Bolt Charges Through Strategic Round

With plans to extend its Internet-conceived brand to offline media, Bolt Inc. of New York earlier this month received venture funding from a syndicate of financial and strategic investors led by Moore Capital.

Bolt operates a Web site that targets the full range of teenage interests. In addition to providing content and free services such as e-mail and homepages, Bolt sells clothing, accessories and appliances through its Web site. Chief Executive Dan Pelson said he attracted strategic partners such as Time Warner and Comcast Interactive Corp. to help build Bolt into the largest global brand catering to teenagers.

“This round has less to do with streaming than it does with marketing our brand with real offline media,” he said. “To date, we’ve spent literally zero on consumer marketing and have received 150 million page views per month.”

Pelson hopes to exploit the Bolt brand through the teen-oriented WB network and the several cable properties Comcast operates, including QVC, E! and Style.

Additional first investors in the round include radio broadcaster Entercom Communications Corp., America Online Inc. and Ford Motor Co. Existing investors Highland Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Sandler Capital Management and Bechtel Enterprises also returned for the round. Details of the financing were not provided.

In addition to investing in marketing-the company is planning an international multimedia advertising campaign-proceeds from the round will be used to support Bolt’s e-commerce infrastructure. Pelson would not comment on the company’s future financing plans.

“Bolt identified who would be their best partners over time and picked the strongest names in media,” said Steve Harrick, principal at Highland, which led Bolt’s first institutional round of financing. “It has synergies with several Highland portfolio companies including eToys and [customer service provider] WebLine Communications.”

Harrick added that Highland’s current fund, $252 million Highland Capital Partners IV, is approximately 80% invested, and the firm will likely hold a first close of its fifth investment vehicle early next year.