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Thursday, 7 March 2019

Taxify is now 'Bolt' and Here are all the Upgrade That Comes With the New Name

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The company is removing “taxi” from its name and rebranding as Bolt, the same name that it has been using for its new electric scooter service, to double down on providing multiple transportation options beyond private cars.


Taxify, the ride-hailing company from Estonia backed by Didi and Daimler and now active in 30 countries, is making a key shift in its business today as it gears up for its next stage of growth. 

The shift in name and vision comes as the company has started talks for another round of funding, TechCrunch has learned.
Bolt last raised money in May 2018, when it closed a $175 million round at a $1 billion valuation led by Daimler. 
CEO and co-founder Markus Villig confirmed in an interview in London this week that the next big growth round will be coming in at a higher price tag — he referred to the $1 billion post-money valuation from the last round as a “good start” — in part because Bolt has expanded quite a bit in the interim: it had 10 million users in 25 countries back then; now, it has 25 million users in 30 countries across Europe, Africa and other territories.
The rebrand from Taxify to Bolt is serving a few purposes, Villig said. Tapping the basic meanings of “bolt,” the new name implies speed, as well as electricity.
“We are bullish that the future is fully electric and so we wanted a name that moved us away from the combustion engine,” he said.
Putting future engine technology to one side, the move away from using “taxi” in the name also underscores how the startup intends to widen its remit to cover more than just car-based rides. 
Cars may make up the vast majority of Bolt’s service today, but the plan is to add more scooters, other individual transport modes and soon public transport links, he said, not unlike CityMapper’s multi-modal approach. “The old name was too restrictive.”
Bolt’s growth — Villig describes it as the solid number-two in the European ride-hailing market after Uber in terms of rides and revenues — has not been without its bumps.
Key among those challenges is that the company has yet to launch a full service in the U.K., and specifically London, the biggest ride-hailing market in Europe. 
Its efforts to come to London stretch back to 2017, during what was probably the height of tension between its chief rival Uber and London regulators. 
Tired of waiting for its operating license to get approved, Taxify tried to circumvent the process by buying a small firm that already had one and launched services that way. But the regulators were in no mood for funny business: after a mere three days of service, it got shut down.
Since then, Taxify (and now Bolt) has been quietly, and patiently, working on getting a license and approval to operate on its own steam.
“We hope to get going in the next couple of months in London,” Villig said.
That could, confusingly, involve yet another brand. 
At the end of last year, Taxify rebranded its London app as “Hopp” and started to accept driver sign-ups, but no passengers. 
It’s not clear whether Hopp will also now rebrand as Bolt, or how it will get used, but at the moment I’m seeing Hopp branding across several areas of the new Bolt site.

TECHCRUNCH
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