DiDi-backed Estonian ride-sharing startup Bolt raises $182m from investors

Photo: Reuters

Estonian transportation startup Bolt said on Wednesday it had raised 150 million euros ($182 million) from investors, becoming the latest European player to win funding as the coronavirus pandemic changes the way people get around.

Bolt, previously known as Taxify, competes with Uber in ride-hailing. It also operates electric scooters, launched food delivery last year, and is expanding to cover 200 cities in 40 countries across Europe and Africa.

As governments imposed lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus, ride-hailing and transportation startups have benefited as city dwellers switch away from public transport and those stuck at home order in more meals.

“We have almost doubled our number of customers (this year) and launched our services from ride-hailing to micromobility and food delivery in 50 new cities,” said Markus Villig, Bolt’s 26-year-old chief executive officer and co-founder.

Bolt, which Villig set up in 2013 after dropping out of college, will invest proceeds from the funding round into safety enhancements, in addition to the SOS buttons already in both its rider and driver apps.

Further safety measures planned in 2021 include driver face verification and automated trip monitoring using predictive artificial intelligence to avoid potentially risky situations.

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The company, which recently launched a scooter that detects unsafe riding patterns, has set its sights on becoming Europe’s top e-scooter rental company and plans to launch in 100 cities next season.

Takeup of Bolt’s scooters has been “exploding”, Villig told Reuters, adding that revenue from two-wheelers could catch up with ride-hailing in some markets in as little as two years after launch.

Bolt was able to compete as a price leader thanks to synergies from its technology platform, which supports a common app for ride-hailing and scooters, he added. The firm’s revenue run rate is now more than 2 billion euros.

The company faces well-funded competition in the e-scooter stakes: Berlin-based Tier Mobility raised $250 million from investors in November, while Sweden’s VOI Technology pulled in $160 million this month.

The Series D investment round was led by D1 Capital Partners, with the participation of Darsana Capital Partners.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.