Bolt founder Ryan Breslow calls Silicon Valley a “boys’ club”

The founder of a technology company now valued at $ 14 billion told The Post that navigating the startup world of Silicon Valley is like running a “boys’ club” full of “mob bosses.”

Ryan Breslow built the payment company Bolt from scratch – and it now competes with the likes of Stripe, Square and Clover.

But the 27-year-old Breslow is not your typical technology brother who basks in success. He now points out how difficult he says it was to get financing for his company, which allows people to pay for purchases at around 3,500 online retailers with one click.

He told The Post that Silicon Valley venture capitalists who had supported one of his biggest competitors, the $ 95 billion online payment colossus Stripe, behaved like “mob bosses”[ads1]; and threw up obstacles when it came to investors interested in the company. his.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow calls Silicon Valley a “boys’ club”
Ryan Breslow says it was difficult to get funding for his startup, which is now valued at $ 14 billion, due to the atmosphere among some venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, whom he compared to “mob bosses”.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

He highlighted venture capital heavyweights – and Stripe supporters – Sequoia and Y Combinator – in a Twitter post last week who sent tongues wagging. And he told The Post this week that Stripe used his institutional muscle in Silicon Valley to dissuade investors from supporting Bolt, which he started in 2014 and now has 10 million users.

“We did something quite revolutionary and for some reason could not get anyone to invest that was a brand name,” he said. “And so we would literally get investors to come to me and say, ‘Hey, we talked to some people on Stripe and we think we’ll survive.’

Breslow built Bolt from scratch and now competes with the likes of Stripe, Square and Clover.

Breslow claimed that investors were intimidated by giving his fixed money for fear of countering Stripe. “Their name would come up all the time as investors would go back and channel,” he claimed.

Stripe, Y Combinator and Sequoia did not immediately return requests for comment from The Post, but some technical observers took issue with Breslow’s comments and his characterization of the venture capital scene.

Garry Tan, a technical investor, defended Y Combinator and Stripe, noting that Y Combinator has funded companies that have been in direct competition with Stripe.

“Come on Ryan,” Tan wrote. “How about competing with good products?”

But Breslow sticks to his guns. Regarding the potential investors, Breslow said: “It was almost as if because we were in payments, they felt they had to call Stripe either to get permission to invest, or get their views on us, and they would go from saying that they would invest. either to disappear or say they will not invest anymore. “

On the surface, Breslow has many reasons to be happy. He is the largest shareholder in the privately owned company, which was recently valued at $ 14 billion. Bolt has also just completed a $ 355 million series of E-financing rounds committed by investors such as BlackRock and Activant Capital.

Bolt has a valuation of $ 14 billion and recently completed a series of E-financing rounds that gave the company more than $ 350 million in new capital.
Bolt has a valuation of $ 14 billion and recently completed a series of E-financing rounds that gave the company more than $ 350 million in new capital.

And earlier this month, Bolt basked in the glare of positive press when it announced it had permanently switched to a four-day work week.

Meanwhile, Breslow revealed to The Post that he plans to promote Maju Kuruvilla, Amazon’s former head of global logistics, to the position of CEO just a year after hiring him from the online store giant.

According to Breslow, Bolt also plans to expand the workforce in San Francisco from the current level of 600 employees to three times as much by the end of the year. Breslow said there are no plans to announce the company, although he said it may come sometime soon.

Stripe Inc. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA, Thursday, December 3, 2020. Stripe will team up with some of the world's largest banks to provide checking accounts to companies selling their wares on e-commerce platforms such as Shopify Inc. Photographer: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bolt is targeting the dominant player in online payment processing, Stripe, the San Francisco-based firm worth an estimated $ 95 billion.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the moment, Breslow says he is on a mission to “empower the next generation” of technology entrepreneurs and make them aware of “the games that take place behind closed doors” so that they will not be “naive as to what they are up against”. and become “severely disadvantaged” as a result.

“I would not do the things that Stripe does, but it is their choice,” Breslow said of what he claims was Stripe and its investors’ harsh tactics.

“But the world needs to know how fierce they are, so when someone gives up their life to come to Silicon Valley and start a fintech company, they know what they’re facing.”

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