late May, Employees at fintech startup Bolt saw a message from the CEO on the company’s Slack. It warns them that a “reorganization” is coming, and they should keep an eye out for calendar invitations: one group will be attending an HR meeting, which means they’re being fired, while the other group will go to a “town hall,” which means they still have jobs.
By the end of the day, 250 employees — nearly a third of the company — had been laid off. Feeling sour. In the bitterness and anger, some employees are simply at a loss.Bolt just proposed $355 million In terms of venture capital, investors valued the startup at $11 billion.Bolt reportedly spent $1.5 billion in April Acquiring a Crypto Startup. Elsewhere, there are signs of market deterioration, but Bolt appears to be doing well; founder touts company is growing”at lightning speed. One employee even asked at a recent town hall if they should lay off staff anytime soon. CEO Maju Kuruvilla declined.
These types of guarantees led some of Bolt’s employees to take personal loans from the company to exercise their stock options. Ryan Breslow, founder of Bolt program announced It went public in February, describing it as “the most employee-friendly stock option plan possible.” Bolt will let employees exercise their options early and may buy more equity by taking an interest-free loan from the company.At the time, Breslow said More than half Bolt employees opted to participate in the program.
One of the employees, a software programmer who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to discuss internal company affairs, took out a $100,000 loan to exercise his stock options. To him, Bolt “looks like a rocket ship” and he’s willing to take risks for potential rewards. Then, a few months after taking out the loan, he saw “restructuring meetings” pop up on his calendar. He was fired.
Over the past few months, many startups have had to lay off staff, leaving thousands of employees in limbo. Some, Klarna and Peloton, have ramped up staff like crazy during the pandemic, only to cut hundreds of jobs this spring. Venture capitalists have started shutting down the fire hose of cash, and many startup CEOs are realizing they may no longer have easy access to funding.in a blog post Defending the layoffs, Kuruvira described Bolt’s need to expand his runway and try to turn a profit with the money he has raised. For that, it has to sacrifice some people.
For Bolt’s employees, however, it felt like a whiplash. The startup started hiring in late 2021, adding hundreds of new employees. Many of the new hires left their jobs at big tech companies like Amazon and Google, but their positions disappeared less than a year later. “I came to a startup because I was willing to take some risks,” said the Bolt software engineer. “Sometimes you take risks, you try your best and you don’t succeed. But that’s not how it feels.”