Another Silicon Valley Whiz Kid Accused of Exaggerating Everything

'New York Times' out with critical story about Ryan Breslow of Bolt
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2022 2:45 PM CDT
Another Silicon Valley Whiz Kid Accused of Exaggerating Everything
Ryan Breslow, from a YouTube video.   (Matt Mochary via YouTube.)

Ryan Breslow dropped out of Stanford in 2014 to start Bolt Financial, which “promised to shake up the boring but important business of online payments,” according to the New York Times, which interviewed dozens of former and current employees, clients, and investors about the company’s current state. Bolt has enjoyed a “meteoric rise” in recent years, propelling it to a valuation of $11 billion and giving Breslow, 27, legendary status in Silicon Valley. But Erin Woo and Maureen Farrell of the Times found that Breslow has exhibited “a pattern of stretching the truth” about Bolt’s customer base and revenue projections. He also embellished the technological capabilities of his product, which promises a streamlined, one-click checkout that works across different ecommerce platforms, they write.

Breslow is certainly a stellar fundraiser. He even wrote a highly rated book about it. However, much of his story is starting to have a familiar ring. Although Breslow has not been accused of outright fraud, Bolt faces a lawsuit from Authentic Brands Group, which says Bolt “utterly failed to deliver on the technological capabilities that it held itself out as possessing.” The Times found evidence that Breslow routinely exaggerated key metrics and projections to attract investors, many of whom were quite eager to hop aboard. Many are still along for the ride, but some are looking to sell their stakes, worried that Bolt may go the way of Theranos, WeWork, or Nikola. Meanwhile, Breslow recently stepped down as Bolt CEO; he remains executive chairman, but he has also “cofounded a new company in Miami to let people fund clinical trials.” Read the full story. (Read more Silicon Valley stories.)

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