Bolt Sees Recruiting ‘Hundreds of Thousands’ of New Drivers to Fill Gaps
(Bloomberg) -- Estonian mobility startup Bolt Technology OU expects to bring on “hundreds of thousands” more drivers to fill a shortage over the coming six months, as demand surges more than 50% from pre-pandemic levels.
Uber Technologies Inc. has also struggled to recruit enough drivers as post-lockdown demand picked up, and lifted prices 10% in London to attract applicants. Bolt, meanwhile, is allowing its drivers in the U.K. to set their own prices.
Drivers are “slowly starting to come back” but “demand has rebounded so much faster,” Bolt Chief Executive Officer and Founder Markus Villig said in an interview. “The competition for drivers is super intense. And I think naturally it’s going to resolve itself in probably six months.”
Backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and the European Investment Bank, Bolt has 2.5 million drivers on its platform and last raised 600 million euros ($675 million) at a more than 4-billion euro valuation in August. The company is active in 45 countries and is now building out a suite of offerings on its app including scooters and restaurant ordering.
Bolt is expanding its services and geographies, including a pilot of 15-minute grocery delivery. Villig said it’s also eyeing an expansion of its car-sharing service from Estonia to seven new countries in the coming year, and “doubling down” on services in Africa.
“The opportunity is massive,” Villig said, adding that the company wants to be ready for an initial public offering within a year or two but isn’t in a rush. “Most likely we’re going to raise some new funding in the next couple of months.”
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