Bolt, a transportation company, raised $109 million in new funding round from London-based investment firm, Naya Capital Management. Bolt is now valued at $1.9 billion. It is investing the new capital into its ride-hailing, food delivery and e-scooter rental services as it looks to restore operations as lockdowns ease.
The Estonia-based company is announcing that it has picked up an additional €100 million ($109 million) in a convertible note. Bolt also confirmed that is now valued at €1.7 billion (or nearly $1.9 billion at today’s rates).
The money is coming from a single investor, Naya Capital Management, which was also a major backer of the company in its last round, a $67 million Series C in July 2019.
The funding is one more example of how investors are continuing to support their most promising, and/or most capitalised, portfolio companies as they face drastic losses of business during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can only be more complicated for a startup built on a business model that — even in the best of times — is very capital-intensive.
Bolt — which says it has 30 million users in over 35 countries globally — says that the worst of the lull in business was two months ago and that it’s been slowly recovering since.
Formerly known as Taxify, Bolt rebranded last year as it expanded beyond private car rides into other areas like electric scooters and food delivery — and the plan will be to use this funding to expand all three business areas in the coming months, along with newer product categories like Business Delivery in-city same-day courier services and Bolt Protect for people to continue to use its ride-hailing services by kitting out cars with plastic sheeting between driver and passenger seats.
Uber, Bolt’s publicly traded business rival, has laid bare just how painful the pandemic has been for business. The company, which had raised billions of dollars as a privately-backed startup, has laid off nearly 7,000 employees in recent weeks, and while we currently have little visibility of the impact this has had on the contractors Uber engages to move people, food and other items in its network, its next quarterly earnings (which will cover the full brunt of the pandemic) should more clearly spell out the drop-off in the overall business.
Bolt notes that so far, it hasn’t laid off any of its 1,500 employees as Uber and others have, although it has cut salaries between 20 percent and 30 percent across the board. The spokesperson said that it’s now slowly returning salaries to pre-COVID levels. While it doesn’t go into financial details, it does acknowledge that business is not business as usual.