Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Tech updates readers on reports indicating that innovative digital freight brokerage start-up Convoy is exploring strategic options.
Published reports indicate that digital freight brokerage technology provider Convoy has sought out an investment advisor to explore “strategic options that include a sale of the company.”
A report initially published by The Information (Paid subscription) and subsequently industry publication Freightways, cited sources indicating that the Seattle based company, that counted Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Marc Benioff as investors, with Fidelity and T Rowe Price as later stage backers has taken this action.
The Freightways report indicated that: “the options on the table appear to be a merger or sale to a large strategic partner or a large capital investment from a financial sponsor.” Among specific recognitions, in May of this year, the company was named in business broadcasting network CNBC’s Top Disruptors 50 listing.
Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Tech first cited Convoy in November 2019 when the company raised $400 million in a Series D funding round that valued the digital brokerage firm at $2.7 billion. At the time, total capital raised was in excess of $669 million. The company, founded in 2015, competed with other attractively funded start-up firms such as Transfix, Uber Freight and others, as well as established truck brokers such as C.H. Robinson and Echo Global Logistics.
In April of 2022 the tech provider raised $260 million in added funding, comprised of a $160 million Series E preferred equity round led by Baillie Gifford and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, along with a $100 million venture-debt investment from Hercules Capital. The company further secured a new $150 million line of credit from J.P. Morgan. At that time, Convoy’s valuation was pegged at $3.8 billion.
Freightways and industry media have noted that the U.S. truckload market has seen a significant downturn in both volume and rates. In turn, that has put pressure on traditional and digital freight brokers who typically sell their logistics services to shippers on a contract rate basis.
The company has reportedly conducted at least four layoffs since early 2022 and the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Grant Goodale departed the company in June.
This column has frequently highlighted the significant amounts of equity investments that have poured into new technology laden startups targeting the transportation and logistics sector over the past several years. This was segment that was ripe for technology infusion and renewal with typically decades old existing technology. When times were good and shipment volume levers were off the charts, the outlook was often attractive growth rates. Yet, as Freightways has noted, freight brokerage companies have cut upwards of 1000 jobs in mass layoffs thus far this year.
Industry and tech industry investors will have a keen eye as to future developments related to Convoy and other related start-ups. There are various scenarios that could or likely will occur.
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