Carpooling and ridesharing startups seem to be on the up in Europe at the moment, and today Carpooling.com, which bills itself as the continent’s largest ridesharing network, has announced that it’s hiring a former high-ranking Yahoo executive as its new CEO, as it prepares to expand into the US.

Markus Barnikel, who has previously been both Global Director of Sales at Yahoo USA and Chief Sales Officer at Yahoo Australia, has been named as Managing Director and CEO of Carpooling.com, a network with operations in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Poland. In all, the network boasts over two million unique users per month, with 600,000 rides in 5000 cities and 45 countries offered.

Bookings to share a ride with another user can be made via the service’s website, iPhone and Android apps, and via a Facebook app. Carpooling.com takes a share of the revenue from transactions, and gets additional income by selling public transport tickets.

The Germany-based service’s co-founders, Michael Reinicke, Matthias Siedler and Stefan Weber, will continue to serve on its board of directors. Weber says in today’s announcement that he sees Barnikel as “What Eric Schmidt was to the founders of Google – he brings a very different skill set and over ten years of successfully managing growth in international markets.”

Carpooling.com’s plans for the US may be a challenge. As we recently reported, the co-founder of rival ridesharing firm Comuto believes that lower fuel costs and other overheads makes car ownership less painful there. Still, Carpooling.com will face competition from native startups like Zimcar.