Ryan Breslow has had a tumultuous 2022. It doesn’t slow him down.
Few outside Breslow’s world even knew his name a year ago. Then Bolt, a “one-click” checkout technology company born from a previous idea of his, announced $355 million in Series E financing at a reported valuation of $11 billion. Suddenly, the startup was on everyone’s radar, as was Breslow. The now 28-year-old resident of Miami drove so high that he could not help but ride a kind of victory lap. After struggling at one point to win over Silicon Valley investors, he began posting thoughts on Twitter that most might never dare to share publicly, including calling rival Stripe and famed accelerator Y Combinator “mafia bosses.” squashing “every power move imaginable” to competitors.
While Breslow found some support for his perspective online, he was also criticized for the comments — including by powerful investors — and a week later, he stepped down as CEO of Bolt and became its executive chairman.
Breslow, who still owns a large stake in Bolt, told us the development had nothing to do with his antics. But it was hard to believe that Breslow’s high profile tweets – which just kept coming – didn’t confuse Bolt’s investors to some degree. Sure, it’s been a rocky road ever since. Further funding reportedly in the works has not materialized. The company has been accused in the press of blowing up its… customer statistics and exaggerating its technical capabilities. In late May, citing changing market conditions, Bolt announced that it would be roughly shutting down a third of its employeesor 250 people – some of whom had recorded personal loans of the company to exercise their stock options.
Meanwhile, partnerships that Breslow publicly teased have yet to be announced. Bolt employees are also reportedly frustrated that Breslow has sold $10 million in stock to investors during that Series E round in January, when the Bolt board had not allowed them to sell their own interests.
Some founders may be laying low after so much backlash. Breslow — who is both friendly and reserved in conversations — is instead pushing ahead with several decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) infrastructure projects, including a programmable funding protocol called Pack of juice.
He is also working several other startupsincluding a “people-powered pharma” startup called Love that he was a co-founder and that is very much of his time. In particular, Love wants to launch a DAO where members, who buy “Love tokens” with Ethereum or another reserve currency, can discuss homeopathic and other pharmaceutical alternatives and then vote on which ones should be tested in clinical trials. The DAO then endorses the investigations.
The idea – and at this point it’s all theoretical – is to target big pharmaceutical companies by copying how they work.
If you think it can be challenging to produce concrete clinical data on homeopathic treatments, Breslow says that’s exactly the point. Right now, he says, it’s “all stories, and some scientists say some of it is BS and some that it’s true.” So we’re going to finally show people the data and let those who believe fund it and see if it really works.”
As for how Love is making money from this whole process, Breslow says it will buy some Love tokens itself; it will also “selectively launch several health-related brands under the Love umbrella.”
If it’s all kind of squishy now, Human Capital and MaC Venture Capital don’t seem to mind. Yesterday Love announced that it has been increased $7.5 million in seed capital of the couple.
Notably, both companies are also: investors in Bolt, Breslow said when asked, although he suggests that if there is a connection to Bolt, it’s that running Bolt for eight years led him to think differently about wellness. According to Breslow, he had years of chronic back pain that he thought was “incurable” because the “many doctors and established medical experts” he saw only made matters worse. He later pointed to an alternative healer who introduced Breslow to yoga, meditation, and mental therapy, and says his back pain quickly subsided.
Even social media, Breslow suggests, remains a therapeutic outlet for him. Indeed, asked if he are . could walk back tweets from earlier this year, given everything that followed, he says he has “no regrets.”
Breslow says, “I remain fairly active on the social front and I think it’s been a net positive in terms of raising awareness of Bolt. A year ago most people I know didn’t know what Bolt was or is. Now almost everyone does that.”