Bolt posts €547.2 million losses for 2021

Bolt rental cars.
Bolt rental cars. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonian unicorn Bolt reported losses of €547.2 million for 2021, though its turnover rose by 126 percent on year, to €500 million last year.

Parent company Bolt Technology OÜ operates the Bolt brand, which in turn offers e-scooter rental, car rental and food courier services, in addition to its original taxi-hailing app service.

Founded by the Villig brothers, Martin and Markus, the latter owns the largest single stake in the company, of over 17 percent, via an Estonian-registered company, Mordor Management OÜ.

At the end of last year, the Bolt group comprised 48 companies.

Last August, the company reported a loss for 2020 of €45 million, but his deepened by over €500 million to this year's figure.

Together with losses from the previous periods, the accumulated loss totals €592 million

Bolt says the 2021 figures are as forecast and are in line with the company's business strategy.

In 2021, the company paid wages of €80.6 million, while top management was paid €261,000. 

The number of employees increased from 1,798 to 3,003 employees last year, while the company says it wants to grow this even further this year.

Bolt has €241.6 million in its bank accounts and €25.1 million in short-term deposits.

Nearly 70 percent of the 2021 turnover derived from its taxi-hailing app services, with smaller amounts from food delivery, partnership agreements and bicycle and scooter rental.

Around a third of sales revenue was earned in the African market, and two thirds in Europe. 

The company also reported outstanding claims against drivers or couriers of approximately €10 million, of which approximately €5 million are overdue by more than half a year and will be written off.

Bolt spent €72 million on the purchase of e-scooters last year.

Bolt operates in more than 45 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and entered the German, Norwegian and Spanish markets last year, as well as expanding to new cities in existing markets.

Bolt invested in expanding the company and launched two new business lines, the car rental service Bolt Drive, which, in Estonia at least, can be accessed via the same app as the e-scooter and ride-hailing services, and the grocery ordering service Bolt Market, which can be found via the separate Bolt Food app.

Bolt has recently stated that in the case of the latter app, it acts as a mediator between those ordering food and those delivering it; end users i.e. those ordering the food are not its customers, Bolt says, but rather the couriers – whether they deliver by car, motorbike, bicycle or e-scooter.

The company met with some controversy lately over its tax structure which, so far, has avoided paying income tax potentially totaling millions in respect of earnings on the part of its food couriers. The companies calls these payments "incentives", "market fees" or "agency fees", among other terms, while the company acts as a 'mediator'. The Ministry of Finance has stood by Bolt's business model as helping to foster innovation.

Bolt is one of Estonia's unicorns, which now number nearly a dozen, referring to a company which is worth one billion US Dollars or more.

One of its main competitors Estonia in the food ordering market is the Finnish-owned Wolt, in the ride-hailing app market, Forus, in the e-scooter sector, Tuul and in the short-term car rental sector, Citybee.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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