Bolt Mobility, a Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympian Usain Bolt, appears to have disappeared from several US markets without a trace.
In some cases, the departure has been sudden, leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails, and a plethora of questions.
Bolt has stopped operations in at least five US cities, including Portland, Oregon, Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski in Vermont and Richmond, California, according to city officials. City officials also said they were unable to contact anyone at Bolt, including its CEO, Ignacio Zumas.
TechCrunch has repeatedly tried to contact Bolt and those who have supported the company. Emails to Bolt’s communications department, several employees and investors went unanswered. Even the customer service line is not working. PR agency that was presents Bolt in March told TechCrunch this year that he was no longer with the company.
Bolt ceased operations in Portland on July 1st. Due to the company’s failure to provide the city with updated insurance and to pay some outstanding fees, Portland subsequently suspended Bolt’s authorization to operate in the city, a city spokesman said.
The bolt comes closer than it stops
Bolt Mobility (not to be confused with the European Transport Super App, also called Bolt) was on a growth streak about 18 months ago. Company purchased in January 2021 assets of Last Mile Holdings, which owned the micromobility companies Gotcha and OjO Electric. The buyer opened up 48 new markets for Bolt Mobility, most of which were smaller cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, St. Augustine, Florida and Mobile, Alabama.
After purchasing the assets of The Last Mile, Bolt agreed to continue as a bicycle salesman in Chittenden County, Vermont, including the cities of Burlington, South Burlington, and Winooski.
That license was even renewed in 2022, said Brian Davis, the county’s senior transportation planner.
“We learned a couple of weeks ago (from them) that Bolt was going out of business,” Davis told TechCrunch via email, noting that Bolt went out of business on July 1 but actually briefed the county a week later. “They have disappeared, leaving equipment, emails and calls unanswered. We can’t contact anyone, but it looks like they’ve closed stores in other markets as well.”
Sandy Thiebaud, chief executive of the Chittenden Region Transportation Management Association, told reporters. Burlington Free Press that Bolt said employees were being laid off and the company’s board of directors was discussing next steps.
A Burlington spokesperson relayed similar information.
“All of our contacts at Bolt, including their CEO, went silent on the radio and didn’t respond to our emails,” Robert Goulding, public relations manager at the Burlington Department of Public Works, told TechCrunch.
Davis went on to say that about 100 bikes were left lying on the ground completely inoperable and with dead batteries. Chittenden County has given Bolt a deadline within which to claim or seize the company’s vehicles, otherwise the county will take ownership of them.
According to Richmond Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum, Bolt has also stopped operations in Richmond, California.
“Unfortunately, Bolt appears to have ceased operations without prior notice or removal of major equipment from city property,” wrote Butt. “Recently, they missed their monthly town meeting registration and weren’t responding to all of their customers in all of their markets.”
Butt went on to say the city is developing a plan to remove all abandoned equipment — about 250 e-bikes that were available at key points such as BART stations and the ferry terminal — and asked people to refrain from vandalizing bikes until the city can find a solution. .
TechCrunch has contacted several other cities where Bolt operates and has been unable to confirm that the company has gone out of business entirely. In fact, a St. Augustine spokesperson told TechCrunch that the share of Bolt bikes is operating as normal.
Bolt’s social media has also been fairly inactive in recent weeks. The company has not posted on Instagram since June 11, and on Twitter since June 2.
TechCrunch last heard about Bolt nine months ago when the company was trading its an in-app navigation system they called “MobilityOS”. At the time, the startup promised that its next-generation scooters would include a smartphone mount that could double as a phone charger, but it’s unclear if these scooters will ever hit the streets.
Bolt publicly raised $40.2 million, this amount does not include undisclosed investment of Indian company Ram Charan Company in May. Investors could not be contacted for comment.
Credit: techcrunch.com /