Tech celebs behind $62m Convoy investment

Some of the biggest names in technology, including Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff and Bill Gates, were involved in the latest funding round for Seattle-based freight matching marketplace Convoy.

   Even in an era of almost unprecedented interest and venture capital investment in transportation and logistics technology, the list of investors in Seattle-based freight matching technology provider Convoy stands out.
   The company on Monday announced a new $62 million round of funding, its third in total, led by the investment arm one of the world’s most famous technology startup accelerators, Y Combinator.
   Convoy, which competes in an increasingly crowded space of startup technology companies looking to digitally match spare trucking capacity with available loads, counts a number of even more famous names as investors in its platform. Seed investors include Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos (through his Bezos Expeditions investment arm) and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
   The company’s second round of investment, called a Series A, was led by Greylock Partners, with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman prominently involved. The latest round includes investment from Bill Gates (through his Cascade Investment vehicle), Expedia Chairman Barry Diller, Benioff, and Greylock, among others.
   The investment shows just how thoroughly the logistics industry has caught the eye of rock star tech investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. It also shows that these investors have an appetite to compete in a market where there are not only a handful of promising startups, but also established players like freight brokerages C.H. Robinson, Echo Global Logistics, and XPO Logistics, as well as traditional online load boards that have increasingly modernized their technology.
   All of these companies are investing aggressively in technology, aiming to grab their share of a massive freight market where startups are trying to re-orient how people book freight through more digitally-oriented processes.
   Uber launched its own marketplace earlier in 2017, but American Shipper has learned the company’s freight division is essentially acting as a traditional brokerage while it builds density and balance in its marketplace model.
Amazon itself was rumored in late 2016 to be building a marketplace of its own, with a predicted launch in mid-2017, but the company has not made any official announcements regarding such plans as of yet.
   And company with a similar model, New York-based Transfix, recently netted $42 million in its own third round of funding.
Convoy founder Dan Lewis recently told Forbes that the funding will be used to geographically expand Convoy’s platform to cover more of the eastern United States.
   According to Bloomberg, the investment in Convoy by Y Combinator is “the first time the Silicon Valley firm has invested in a company that wasn’t incubated in its startup program.”

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