Uber rival Bolt seeks to turn profitable next year, IPO in 2025

Bolt CEO Markus Villig attends an interview at the company's offices in Stockholm

Estonia’s Bolt, a ride-hailing and food delivery start-up, anticipates attaining profitability within the next 12 months, with a potential initial public offering (IPO) in 2025, according to CEO Markus Villig. The company, a competitor of Uber, was valued at over $8 billion when it raised 628 million euros from investors in January of last year. “We expect to be the first European mobility platform that will be fully profitable over the next 12 months,” said Villig. Uber is also anticipating posting operating income profitability this year.

Bolt, headed by 29-year-old Villig, plans to become IPO-ready instead of raising external capital through another funding round. “We are planning to be ready to go public in 2025,” he said, adding that a final decision will be subject to market conditions at that time. The startup, which also offers electric scooter rentals, car-sharing, and grocery delivery service, has a focus on Africa, where it serves 50 million of its 150 million customers.

“Out of all the African countries, we’ve so far only launched in seven… over the next 10 years Africa remains a massive opportunity for us,” Villig said. Additionally, Bolt is examining whether it can solve the payment landscape in Africa, where many people are more likely to have a mobile phone than a bank account. “Maybe we should go into that one day,” he said.

Bolt has not publicly disclosed its revenue, but Villig stated that the company processes single-digit billions of dollars of transactions on the platform every year. Furthermore, the firm expects its grocery business to break even or become profitable in two to three years. The food delivery industry, where companies such as Bolt, Just Eat Takeaway.com, and Uber Eats charge more for delivery to cover the costs of higher wages, is fiercely competitive.

“The mistake that some platforms make is that if you only focus on the lowest prices, you can end up with very bad availability of cars because drivers will not be happy,” Villig said. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s boost to the food delivery sector, the effect has dwindled as consumers, faced with rising prices, have cut back on discretionary spending. Bolt’s ride-hailing business is its largest, charging a commission of 20% to 23% of the fare, which can be as low as 10% if drivers opt for promotions like putting a Bolt sticker on their cars.

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