Bolt, an Uber-like rideshare company based in Estonia, has raised €600 million (~$713M USD) to branch out into grocery delivery, CNBC reported today. New investors in the round include Sequoia and fund managers Tekne and Ghisallo, along with existing investors G Squared, D1 Capital and Naya. With its new funding, Bolt is now valued at roughly $4.75 billion.
Just like Uber, Bolt saw its ride hailing business decimated by the pandemic last year. Bolt told CNBC that while its ride hailing business has recovered, the company has seen dramatic growth in its grocery delivery business. The company operates 15-minute grocery delivery and has plans to roll the service out to 10 more European countries including Sweden, Portugal and Croatia over the next few months.
But as it does expand its grocery delivery footprint, Bolt will be facing a fiercely competitive, well-funded landscape. Europe in particular has been a hot spot for grocery delivery this past year, with a number of startups bulking up their warchests with hundreds of millions in new funding. Spanish startup Glovo has raised $1.2 billion, Turkey-based Getir has raised $1 billion, Czech-based Rohlik has raised $402 million, and Germany-based Flink has raised $304 million.
The big question now looming for all these services is whether they can economically scale, a matter complicated by the fact that services such as 15-minute grocery delivery are fast becoming a commodity. If there are half a dozen speedy grocery delivery services in a city, customers will likely gravitate towards the cheapest option. This race to the bottom is driving some speedy grocery delivery services here in the U.S. to diversify more into ghost kitchens and private label ready-to-eat meals.
It’s also worth noting that here in the U.S., Uber is investing more heavily in the grocery delivery space. The company recently acquired the remaining 47 percent of grocery delivery startup Cornershop, and partnered with Albertsons to offer grocery delivery in 400 U.S. cities.