Bolt Built $11 Billion Business With Inflated Metrics and Eager Investors

Still, Mr. Breslow has become something of a legend in the Valley, for his fund-raising prowess and his outspoken behavior. Last summer, he self-published a 58-page book on fund-raising, described on Amazon as an “essential playbook” for start-ups. “Fund-raising is purely a matter of momentum,” he wrote.

Jack Burlinson, an entrepreneur who attended Stanford, said Mr. Breslow counseled him on fund-raising and introduced him to investors. “The fact that I’m tangentially related to him in some way made it easy to raise money,” Mr. Burlinson said.

Mr. Breslow moved back to Florida during the pandemic, where he has been “hacking himself,” Mr. Traina, the early Bolt investor, said. Often photographed in yoga poses, Mr. Breslow — who Forbes reported plays a buffalo-skin drum before bed — told the magazine he wants nothing to do with the “elite circle” of billionaires.

Shortly after Bolt closed its January funding round, Mr. Breslow went on Twitter to accuse Stripe, Y Combinator and top investors of conspiring to lock entrepreneurs like him out of fund-raising. He said venture capitalists would express excitement at his “game-changing” product, only to “mysteriously” back away later.

Then, Mr. Breslow decided to step down as chief executive of Bolt, but remains its executive chairman. Maju Kuruvilla, the former chief operating officer, is now chief executive. Mr. Breslow has co-founded a new company in Miami to let people fund clinical trials, Ms. Neve said.

Some Bolt clients are still trying to figure out the company’s unique proposition.

Chip Overstreet, the chief executive of Spiceology, started using Bolt last year to process the payments at his Spokane, Wash.-based spice company. Mr. Overstreet said he was satisfied with the service but was surprised that he couldn’t process orders that are gifts. Bolt has told him it plans to have the feature available by June, he added.

“They just don’t seem to be very innovative,” Mr. Overstreet said.

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