In this Supply Chain Matters blog posting for our featured column This Week in Supply Chain Tech, we highlight the accelerated start in 2021 of supply chain management technology focused acquisition, IPO and investment funding.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted many multi-industry product demand and global supply networks and have been compounded by continued service disruption among multiple global transport modes. This has placed a higher priority on end-to-end supply chain visibility technology enablement as well as more informed insights into pending disruptions and choke points.

Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Technology

Project44 Acquires Ocean Insights

End-to-end logistics supply chain visibility tech provider project44 today announced the acquisition of Ocean Insights.

Founded in 2012, the Germany based Ocean Insights has reportedly pioneered ocean contain freight visibility by leveraging carrier data, live vessel tracking and the timeliest sailing schedule data on a singular Cloud-based platform. The technology currently provides coverage among 700 seaports and more than 5000 vessels. Ocean Insights customers reportedly include International Food Group (Sysco), Pernod Ricard, FourKites and other leading enterprises in automotive, manufacturing, food & beverage, commodity trading, chemical and freight forwarding. Many customers reportedly leverage both Ocean Insights and project44 tech platforms.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. However, project 44 Founder and CEO Jett McCandless has indicated that the deal represents “the largest acquisition in visibility space history.”

According to a project 44 blog authored by its CEO, an assessment of the company’s product roadmap pointed to a need to deliver the most robust ocean visibility for our customers to be successful. Ocean Insights was the natural fit to extend project 44 ‘s ocean container transit visibility with deep data and integrations.

While project44 indicates entering the ocean visibility space several years ago, it acknowledges Ocean Insights as the market leader. Having started with over-the-road visibility, project44 has built what it describes as world’s largest over-the-road carrier network with connections to more than 800 ELD/telematics devices.

By combining Ocean Insights’ data with project44’s existing ocean visibility product as well as leading over-the-road, rail, and air visibility capabilities, the acquisition will reportedly expand global and multi-modal supply chain visibility capabilities.

In the press release announcing the acquisition, Robin Jaacks, Chief Customer Officer of Ocean Insights indicated that his company had multiple options for a strategic exit. Further noted: “After meeting Jett and the entire project44 team, however, we were impressed with the vision, integrity and culture of the team. It became obvious that project44 was the right partner for us.”

That is an indicator of common chemistry.

In a December 2020 Supply Chain Matters commentary noting the increased equity investment flowing into the end-to-end logistics and transportation sector, we made mention of project44’s completion of a $100 million Series D financing round, bringing total investment raised to $241 million. This latest round was led by private equity firm Insight Venture Partners, whose equity investments have been E2open, Shopify, CommerceHub and procuri, among others.

Our This Week in Supply Chain Tech column has provided prior announcements related to project44 including a November 2020 joint announcement with integrated planning and operations provider tech provider 09 Solutions announcing an extension of supply chain control tower capability with augmented visibility provided by project44. Other project44 partnership announcements have included Cloud ERP tech providers SAP SE and Oracle.


Other Noteworthy Tech News

Autonomous Driving Software in Trucking

In other supply tech noted investment news, The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that autonomous trucking technology provider TuSimple had confidentially filed traditional IPO paperwork with plans to go public in March. While there was no disclosure on current estimated value, a 2019 financing round valued the tech provider at $1.2 billion. TuSimple has since garnered hundreds of millions in financing from U.S. based trucking companies as well as Chinese investors. Reportedly, a successful IPO would thrust the provider to the top od the pack of self-driving trucking start-ups.


Warehouse and Distribution Center Robotics

Autonomous Mobile Robot provider Locus Robotics has recently completed $150 million in Series E funding from U.S. investors, principally to expand sales and services expansion in Europe and the United Kingdom along with expanding ongoing research and development.

This round was led by Tiger Global Management and BOND. The round builds on support by existing investors Scale Venture Partners and Prologis Ventures.

Existing Locus Robotics customers are noted as CEVA Logistics, DHL, GEODIS, Boots UK, Port Logistics Group, Verst Logistics and others.


Logistics and E-Commerce in China

Bloomberg reported in late February that upwards of $5.5 billion worth of acquisitions of Chinese logistics firms have been announced this year, the strongest first quarter ever. Reportedly, the pandemic has helped to spark deals for warehouses needed to store goods ordered online as well as the transportation networks needed to deliver these goods according on online consumer expectations. According to EMarketer, China based online E-commerce revenues are reportedly expected to surpass over half of the country’s total retail sales this year, making this nation the first to perform a majority of its shopping online.


Supply Chain Risk Analytics

In the supply chain risk analytics tech segment, two tech providers, Resilience360 and Riskpulse, announced an integration of these two companies under the rebranded name of Everstream Analytics. Resilience360 was created in 2014 by DHL to enable businesses to turn supply chain disruption into competitive advantage. The new platform reportedly combines the unique capabilities of the two supply chain risk analytics solutions. Everstream’s unique capabilities reportedly assess, predict and monitor all risks through each phase of Plan, Source, Make and Deliver. The predictive models analyze over 20 billion data points every day and real-time, on-the-ground proprietary supply chain intelligence is sourced directly in 220 countries.

Indeed, the supply chain management technology segment will remain rather active in the coming months.


Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2021, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.