Bolt Mobility, a Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, has disappeared without a trace from many of its US markets.
In some cases, departures have been sudden, leaving cities with abandoned devices, unanswered calls and emails, and tons of questions.
According to city officials, Bolt has stopped operating in at least five US cities, including Portland, Oregon, Burlington, South Burlington and Winowski in Vermont, and Richmond, California. City representatives also said they were unable to reach anyone at Bolt, including its CEO Ignacio Tzoumas.
TechCrunch has made several efforts to reach out to those who support Bolt and the company. Emails to Bolt’s communications department, several employees and investors remained unanswered. Even the customer service line doesn’t have staff. In March of this year the PR agency representing Bolt told TechCrunch it was no longer working with the company.
Bolt ceased service at Portland on 1 July. After the company’s failure to provide the city with updated insurance and pay some outstanding fees, Portland suspended Bolt’s permit, according to a city spokesman.
Bolt zooms in comparison to stalls
Bolt Mobility (not to be confused with the European transport super app Bolt) was on a growth streak about 18 months ago. The company acquired the assets of Last Mile Holdings in January 2021, which was owned by micromobility companies Gocha and Ojo Electric. Buyer opened 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 Last Mile property, Bolt agreed to continue as a bike share seller in Chittenden County, Vermont, which includes the cities of Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski.
That license was also renewed in 2022, said Brian Davis, the county’s senior transportation planner.
“We learned from[them]a few weeks ago that Bolt was ceasing operations,” Davis told TechCrunch via email. “They have disappeared, leaving devices and emails and calls unanswered. We haven’t been able to reach anyone, but they seem to have closed up shop in other markets as well.”
Sandy Thibault, executive director of the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association, told the Burlington Free Press that Bolt told employees that employees were being let go and the company’s board of directors were discussing next steps.
A Burlington spokesman gave similar information.
“All of our contacts at Bolt, including their CEO, have gone radio silent and have not responded to our emails,” Robert Golding, public information manager for Burlington’s Department of Public Works, told TechCrunch.
Davis further said that about 100 bikes have been left on the ground with batteries completely inoperative and dead. Chittenden County has given Bolt a deadline to claim or remove the company’s vehicles or else the county will take ownership of them.
According to Richmond Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum, it appears that Bolt has stopped working in Richmond, California.
Butt wrote, “Unfortunately, Bolt went out of business without prior notice or without removing his capital equipment from city property.” “They recently missed the city’s monthly meeting check-in and have been unresponsive to all of their customers in all their markets.”
Butt further said that the city is coming up with a plan to remove all abandoned equipment – about 250 e-bikes that were available at hub locations such as BART stations and ferry terminals – and ask people to avoid ruining the bikes until then. As long as the city can come up with a solution.
TechCrunch has reached out to several other cities where the Bolt operates and has not been able to confirm whether the company has stopped operating completely. Indeed, a spokesperson for St. Augustine told TechCrunch that Bolt’s bike share was operating as usual.
Bolt’s social media has also been pretty inactive in recent weeks. The company hasn’t posted on Instagram since June 11 or on Twitter since June 2.
TechCrunch last heard from Bolt nine months ago when the company was selling its in-app navigation system it dubbed “MobilityOS.” At the time, the startup promised that its next-generation scooters would include a smartphone mount that would double as a phone charger, but it is unclear whether these scooters would ever hit the roads.
Bolt has publicly raised $40.2 million, an amount not including an undisclosed investment from India’s Ram Charan Company in May. Investors there could not be reached for comment.