Bolt CEO Markus Villig: ‘In 20 Years, Most Cities will Ban Private Cars’

By Marco De Novellis // 13 February 2023

Markus Villig is the Founder and CEO of Bolt, the leading mobility company.
Markus Villig is the Founder and CEO of Bolt, the world-leading mobility company.

Markus Villig, Co-Founder and CEO of Bolt, explains why time’s up for private cars in cities and reveals who’s best suited to win in the new generation of mobility services. Read more in our free CEO Forecast 2023.

Markus Villig co-founded Bolt as a 19-year old high school student in Estonia. He borrowed €5,000 from his parents to build the first version of his app. Today, Bolt boasts over 100 million users across the globe.

Bolt also has close to 2.5 million drivers, but Markus doesn’t own a driving licence – and has no plans to get one.

With changing perceptions, rising petrol prices, carbon emissions and their impact on climate change, Markus says more cities are going to introduce legislation and initiatives to reduce, if not outright ban, private cars.

“If we look at our urban landscapes today, the vast majority of space is dedicated to cars, roads and parking spaces,” Markus explains. “When you move away from that, you can compress a city, reduce noise pollution, create more natural spaces – and everyone wins.”

Mobility Trends to Watch

So what are the trends to watch in the mobility sector? “For ride-hailing in particular, we’re expecting supply and demand to reach equilibrium in lots of markets,” Markus notes. 

“This will reverse the trend we saw coming out of the pandemic, where demand was growing so fast that supply couldn’t catch up and, as a result, prices were going up and arrival times were really bad.”

Meanwhile, up-and-coming urban mobility services – like e-scooters and same-day grocery deliveries – are driving the overall growth of the global shared mobility market, which is expected to reach over $945b by 2030.

“The winners in these sectors are still to emerge, but existing players that have already proven themselves to be strong in delivery and ride-hailing are best positioned to come out on top.” Markus says.

The Future of Mobility

VC funding is stalling across the tech sector and recent investment in mobility startups follows suit. While mobility tech startups raised $5.5b in VC funding in the third quarter of 2022, that represented a 79% drop on the previous year and was 60% below the five year average.

“Founders must focus on being cost efficient and conserving the capital they have. You can’t be ‘growth at all costs’ anymore and hope the next round of investors are going to bail you out,” Markus explains.

Bolt started by bootstrapping ten years ago, which forged a strong DNA of frugality across the founding team. In his first six years, Markus and his team focused on building the technology and operations behind their ride-hailing service in a small set of European countries. 

Over the next four years, Bolt added four new verticals – food delivery, grocery delivery, e-scooters, and car sharing – and expanded to 45 countries across Europe and Africa.

Bolt’s top talent, who honed their skills in the ride-hailing side of the business, now operate like mini CEOs, running Bolt’s different verticals in different markets semi-autonomously. 

For Markus, it’s this base of talent that gives players like Bolt the edge in the market, as the company fights to accelerate the transition from private cars to shared mobility.

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