Bolt Raises $339 Million to Further ‘Democratize’ Commerce

Bolt’s Founder and CEO Ryan Breslow is one of those young tech leaders who share their thinking on, well, everything, via long Twitter threads. So he had a lot to share yesterday after his company announced a $339 million funding round, which propelled the company’s valuation to $6 billion.

The company has raised $600 million since its 2014 founding. It released V of its checkout plaform in 2016. Today, retailers ranging from Forever 21 to Casper leverage Bolt’s checkout technology.

Bolt’s stated mission is to “democratize commerce”.  And one way to do this make the online checkout process effortless. And embedded anywhere. By doing so, Bolt hopes to make online merchants more competitive with Amazon’s seamless checkout experience. The company plans to invest heavily in its product with the new round.

“We’ll use our funding to accelerate the pace of our product innovation, which will include tools that enable shoppers to checkout on any page on which they discover content,” Breslow said in a blog post announcing the raise. “No link-outs, no redirecting to a retailer’s page. And, for 10M+ existing Bolt users, no registration or forms. Just one click.”

18X Valuation Jump

The new funding breaks down as $333 million in Series D funding, plus $60 million in follow-on capital. The company’s valuation is about 18X what it was about 18 months ago.

Some new investors came in with this round. They include Untitled Investments, Willoughby Capital, and Soma Capital. They joined existing investors General Atlantic, Tribe Capital, Activant Capital, and Moore Strategic Venture. This new raise brings Bolt’s total funding to more than $600 million.

“This funding brings us one step closer to ending guest checkout on the internet,” Breslow said in his post. “Retailers and brands crave a network outside the major marketplaces and the ability to offer their customers consistent experiences. Shoppers, meanwhile, want a single identity to shop securely, wherever they are.”

In his Twitter thread, Breslow said “accelerating our network effect” was one of the keys to putting Bolt in a position to raise such a huge round. And to be in a position to help companies compete with Amazon.

The Four-Day Workweek

Breslow and Bolt have also made news for their contribution to the conversation on what the “new normal” or work will look like in the post-pandemic era. He shifted the San Francisco-based Bolt to a four-day workweek.

Breslow says this decision has been a critical success factor for the fintech company.

“Bolt became the first tech unicorn to take a radical new approach to work,” Breslow Tweeted. “We introduced the 4 day work week. Recognizing and harnessing wellness has been a secret weapon.”

Yet Breslow at times seems to toggles between the language of hustle culture and wellness culture.

For example, he said this in another Twitter thread explaining how he aligned Bolt’s culture to achieve rapid scale.

“When you grow 10x in 10 months, even if someone is growing at 4x, it’s not fast enough,” Breslow wrote. “We had direct conversations with folks who weren’t scaling. Many of them stepped up to the plate. All it took was one candid and caring conversation.”

Later in the same thread he wrote, “We don’t care about hours worked. We stopped praising late nights. We started praising mental, physical and emotional health so everyone could bring their best self to the job.”

There may not be a contradiction between scaling at all costs while prioriting work-life balance. But it sure seems like there is.

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