May 25, 2022 - Economy

Fintech unicorn Bolt starts layoffs

Illustration of a shopping cart icon with a lighting bolt

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

One-click checkout company Bolt Financial on Wednesday announced layoffs, just months after raising $355 million in new venture capital funding at nearly an $11 billion valuation.

Why it matters: Tech startup jobs aren't being protected by strong balance sheets, with Bolt just the latest in a spate of recent "unicorn" cuts.

Behind the scenes: Bolt recently made a controversial decision to offer loans to employees who wanted to buy their vested stock options, with founder and executive chairman Ryan Breslow recently telling Axios that there was wide adoption.

  • If Bolt were to liquidate those shares at a lower price than what employees paid, such as via an IPO or acquisition, then loan-holders could owe the company money. It's worth emphasizing, however, that employee shares are usually priced lower than venture capital prices, meaning the loans aren't tied to the $11 billion (let alone the $14 billion that Bolt floated as a possible follow-on investment.)
  • A company spokesperson hasn't yet responded to a request for information about how those loans will be treated for laid-off employees.
  • Bolt also was recently sued by Authentic Brands Group, whose brands include Forever 21 and Lucky, for breach of contract.

Big picture: Fast, a Bolt rival valued by VCs at over $500 million, last month shut down, costing 450 people their jobs.

Below is an interview with Breslow at the recent Axios What's Next Summit:

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