Fintech Bolt just laid off over 100 employees across engineering, sales and marketing

·3 min read

One-click checkout startup Bolt has laid off at least 100 employees and counting across go-to-market, sales and recruiting roles, sources say. CEO Maju Kuruvilla confirmed the workforce reduction in a blog post but did not say how many people were impacted or what roles were targeted.

“It’s no secret that the market conditions across our industry and the tech sector are changing, and against the macro challenges, we’ve been taking measures to adapt our business,” Kurvilla wrote in the blog post. “In an effort to ensure Bolt owns its own destiny, the leadership team and I have made the decision to secure our financial position, extend our runway, and reach profitability with the money we have already raised.”

Note: As of May 26, reports indicated that the number of affected employees was actually 185, or one-third of Bolt's workforce.

The restructuring comes weeks after Bolt was scrutinized for slowing revenue and customer growth. A major customer also filed a lawsuit against the fintech, leading to further questions about Bolt’s stability right now. In response to the allegations and reports, Kuruvilla then said that Bolt has seen a 131% year-over-year increase in shopper accounts and a 192% year-over-year increase in total active merchant accounts.

Today marks an entirely different tone in Bolt’s mood. Kuruvilla said that “this is one of the hardest messages I’ve ever had to send” and that “Since stepping into this role just a few months ago, my top priority has been to do what’s best for Bolt’s business, customers, and employees. It’s the commitment I made to our board, investors, and most importantly to all of you as we continue on our journey to decentralize and democratize commerce.”

Kuruvilla — a former Amazon executive — took over as CEO in January after founder Ryan Breslow stepped down.

Since its 2014 inception, Bolt has raised over $1 billion in funding and was valued at $11 billion at the time of its $355 million Series E raise in January. Investors include funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Schonfeld, Invus Opportunities, CreditEase, H.I.G. Growth, Activant Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures.

Bolt is no stranger to controversy. Its 27-year-old founder, Breslow, started the company after dropping out of Stanford. He stepped down as CEO in January and is generally known for his very outspoken rants, such as this series of tweets and recent digs at the media. In an interview with TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos that same month, he said the company had signed roughly 10 major deals in the second half of last year, with each being bigger “than any that Bolt has signed in the company’s history previously.”

In mid-February, Breslow also made headlines after announcing on Twitter that Bolt — which already offered employees more time to exercise their stock options than most companies — was offering every employee the chance to borrow money from the company to exercise their stock options. This “radical” and possibly unprecedented proposal, Breslow explained, promised to give regular employees the same tax benefits in purchasing stock as high-level executives. (Employees who buy their stock earlier theoretically reduce their tax exposure if the value of the stock continues to rise.)

Now, it's unclear what happens to the people who were laid off and borrowed money from the company. Are they still on the hook for those loans?

Also, notably, in early April, Bolt announced plans to acquire crypto startup Wyre for $1.5 billion, a staggering amount for any company, but especially one in a space as mired with controversy as this one. Now less than two months later, it's laying off a significant number of staff.

The one-click checkout space has been tense. Last month, Fast — Bolt’s closest rival — shut down due to high cash burn. Staff were impacted then, and now there’s a new influx of fresh fintech talent on the market who recently lost their jobs.

This article was updated post-publication with additional details.