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Taxi app Hailo closes Boston office, pulls out of North America

With 800 taxi drivers signed up for the service, Boston was one of the largest markets for Hailo.
With 800 taxi drivers signed up for the service, Boston was one of the largest markets for Hailo.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/File

Hailo, the software company that linked passengers with licensed cabs, is pulling out of North America because of intense competition from Uber, Lyft and other so-called “ride-sharing” companies.

With 800 taxi drivers signed up for the service, Boston was one of the largest markets for Hailo, which remains active in 20 cities, according to a statement. Although the company did not have a figure for how many employees worked in its Boston office, a spokesman said 40 employees would be laid off.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Hailo chief executive Tom Barr said the ongoing “price war” between ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft made it difficult for Hailo to compete. Uber and Lyft, which use apps to refer drivers to customers, are not regulated like taxis and have sunk money into luring riders and drivers to their services.

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“The astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible,” Barr said in a statement.

Barr added that Hailo would be refocusing on cities in Europe and Asia. In Europe, Uber and Lyft have encountered stiffer resistance from regulators and the taxi industry. Earlier in 2014, a lawsuit resulted in Uber being banned in Germany.

A call to the company’s Dorchester office was not answered immediately.


Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.