Bolt CEO fired over shareholder disagreements

Among those disagreements was the handling of the recruitment agencies issue, with agencies taking a 50% cut from courier earnings

Sebastian Ripard, former TXF Tech and Bolt chief, set up a new recruitment agency earlier this year
Sebastian Ripard, former TXF Tech and Bolt chief, set up a new recruitment agency earlier this year

Bolt chief Sebastian Ripard has been fired from his role as CEO of TXF Tech – the company that runs the taxi hailing and food delivery platform – following disagreements with company shareholders. 

Ripard remains a shareholder of TXF Tech through his half-ownership of Riscione Holding, one of the company’s shareholders (5%); the others are Cyrus-based TXF Global (70%) and Debono Group (25%). 

He resigned as Bolt chief towards the end of March over disagreements with shareholders on the direction they wanted to take the company in. “One of the aspects I disagreed with was the handling of the recruitment agency issue,” Ripard told MaltaToday. 

His resignation from Bolt led to his removal as CEO of TXF Tech, whose sole director is now Klas Martin Johansson. 

Ripard set up a recruitment agency with Johansson shortly before his resignation – Courier Superstarts – to employ third-country nationals directly with the company. A Bolt spokesperson said Ripard’s dismissal was not related to the recruitment company he set up. 

Sources say Bolt has exclusivity agreements with two recruitment agencies for the provision of cab drivers and delivery workers, namely WT Global and RecruitGiant. A company spokesperson insisted Bolt remains compliant with Maltese labour laws with its recruitment pratcices. “The decision to work with external courier fleets was made to make our operations more efficient and to provide a better service to our clients.” 

MaltaToday revealed last January that some recruitment agencies take a 50% cut from food couriers’ earnings, as well charging thousands in to prospective employees. Screenshots of conversations between one courier and a RecruitGiant official, as seen by MaltaToday, show couriers being asked to pay €1,000 into a UK company bank account, and another 25,000 Indian Rupees in a separate account. Once the courier’s application is approved, they are expected to pay another €1,000. On visa approval, the courier pays €1,000 and another ₹16,000. 

In total, the prospective courier pays €3,500 to secure a job as a food courier with Bolt, exlucing visa costs, single permit applications, and other bureaucratic procedures.  The money is paid into a UK company owned by Tomas Mikalauskas, who owns RecruitGiant locally. 

 This €3,500 fee is only available to those who secure a job opportunity from RecruitGiant directly. Back in India, where there is no minimum or maximum cap on recruitment fees, Indian partner agencies linked to RecruitGiant add a service charge to their applications which is then taken as a commission.   

In this situation, the entire recruitment fee to become a food courier in Malta is ₹450,000, or €5,000. 

This story first appeared on Sunday's issue of MaltaToday. Be the first to read these stories with a single-issue purchase of MaltaToday on Sunday.