In this October 10, 2023 2023 edition of Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Technology we provide our capsule highlights of investments announced by supply chain management focused tech providers.
Included in this update is another significant billion dollar investment in a Generative AI tech start-up. Further included are two Series B funding announcements, a potential sign that venture capital later stage funding may be on the rebound for advanced AI focused start-ups.
Technology providers included in this update include Amazon Web Services, Loop, Certa, Consolidated Chassis Management and ToolsGroup.
Amazon Invests $4 Billion in Generative AI
Online retail and Cloud services infrastructure platform provider Amazon has announced a $4 billion investment in Anthropic in a reported effort to become a major player in Generative AI.
Founded by prior OpenAI executives, Anthropic has raised more than $1 billion, under a mantra for making safer forms of chabots. Google is noted as a $400 million investor in the start-up.
Reportedly included in the investment deal is Amazon taking a minority equity position in the start-up along with Anthropic’s move of its technology stack and IT infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers including the leveraging of AWS’s in-house chip design performance features. The start-up’s foundational AI model is termed “Claude” and has previously been made available as part of an AWS service termed Bedrock.
In its reporting, Bloomberg indicated that Amazon has long practiced a strategy of taking stakes in business areas deemed a priority including a grocery chain, cargo airlines, EV powered parcel vans and others. Further noted: “But if the investment in Anthropic lands anywhere near $4 billion, it would represent the largest known piece of corporate dealmaking related to AWS.”
Logistics Start-Up Loop Announces $35 Million Series B Funding
Logistics industry audit and payment services platform provider Loop has announced that the start-up has raised $35 million in a Series B investment round co-led by J.P. Morgan Growth Equity Partners and Index Ventures.
Chicago based Loop was founded in 2021 when many businesses struggled with added logistics disruption brought about be the Covid-19 global pandemic. This start-up was founded by Matt McKinney and Shaosu Liu, both of whom had backgrounds at Uber Freight and decided to tackle the massive problem of building a new structure for the legacy freight payment system that supports the global supply chain. The company’s technology helps businesses to digitalize payment processes while artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is leveraged to automate audits of logistics provider payments and services. The technology aims to accelerate the movement of money between shippers, carriers, and brokers.
The technology start-up secured $30 million in Series A funding in 2022. Among the listing of lighthouse customers for Loop are global shippers including Great Dane, GILLIG, and JPMorgan Chase and logistics service providers including Convoy and Loadsmart.
Matt McKinney, CEO and Co-founder of Loop indicated in the announcement: “As geopolitics radically reshapes the global supply chain and consumers bear the brunt of inflation, legacy financial infrastructure is driving up costs at a critical time for the economy. We founded Loop to solve this massive problem, and this fundraise is a testament to Loop’s ability to cut costs and power profits for our customers.”
Certa Raises $35 Million in Series B Funding Round
Certa, a start-up that aims to assist customers with global third-party supplier compliance, risk management and ESG needs, announced completion of a recently completed and oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investors Point72 Ventures, Agale Ventures and BDMI, a Bertelsnann’s venture arm were reportedly joined by Mantis VC and GOAT Capital in this round.
The San Francisco based start-up observes that: “Today’s organizations are increasingly global interconnected ecosystems of thousands of suppliers, partners, and clients. Each relationship adds risks like data security, privacy, and fraud. Additionally, companies deal with ever-increasing compliance burdens, such as the recent Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in the U.S. and the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG), along with pressing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. A firm’s competitive edge depends on its ability to work with third parties efficiently, safely, and swiftly.”
To date, Certa has reportedly helped its customers to onboard and monitor millions of companies across 120 countries supporting 41 languages.
Truck Chassis Pool Manager Consolidated Chassis Management Acquired
Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM), which provides ocean container carriers and trucking firms with a network of container truck chassis fleets across various South Atlantic ports has been acquired by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management.
CCM has been owned since its inception by the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, Inc. (“OCEMA”), an industry association consisting of 10 major international container shipping companies. Under its new ownership, CCM will reportedly have a significantly expanded capital base providing the financial support needed for the launch of the new South Atlantic Consolidated Chassis Pool. This chassis pool is scheduled to begin operations this month. CCM will serve as the exclusive manager under a long-term management and supply agreement with South Atlantic Consolidated Chassis Pool LLC (“SACP”), an OCEMA affiliate.
SACP 3.0 is being established cooperatively by OCEMA, Georgia Ports Authority, Jacksonville Port Authority, North Carolina State Ports Authority, SACP, and CCM. The newly reconstituted pool will offer more than 45,000 new and refurbished chassis to truckers, beneficial cargo owners, ocean carriers and other users. SACP 3.0 will reportedly be one of the largest fully interoperable chassis pools in the U.S., with more than 75 locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
No financial details were disclosed regarding this acquisition.
ToolsGroup Acquires AI Provider Evo
Supply chain planning and optimization software provider ToolsGroup announced the acquisition of Evo, a described responsive AI provider in the area of business performance optimization.
According to ToolsGroup CEO Inna Kuznetsova, this acquisition brings together two companies with complementary products, visions, and customer base. Start-up Evo provides capabilities in non-linear optimization, quantum learning, and advanced prescriptive analytics currently applied to product pricing and inventory optimization.
No financial specifics or terms were included in the announcement
ToolsGroup received a supplemental equity investment in 2021 from private equity firm Accel-KKR which has included changes in executive leadership. The tech provider has since acquired two other providers, that being Just Enough demand management in 2021, and Onera, a provider of real-time inventory availability and fulfillment software solutions catering to retail industry needs, which was profiled by this column in June of last year.
This includes our October 10, 2023 edition of Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Technology. This column publishes periodically in line with the pace of industry technology investments.
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