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Bolt’s Founding Story: How It All Began

It all started back when our co-founders Dan, David, and Ethan met in 2009. (Cue the flashback harp sound effects.)

Ethan and Dan were UC San Francisco PhD students making microbes produce silk and David was a UC Berkeley PhD student using microfluidic devices to mimic the process of spiders spinning silk. Ethan and Dan had taken a UCSF class called Idea to IPO and their infectious enthusiasm about starting a company convinced David to join them.

The three of them successfully applied for research grants and became proud tenants of the QB3 Garage, UC San Francisco’s startup incubator space. They worked out of the Garage for a little over a year before raising their first round of funding under the name Refactored Materials and moving into a larger incubator space in San Francisco. With this funding they hired their first employees, and thus began our journey into something bigger than our founders.

After one too many times having to explain the word “refactored”, we rebranded to Bolt Threads in 2014. Our growth continued and in 2015 we relocated our office and labs from our 6,000 square feet of San Francisco incubator space to our own custom 32,000 square-foot facility in Emeryville, where we now have 80 employees.

old lab
From our humble beginnings…
moving truck
to packing everything into a moving truck …
Emeryville fermentation
…and relocating into our own lovely facility.

We’ve come a long way from being just three founders with an idea, and en route we’ve created, scrapped, merged, and rearranged everything from departments to projects and policies. Throughout all this change, the unrelenting motivation and dedication of our talented staff has remained constant. To celebrate them, future posts will feature the celebrate the heroes of Bolt Threads – the people who make it all happen.


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