean a race for world dominance like we’ve seen in search, social media, phones, and e-commerce. The world of transportation is simply too big for that. There will be mergers, and there will be partnerships, but I expect those that are least interested in domination to prosper the most. There will be no Google of transportation, but rather a network of networks in which the most valued integrators are those that are not hungry for centralized power but rather hungry for making the whole a success.