Uber rival Bolt raises €100m to expand product offerings in Europe & Africa

Estonia’s Bolt, one of Uber’s biggest competitors in the European ride-hailing market, has raised €100m (£88m) in funding to prepare for a post-coronavirus world.

This sees the total raised by Bolt top €300m, while its valuation has nearly doubled since May 2018, when it was valued at $1bn.

The funding round comes at a challenging time for Bolt, with the coronavirus causing a slump in demand for ride-hailing services that is believed to have had a severe impact on its bottom line. However, today’s news suggests that its efforts to diversify are paying off.

“Even though the crisis has temporarily changed how we move, the long-term trends that drive on-demand mobility such as declining personal car ownership and the shift towards greener transportation continue to grow,” said chief executive Markus Villig on Tuesday.

Bolt, which currently operates in more than 150 cities across Europe and Africa, said it had recently accelerated the expansion of its food delivery service and launched a service that helps goods vendors offer same-day delivery.

It also launched Bolt Protect, which is aimed at essential workers. Its cars are fitted with protective plastic sheeting that limits the airflow between the driver and its customers.

The funding round comes just a few months after the company raised €50m (£44m) from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, was valued at over $1bn in a funding round in 2019. The company did not disclose its latest valuation.

The ride-hailing start-up is near identical to Uber (UBER) in function. But while Uber has raised tens of billions since it was founded in 2009, Tuesday’s haul from Naya Capital Management, a global investment manager, brings Bolt’s total raise to around €300m.

Bolt launched in London last June and was profitable in approximately two-thirds of its global markets prior to the coronavirus crisis.

Villig has previously extolled the benefits of raising less money, noting that it helped his firm focus on growing sustainably.