Hailo was not forced out of the U.S. and would not rule out a return to the market, the taxi app's CEO told CNBC, just days after the company shut down its American operations and launched new services in a bid to fight back against rivals.
Intense competition from firms such as Uber and Lyft and "astronomical" marketing costs saw Hailo cease its North American operations and hubs in Washington, Boston, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto. Jay Bregman, co-founder and co-chief executive also left the company.
But Hailo's boss insisted that the company was not ousted from the U.S. and would consider a return when the time was right.
"First I wouldn't say we were being pushed out of the U.S.," Tom Barr, CEO of Hailo, said.
Hailo operates by partnering with existing taxi services -- unlike competitors Uber and ridesharing app Lyft. But rather than blaming his business model, Barr attributed a tough regulatory environment in North America to the company's exit.
"The regulations (are) still very up in the air…we just didn't want to be involved in it at the time. And then the…fleets, really the relationship with them and how to work with the regulation…became too messy…and to put all that marketing money to compete in a price war with those two variables in the air just didn't make sense for us," Barr said.
Hailo has received over $100m in funding from venture capital groups including Accel Partners, Wellington Partners and Atomico Ventures. The taxi app launched a feature on Thursday called Pay with Hailo which allows customers to flag down a Hailo cab in the street and pay through it via the app. Previously a user could only pay via the app if it hailed the taxi through it.
The start-up also launched Hailo Hub which lets hotels, bars and other venues book multiple rides with several drop offs.
Taxi apps have been having a tough time recently. Black cab drivers were outraged earlier this year when Hailo decided to open its app up to private hire vehicles. Meanwhile, one of Uber's services ran into a temporary ban in Germany last month over concerns that drivers without proper licenses could be operating.
But the headwinds have not stopped the expansion of any of these services. Hailo said it is expanding Liverpool, Leeds and Singapore and Barr told CNBC that he would not rule out a return to the U.S.
"We are making sure the regulatory environment is right for us when we come back, we really want some of that to settle down before we actually re-enter," Barr said.
"Some day we will be back in the U.S., I think it will be a time when the U.S. work out how it wants to work in the transportation arena."