Time and again it’s proven that neither the investment nor the brand endorsement guaranty success for a startup. An e-bike-sharing startup, Bolt Mobility, that was co-founded by eight-time Olympic Gold medalist Usain Bolt seems to have closed down abruptly, TechCrunch reports. This highlights recent problems in the micro-mobility industry.
Bolt Mobility was present around five cities, including Richmond, Vermont, Burlington, and Vermont in California. The company, however, has suddenly shut down its operations without any prior intimation and left abandoned equipment, unanswered calls & emails behind.
“We were informed by them a few weeks ago that Bolt was ceasing operations,” said a transportation planner from Chittenden County in Vermont to TechCrunch.
But the process of winding up operations is really weird. The company disappeared, leaving behind equipment and unanswered emails. We are unable to reach them, it appears they have closed their doors in other markets as well.
Just 18 months ago, Bolt Mobility decided to expand when it purchased the assets of Last Mile Holdings, which ran Gotcha and OjO Electric. This acquisition opened 48 new markets for Bolt Mobility in mostly smaller cities such as Raleigh, NC, and Mobile, Alabama.
It’s important to note that you must not confuse Bolt Mobility with the Bolt scooter-sharing app and ride-sharing app in Europe.
In spite of being backed by Usain Bolt, Bolt Mobility was denied permission to operate in Portland in July because of outstanding fees and insurance issues. Burlington spokeswoman said that about 100 bikes were inoperable with dead batteries. The city requested the company to claim the abandoned bikes before it comes into action and takes over ownership. However, all the requests and warnings apparently fell on deaf ears as all Bolt’s contacts, including their CEO and CEO, had gone radio silent and didn’t respond to emails.
Scooter startups such as Bird have failed on market validation. Bird has fallen on hard times after being founded as a billion-dollar “unicorn.” Bird’s problem is that it charges an excessive amount for a rental, about $6 per 20 minutes — a lot more than a bus or metro ride. The company’s revenue was down by 40% YoY to just $79 million in 2020. After a SPAC merger, Bird’s stock price plummeted from $10 to just under 50 cents today.
The startup has so far raised a $40.2 million investment. However, the amount doesn’t include an undisclosed investment from India’s Ram Charan Company in May.
The biggest challenge for authorities now is to get hundreds of abandoned e-bikes off the road.