Today’s Pickup: Seattle-based Shipium lands $2M seed round – FreightWaves

Plus: Uber U.S. safety tally: 3,000 people sexually assaulted, nine murdered while taking Uber rides in 2018.

Today’s Pickup: Seattle-based Shipium lands $2M seed round – FreightWaves

2019 12 07

Good day,

Seattle-based logistics startup  Shipium raised a $2 million seed round led by PSL Ventures, the venture arm of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs, GeekWire reported.

Founded by two ex-Amazon employees, one of whom also worked at Zulily, the startup is working on pilots in the direct-to-consumer fashion apparel segment. Another potential customer is a large consumer electronics company.

Shipium’s mission, according to its website, is to make two-day shipping available to all retailers.

The startup joins a growing number of logistics companies in Seattle, including Flexe, and, of course, Convoy.

Did you know?

Since the imposition of U.S. tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cell imports in 2018, 62,000 Americans have either lost their jobs or were never hired.

Source:  Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), via FreightWaves


“I’ve got five weeks to make my annual salary.”

Greg Smith, owner of Molalla Christmas Tree Farms in Molalla, Oregon, via FreightWaves

In other news

Waymo robotaxi app hits the App Store

One year after launching its Waymo One self-driving car service in the Phoenix area, the company is launching an app on iOS. (TechCrunch)

Cars and solar power systems Tesla’s ‘two biggest priorities’

An internal email Elon Musk sent to Tesla employees identifies car and solar power system sales as the startup’s two biggest year-end priorities. (Electrek)

California Air Resources Board officially limits rebates on electric cars in California

The Board cut rebates for cars that cost more than $60,000, removed plug-in hybrids with a low range and now allows only one rebate per person in their lifetime. (CaliforniaGlobe)

Ballard Power Systems  announces a purchase order from Van Hool, a bus OEM headquartered in Belgium

The 20 fuel cell modules will power buses in Groningen, the Netherlands. (PRNewswire)

Final thoughts,

Uber has released a wide-ranging safety report stating that more than 3,045 people were sexually assaulted while on Uber rides in the U.S. last year and nine were murdered, the New York Times reported. In almost half the sexual assault cases, the passenger, not the driver, was the perpetrator. Uber provided 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, the company said.

Hammer down, everyone!

Transportation Insight acquires LTL broker FreightPros

Transportation Insight pushes into LTL brokerage with acquisition of FreightPros

Transportation Insight acquires LTL broker FreightPros

Mark Solomon 
2019 12 06

Logistics provider Transportation Insight (TI) said Dec. 6 that it acquired less-than-truckload (LTL) broker Meridian Logistics LLC, which does business as FreightPros, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition expands privately held TI’s LTL brokerage offerings. It operates a truckload brokerage unit through its December 2018 acquisition of Nolan Transportation Group, which also performs some LTL brokerage. FreightPros, by contrast, focuses exclusively on LTL brokerage.

A non-asset-based provider, TI holds itself out as a logistics handyman of sorts, performing a broad range of functions — supported by a solid IT platform — to improve customers’ supply chains. TI operates across all modes. 

The acquisition is TI’s fourth.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Riding a wave of innovations, the digital freight services startup ranked No. 3 on the FreightTech 25 list of most disruptive companies.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Linda Baker, Staff Writer: FreightWaves

Riding a wave of recent innovations, digital freight network powerhouse Convoy moved up a notch on this year’s FreightTech 25, edging out Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) to occupy the No. 3 slot on FreightWaves’ list of most disruptive companies.

Ziad Ismail, the company’s chief product officer, said 2019 has been an especially fruitful year for Convoy, which netted $400 million in a Series D round announced Nov. 13.

“Over the past year in particular, we’ve really accelerated both the rates and impact of the innovation,” he said. “There have been multiple big breakthroughs we’ve been working on for several years.”

Ismail credited the Seattle-based company’s innovation model, rooted in small teams that  operate autonomously, with enabling Convoy to crack some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

He cited as an example its Automated Reloads product, a feature that corrects what Ismail described as the “terrible problem” of empty miles, in which trucks drive with empty trailers.

Launched in June, Automatic Reloads prepackages a collection of loads that take into consideration criteria such as the carriers’ lane preferences, driver hours of service availability and facility wait times.

The platform reduces empty miles by 45% for many drivers, according to Ismail. “That’s something we worked on for multiple years to get right,” he said.

In February, Convoy solved another problem it had been working on for several years: automatically matching 95% of loads with no human intervention.

Convoy Go, also unveiled in 2019, scaled up a two-year-old pilot project. The program utilizes a Convoy trailer pool and allows owner-operators and small fleets to take advantage of power-only loads, maximizing truckers’ driving time and leading to more loads and higher revenue.

Coming in 2020

Asked about the next round of innovations, Ismail hinted at even bigger breakthroughs to be rolled out in the next three to six months.

Declining to reveal specifics, he said the new products will push further on empty miles and reducing waiting time for drivers.

“The problem space is going to be quite consistent for us: driving down waste in the industry. That is our North Star. That is what we measure all our innovation against.”

Solving the waste conundrum addresses the trucking industry’s huge environmental challenges, Ismail said, while also yielding an attractive business model.

Companies named to the 2020 FreightTech 25 were judged by an external panel of industry experts, with voting conducted and overseen by accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

Each member of the panel ranked their top 25 companies on a 1- to 25-point basis. The companies generating the most points make up the FreightTech 25.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Loadboard aims to disrupt US trucking’s third-party disruptors

Loadboard aims to disrupt US trucking’s third-party disruptors B. Cassidy, Senior Editorwww.joc.com2019 11 21

Trucks being loaded.

In a big leap, Kane said is shooting to have 165,000 trucks on board by April 15. Photo credit:

The problem with the myriad companies vying for the title of “disruptor” in the truck freight market is they’re not disruptive enough, according to Matthew Kane. “The problem is, they’re still brokers,” said Kane, speaking of companies such as Uber Freight and Convoy in particular. They may offer new and innovative third-party services, but they’re still third parties.

Kane wants to build something different: a marketplace directly connecting shippers with trucking companies and owner-operators without an intermediary that arranges transportation. He’s been working on for several years and believes new or pending agreements with insurance and factoring companies will bring new truckers to the service.

Kane calls it ‘a fix, rather than disruption’

“We directly connect shipping manufacturing companies to screened qualified drivers,” Kane said. What doesn’t do is broker freight. “We’ve been called disruptive, but I’d prefer to categorize what we do as a fix, rather than disruption. We have built something that is quite unique, a real shipper-to-carrier loadboard.” A loadboard, he said, without brokers.

“The reason shippers use a freight broker or 3PL [third-party logistics provider] is the task of managing all those relationships” with carriers, Kane said. “We’re going to offer shippers that service, but we’ll give it to them for free. They can post freight on our board and connect and contract with the carrier themselves. We take out the over-complication,” along with an accumulated layer of costs, he said.

Technological disruption once was heralded as a way to eliminate middlemen, but that’s proven a difficult task. The internet was supposed to connect consumers and producers directly, for example. Instead, we have Amazon, the ultimate retail “middleman.” Likewise, technology hasn’t eliminated brokerage but allowed brokers to offer more services to shippers.

But it’s also offered an opening for Kane, who has been pursuing his goal of connecting shippers and truckers since 2011. His biggest challenge is one familiar to brokerages: gaining scale. “Right now we’ve got about 120 shippers and about 3,400 to 3,600 drivers,” Kane said. He thinks that number will rise with new insurance and factoring agreements.

Getting enough drivers on board has been a problem. The company stopped taking freight at one point and “relaunched” itself in 2017. The agreement with OTR Capital and another factoring company could bring thousands more drivers and companies to MyRiteLoad, he said. goal: 165,000 trucks by April 15

In a big leap, Kane said MyRiteLoad is shooting to have 165,000 trucks on board by April 15. The system is free for shippers to use, but drivers or trucking companies pay an $18 sign-up fee and $18 per assigned load. Truckers can also sign up for free and pay $27 per load. MyRiteLoad runs credit checks on shippers and checks driver qualifications.

The latest iteration of MyRiteLoad was introduced last year, along with Android and iPhone apps used by truckers and fleet dispatchers to find and assign loads. For shippers, the service includes shipment tracking and geofencing. Kane plans to add additional data-based services. “We’re giving the shipper tools to be more proficient to help reduce loading times,” Kane said.

Kane and MyRiteLoad differ from many competitors. They’re based in Philadelphia, not Silicon Valley. Kane previously published an automotive circular. He’s neither a techie nor a trucker by trade. His venture isn’t underwritten by venture capital. He is an entrepreneur, however, and after selling his publishing business he found himself looking for a new opportunity.

Meeting several truck drivers at an event in Washington, DC, several years ago sparked his interest. “One of my brothers is an over-the-road driver, and I remember hearing about problems with brokers and detention times at shippers,” he said. “I came back from that event and decided I wanted to find out more.” His research method involved a lot of time on the road.

“I went on a tour,” he said. “I drove around the country for eight and a half months and got perspective from a lot of drivers — reefers, flatbed, dry box guys, tankers — I talked to them all. It was like getting a master’s degree in eight months. I talked to shippers as well. I would pull into industrial parks and jump up on the docks, asking questions. I got perspective from both sides.”

The answers Kane received left him convinced shippers and truckers would be better off without brokers between them. Not that he thinks brokers are “bad,” but “they complicate the system,” he said. “We came up with a system that allows the shippers and carriers to bypass the rings of fire in the middle and communicate and contract directly. It really is just plain common sense.”

Direct access to a new source of capacity

There are plenty of 3PL companies, and carriers and shippers, that would vehemently disagree, but there are also shippers who would welcome and benefit from direct access to a new source of capacity. That’s what’s driving interest in digital marketplaces of all types for truckers and shippers, whether they are brokerages or include 3PLs or not.

Kane insists there are significant savings for shippers, and gains for truckers, in connecting directly through his system. “A broker will charge a shipper $2,000 for a load, and pay the trucker $1,600. Why not pay the trucker $1,900 directly and save $100 on the load?” he asked. When you save $100 on 1,000 loads on a weekly basis, that’s $100,000 a week.”

Increasingly, however, shippers are looking for more than transactional cost savings. Kane acknowledges that and is planning to add services to the marketplace, including more-sophisticated shipment monitoring, such as telematics. “I want to increase those value-adds,” he said. “I’ve got another two dozen pieces of the puzzle that I want to add to the system.”

Contact William B. Cassidy at and follow him on Twitter: @willbcassidy.