Bolt (company)

Bolt
FormerlymTakso, Taxify
Industry
FoundedAugust 2013; 9 years ago (2013-08)
FounderMarkus Villig
HeadquartersTallinn, Estonia
Area served
45 countries in Europe, Africa, Western Asia, Asia and Latin America
ProductsMobile app, website
ServicesTransportation network company, scooter-sharing system, food delivery, grocery delivery, car-sharing
RevenueIncrease over €500 million (2021)
Websitebolt.eu

Bolt is an Estonian mobility company that offers vehicle for hire, micromobility, car-sharing, and food delivery services headquartered in Tallinn and operating in over 500 cities in more than 45 countries in Europe, Africa, Western Asia and Latin America. The company has more than 100 million customers globally and more than 3 million partners use Bolt's platforms to offer rides and deliveries to customers.

History

Bolt (then Taxify) was founded by Markus Villig (then only a 19 year-old, a high-school student) in 2013, with a vision to aggregate all Tallinn and Riga taxis into one platform. He developed the first version of the mobile app with €5,000 borrowed from his parents. The service was launched in Tallinn, Estonia in August 2013 and by 2014 it was operating abroad.

Availability of Bolt, as of May 2022:
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Markus Villig, Founder & CEO, Bolt
Markus Villig, Founder & CEO, Bolt on Centre Stage during day three of Web Summit 2021 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.

In 2017, Bolt launched its services in London by acquiring a local taxi company with a licence to operate, but was forced by Transport for London to shut down its services. The company has filed a new licence application and relaunched in London in June 2019.

Following the setback in London, Bolt launched its services in Paris and Lisbon.

In September 2018, the company announced expanding into dockless electric kick scooters and launched them in Paris. The company also said it planned to release these scooters in several other European and Australian cities where the app was already established, but would also launch in new markets where vehicle for hire services face significant regulatory roadblocks, including Germany and Spain.

In June 2019, Bolt re-launched in London with 20,000 drivers registered on the platform.

In August 2019, the company rolled out its food delivery service, Bolt Food. Bolt Food launched in Tallinn, with the plans to expand to more cities in Europe and Africa later this year.

In September 2019, Bolt announced its "Green Plan", an initiative to reduce the ecological footprint of the transportation industry and Bolt as a company. The Green Plan goals include offsetting Bolt's contribution to the CO₂ emissions of the European transportation sector by at least 5 million tonnes by 2025 and adding more green ride-types for passengers to choose from.

In March 2019, and in 2020, Bolt was ranked third in the FT 1000: Europe's Fastest Growing Companies published by the Financial Times.

In May 2021, Bolt launched a car-sharing service, Bolt Drive.

Bolt Scooter
A Bolt Scooter parked in Halle (Saale), Germany.
Bolt's self-driving car prototype
Bolt's self-driving car prototype

On 22 June 2021, the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) in the UK called a 24-hour strike and staged a protest against Bolt at the company's West London offices. The union demanded that Bolt also observe the recent UK Supreme Court ruling against Uber and treat its drivers as workers with the right to the UK national minimum wage and holiday pay. ADCU London President Abdurzak Hadi said: “Bolt can no longer just bury its head in the sand and pretend that their drivers and our members are not entitled to the same rights as Uber drivers. This strike and protest is Bolt’s last chance to do the right thing, obey the law and respect their drivers." The union threatened legal action on worker rights if Bolt did not comply with its demands, that also included, that Bolt should increase its fares to £2 per mile, and end all unfair driver dismissals.

In late February 2022, Bolt, alongside Uber, announced plans to distance themselves from the Russian Companies they are associated with, and Bolt announced that they have stopped selling products produced in or by Russian companies. Bolt also pledged to keep its services running in Ukraine during the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

Financing

Prior to announcing a strategic partnership with Didi Chuxing, Bolt had raised over €2 million in investment capital from Estonian and Finnish angel investors. In August 2017, Didi Chuxing invested an undisclosed amount believed to be an "eight-figure U.S. dollar sum". A May 2018 funding round with a $175 million investment from Daimler, Didi and others led to a 1 billion dollar valuation for the company, making it a unicorn.

In January 2020, the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a EUR 50 million venture debt facility with Bolt. The financing, supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), is to boost Bolt's product development in areas where technology can improve the safety, reliability and sustainability of its services. This includes investment in existing services such as vehicle for hire and food delivery, as well as the development of new products.

In December 2020, Bolt raised €150 million from venture capital funds.

In March 2021, Bolt raised €20 million from IFC, a World Bank Group member, for further expansion in emerging markets. The company was valued at more than €2 billion after this fund raising round.

In August 2021, Bolt raised €600 million from Sequoia Capital increasing the valuation of the company to over €4 billion.

In January 2022, Bolt raised €628 million from investors led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Management and Research Co, taking the company's valuation to €7.4 billion.

Milestones

  • Became the first transportation app in the world to allow customers to pay for their trips via mobile carrier billing.
  • Became the #2 travel app in South Africa, and #1 travel app in Kenya and Nigeria in 2017.
  • Became larger than Uber in Africa in 2018.
  • Reached 10 million customers in May 2018.
  • Expanded into electric kick scooters in September 2018 and became the first platform integrating these scooters with vehicle for hire services in one mobile app.
  • Rebranded to Bolt and reached 25 million passengers in February 2019.
  • Launched in London in June 2019.
  • Launched in Tunis in July 2019.[citation needed]
  • Launched Bolt Food in August 2019.
  • Launched Bolt electric kick scooters in Russia 2020.
  • Launched car-sharing service Bolt Drive in May 2021.
  • Launched grocery delivery service, Bolt Market, in September 2021.

Environmental sustainability

Bolt is alleging that the company is heading towards a more environmentally sustainable model. According to EuroNews, since September 2019, Bolt rides in Europe are 100% carbon-neutral.

Self-driving technology research

In August 2019, Bolt and the University of Tartu announced their partnership on an applied research project to develop self-driving technology for a Level 4 autonomous car. The joint-research programme set a goal for integrating autonomous vehicles (AVs) on Bolt's transportation app by 2026.

In April 2021, Bolt and the University of Tartu agreed to expand their cooperation on the AV project, signing a new 5-year agreement designed to further develop the technical capabilities of the university's autonomous driving lab in the areas of artificial intelligence and maps and algorithms to create better conditions for connecting technology to urban traffic infrastructures.

Criticism

Some drivers have issues with the company related to safety and remuneration; in early 2020 they staged a demonstration by blocking Bolt offices in South Africa.


This page was last updated at 2022-09-27 13:34 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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