Bolt has raised $709M, valuing the company at $8.4B. The same-named startup and app provides on-demand ride-hailing, shared vehicles and scooters, as well as restaurant and grocery delivery.
It will use the funds to continue expanding to new geographies and bringing more consumers and partners to its “super app”; and newer business lines, such as its 15-minute grocery delivery service Bolt Market.
It will build out “dark stores” in more cities to expand the service beyond the 10 where it is currently active.
“All of our business units are increasing,” said Markus Villig, the company’s founder and CEO, in an interview this week.
“A new trend from last year is that private vehicles are a negative thing, and people are increasingly wanting to use other modes of transportation.”
Bolt is also working with more city governments to expand its services as part of their updated transportation goals, according to him.
Whale Rock, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), D1, G Squared, Tekne, Ghisallo, and other unknown backers also participated in the round, which was co-led by Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Management, and Research Company LLC.
The funding news caps off an eventful few months for the company, which had raised €600 million at a valuation of over €4 billion only four months earlier in a Series E also led by Sequoia.
Bolt’s services are presently used by over 100 million people in 45 countries and 400+ cities. The company has 75 million customers in August, when it announced the last round, as a metric of its expansion.
Bolt was founded eight years ago in Tallinn, Estonia (originally as Taxify) with a mission to bring ride-hailing to emerging markets and countries where others like Uber had yet to establish a strong foothold, a strategy that it used to modestly expand across regions like Central and Eastern Europe and Africa, attracting investors like China’s Didi, which had built a massive business in its own emerging market. (Didi secretly sold its Bolt investment last year).
The focus has stayed on Europe and Africa over time, but Bolt discovered that many of the lessons learned from those early launches could be applied just as successfully in more industrialized countries, with more profitable payoffs.
Meanwhile, Bolt’s diversification strategy, which includes scooters, couriers, and now food delivery services in addition to automobiles, is part of its scaling strategy.
Putting all of the alternatives and cross-promotions under a single app not only helps Bolt draw in new consumers and cross-sell to them, but it also does so with basically zero marketing costs, according to Villig.
“Synergies and shared expenses between these verticals are two things that set us apart and are working in our favor,” he said.
“Most of our competitors are focused on one item in each app, and we aren’t,” Villig continued, “so it’s quicker and less expensive for Bolt to build more services off the back of each other.”
“We’re now passing those savings on to our customers.”
In a statement to TechCrunch, Andrew Reed, a partner at Sequoia, stated, “We’re delighted to strengthen our engagement with Markus and Bolt to continue their aim to make urban transit inexpensive, sustainable, and safe.”
“At Sequoia, we believe in the global potential for technology and entrepreneurship, and Bolt’s expansion from Tallinn, Estonia to over 400 cities and 100 million users across Europe and Africa has inspired us.”
We’re excited to work with them to extend their footprint, broaden their product offering, and improve the long-term quality of life in cities.”