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Updated: Article updated to add the city of Richmond and the county of Montgomery in Virginia, as well as St. Augustine, Florida also confirming service has ended there.
Bolt Mobility, the Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, appears to have vanished without a trace from several of its U.S. markets.
In some cases, the departure has been abrupt, leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails, and lots of questions.
Bolt has stopped operating in at least eight U.S. cities, including Portland, Oregon, Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski in Vermont, Richmond, California and Richmond, Virginia, and St. Augustine, Florida according to city officials. Some city representatives also said they were unable to reach anyone at Bolt, including its CEO Ignacio Tzoumas.
TechCrunch has made multiple attempts to reach Bolt and those who have backed the company. Emails to Bolt’s communications department, several employees and investors went unanswered. Even the customer service line doesn't appear to be staffed.
Bolt halted its service in Portland on July 1. Because of the company’s failure to provide the city with updated insurance and pay some outstanding fees, Portland subsequently suspended Bolt’s permit to operate there, according to a city spokesperson.
Bolt zooms then stalls
Bolt Mobility (not to be confused with the European transportation super app also named Bolt) was on what appeared to be a growth streak about 18 months ago. The company acquired in January 2021 the assets of Last Mile Holdings, which owned micromobility companies Gotcha and OjO Electric. The purchaser opened up 48 new markets to Bolt Mobility, most of which were smaller cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, St. Augustine, Florida and Mobile, Alabama.
After purchasing Last Mile's assets, Bolt agreed to continue as the bike-share vendor in Chittenden County, Vermont, including cities Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski.
That license was even renewed in 2022, said Bryan Davis, senior transportation planner of the county.
“We learned a couple of weeks ago (from them) that Bolt is ceasing operations,” Davis told TechCrunch via email, noting that Bolt ceased operations July 1, but actually informed the county a week later. “They’ve vanished, leaving equipment behind and emails and calls unanswered. We’re unable to reach anyone, but it seems they’ve closed shop in other markets as well.”
Sandy Thibault, executive director of Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association, told the Burlington Free Press that Bolt communicated that employees were being let go and the company’s board of directors was discussing next steps.
A spokesperson at Burlington relayed similar information.
“All of our contacts at Bolt, including their CEO, have gone radio silent and have not replied to our emails,” Robert Goulding, public information manager at Burlington’s Department of Public Works, told TechCrunch.
Davis went on to say that about 100 bikes have been left on the ground completely inoperable and with dead batteries. Chittenden County has given Bolt a time frame in which to claim or remove the company’s vehicles, otherwise the county will take ownership of them.
Bolt also appears to have stopped operating in Richmond, California, according to Richmond Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum.
“Unfortunately, Bolt apparently went out of business without prior notification or removal of their capital equipment from city property,” wrote Butt. “They recently missed the city’s monthly meeting check-in and have been unresponsive to all their clients throughout all their markets.”
Butt went on to say that the city is coming up with a plan to remove all the abandoned equipment -- about 250 e-bikes that were available at hub locations like BART stations and the ferry terminal -- and asked people to refrain from vandalizing the bikes until the city could come up with a solution.
Service has also ended in Richmond, Virginia. The city confirmed that Bolt Mobility’s permit with the City of Richmond ends today, August 1, 2022.
"The city was informed June 7, 2022 that Bolt Mobility would be ceasing their operations in the City of Richmond (Virginia)," a company spokesperson said in an email. "Scooter companies operate on an annual permit, Bolt paid all its fees with the City of Richmond on August 1, 2021."
The Roanoke Times recently reported that Bolt's bikeshare service, operated under the name RoamNRV, has been inoperable in Montgomery County, where the university Virginia Tech is located, since July 6. Representatives from the town of Blacksburg, where most of Bolt's service was located, could not be reached in time for comment, but the local outlet reports that there are signs posted where the bikes are parked stating they're not operational.
TechCrunch has reached out to several other cities in which Bolt operates and has not been able to confirm that the company has stopped operating entirely. A spokesperson from St. Augustine originally told TechCrunch Bolt’s bike share was running as usual there, but after looking into the matter further, has since confirmed the service is suspended.
Bolt’s social media has also been rather inactive in recent weeks. The company hasn’t posted on Instagram since June 11 or on Twitter since June 2.
The last time TechCrunch heard from Bolt was nine months ago when the company was peddling its in-app navigation system that it dubbed “MobilityOS.” At the time, the startup promised that its next generation of scooters would include a smartphone mount that would double as a phone charger, but it’s unclear if those scooters ever hit the streets.
Bolt has publicly raised $40.2 million, an amount that doesn’t include an undisclosed investment from India’s Ram Charan Company in May. Investors there could not be reached for comment.