Ridesharing

Estonia’s Bolt Closes $55M Deal To Compete With Uber

Uber rival Bolt has closed a €50 million funding deal from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to help the startup scale throughout Europe and improve its technology, according to reports on Thursday (Jan. 16).

Bolt is a good example of European excellence in tech and innovation … the bank is very happy to support the company in improving its services, as well as allowing it to branch out into new service fields. In other words, we’re fully on board,” said Alexander Stubb, president of EIB.

The $55.6 million venture loan offers the benefits of a long-term loan with repayment terms based on the company’s performance.

Tallinn, Estonia-based Bolt is one of several startups trying to topple Uber’s control in the ride-hailing space. Founded in 2013, the company was formerly called Taxify and rebranded to include additional offerings, like food delivery and scooters.

The company was started by Bolt CEO Markus Villig when he was a 19-year-old college dropout. The platform has 30 million users in 35 countries and 150 cities across Europe and Africa.

“Mobility is one of the areas where Europe will really benefit from a local champion who shares the values of European consumers and regulators,” Villig said. “Therefore, we are thrilled to have the European Investment Bank join the ranks of Bolt’s backers, as this will enable us to move faster toward serving many more people in Europe.”

The startup reached unicorn status when it was valued at over $1 billion in a 2019 funding round.

The funding comes as Uber faces a possible ban in London by transportation regulator Transport for London. The ridesharing firm is still operating there while it appeals the decision.

Bolt rolled out in London last June. The EIB said Bolt is now making money in roughly 75 percent of its markets, and referred to it as “Europe’s leading on-demand transportation platform.”

Bolt started food delivery in Estonia in August and is planning to launch a similar service in other countries in Europe and Africa. In Estonia, Bolt delivers from around 80 restaurants in Tallinn, the capital of the Eastern European country.

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