A startup co-founded by legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has run out of money — and has abandoned hundreds of unusable electric scooters and bicycles across the US.
Bolt Mobility has abruptly stopped operating in eight US cities over the past several weeks, leaving behind pricey mini-electric vehicles that can only be unlocked through its now-nonfunctioning mobile app.
Areas with abandoned Bolt vehicles include Portland, Oregon; St. Augustine, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; Richmond, California; and Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski, Vermont, according to TechCrunch.
“All of our contacts at Bolt, including their CEO, have gone radio silent and have not replied to our emails,” Robert Goulding of Burlington’s public works department told the outlet.
Richmond, California Mayor Tom Butt likewise wrote in July that Bolt “went out of business without prior notification or removal of their capital equipment from city property.”
“The City is coming up with a plan to remove all the abandoned equipment,” Butt added.
Bolt, which was co-founded in 2018 by Usain Bolt with a mission to “revolutionize transportation through safe, smart and sustainable transit solutions,” had raised more than $40 million from investors, according to Crunchbase data.
A notice on Bolt’s website says that the company was forced to “significantly scale back operations” on June 30 after investors “failed to deliver” expected fundraising.
Eight cities that had bikes and scooters operated directly by Bolt were then forced to shut down, while independent owners that control Bolt-branded operations in 25 other markets are continuing to operate, the company said. Bolt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Element LEV, which manufactured the e-bikes used by Bolt, is working with local governments to recover the bikes and eventually get them back into operation, Electrek reported.
Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medalist from Jamaica, visited New York City to promote Bolt in 2019, posing for a photo op in front of City Hall and urging local politicians to legalize e-scooters.
“The first thing people always say to me when I get somewhere late is that why didn’t you run? So now I actually have the Bolt scooter to get there quicker,” Bolt quipped at the time.
But Bolt — which is not to be confused with another Estonian transportation startup and an American payments company that all share the same name —was not selected to participate in New York City’s shared electric scooter pilot last year.
Instead, the Department of Transportation granted licenses to three rivals — Bird, Lime and Veo — allowing the companies to operate shared scooters in several Bronx neighborhoods.