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Vacillating EV Start-Up Volta, to be Acquired by Shell for $169 Million

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by Benny Taubman, OOH TODAY Reporter

Yesterday, on Jan. 18, combined electric vehicle (EV) charging and DOOH tech start-up Volta announced in a press release that it will be acquired by Shell USA, the American subsidiary of Shell plc, for $169 million. The deal is a full cash purchase of all of Volta’s common stock at a value of 86 cents a share and is expected to close within the first half of 2023 after being approved by Volta’s stockholders.

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For those of you with a short memory, let us remind you that it was not too long ago, February 15, 2021, when Volta announced they were going public via SPAC, (remember those?).  OOH Today reported Volta Goes Public.  The company was said to be worth $2.2 Billion and on February 8, 2021, the stock traded near $17.25 with over 20 million shares changing hands. Since early November of 2021 when the stock was trading at just over $12 per share, that share value precipitously dropped to as low as $.031 a share in December of 2022. The big bounce now at .0.88 a share.  Ouch. 

“This transaction creates value for our shareholders and provides our exceptional employees and other stakeholders a clear path forward.”

Through this deal, Shell will add Volta’s 3,050 destination chargers to its current portfolio of 90,000. This comes at a time when Shell, the world’s fifth-largest supplier of oil and natural gas, transitions its business model from fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of energy. As stated in the press release, Volta is already planning to install over 3,400 new charging stations through the foreseeable future. While that sounds like an impressive number, with our observed average of two stations per location that is only 1,700 locations. In terms of large format billboards on highways, 1,700 would be impressive, at a screen sized 55” (diagonally) (aren’t TV’s measured diagonally too?) tucked in the back of a shopping center parking lot, it leaves a great deal of work yet to be planned. As Mike Schott, EVP of Sales for Volta said and quoted here in OOH They Said it Today, “Marketers make sure you DOOH partners are measuring up.”

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“The shift to e-mobility is unstoppable, and Shell recognizes Volta’s industry-leading dual charging and media model delivers a public charging offering that is affordable, reliable, and accessible,” stated Vince Cubbage, the Interim CEO of Volta. “This transaction creates value for our shareholders and provides our exceptional employees and other stakeholders a clear path forward.”

“Marketers make sure you DOOH partners are measuring up.”

Leading up to this acquisition, Volta has experienced many trials and tribulations. This can in part be attributed to the tech startup’s silicon-valley mindset of ‘growth no matter what’ and ‘move fast and break stuff’ which has led to an unsustainable business model and repeated quarterly losses in the tens of millions of dollars. In the time since Volta went public in 2021 through a SPAC merger with Tortoise Acquisition Corp II at a valuation of $2 billion and $10 a share, the company’s stock price has fallen over 91% to 88 cents a share.

Last year in late March, the company first dumbfounded curious onlookers when its CEO and President resigned after postponing the release of Volta’s latest quarterly earnings. As a result of the C-Suite circumstance, Volta’s stock plunged nearly 20%. However, after this, the troubles continued to pile on.

In October of 2022, Volta shocked those in the industry as it announced a planned 43% reduction in general expenses and laid off 54% of its full-time US employees. No stranger to abysmal financial reports, although its total 2022 third-quarter revenue increased 69% year-over-year to $14.4 million, Volta still suffered a sizeable net loss of nearly $42.5 million. In the time since the acquisition was announced, Volta’s stock has rallied more than 20%, as of this article’s publication.

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  1. Mike says

    Mike, EVP: “Hello Benny, Your insightful OOH Today articles are always an enjoyable read.”

  2. J says

    J says: Off record – Probably the best summary anywhere of the Volta story. Well written and good context.

    Part of the problem was the amount of flat rent they were paying at the start and the huge cost per station to install. Peerless AV is not a cheap station. I’m glad they transitioned to rev share and started working with cities but I think it was too little too late. Anyone that purchased the stock at $9 like the sustainability and ESG funds really got hit hard. That’s who people forget when they read the story.

    They didn’t start doing programmatic until Dec 2020. Having a large direct sales team helped but it was unsustainable. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen to Jolt now that they have a ton of US and Canadian employees with the exact same business model.