What a difference a week makes. Where the Investment Tracker logged anemic activity barely above the triple-digit level two weeks ago, in this past week PYMNTS saw a relatively staggering volume of fund flows. In the billions of dollars. Think several billions of dollars and, in fact, $4.4 billion in total.
Now, to be fair, a big chunk of that action, as much as $3.3 billion, was tied to a single deal, as SoftBank spent that amount to acquire Fortress Investment Group. The move, said various financial publications, represents a push beyond the SoftBank traditional playing fields of tech and telecom. The next largest deal came as Silver Lake and SoftBank invested $500 million in SoFi. (Most of the deals this past week were rather sibilant.) The cash infusion is geared toward helping the online lender build up a capital bulwark in an environment that has been a bit of rough sledding for financing done over the internet in general.
Reaching a bit further down the ladder, we see that in another financial firm–related transaction, with the online lender Bond Street gathering as much as $300 million in loan purchase commitments, where Jefferies had committed to that amount. Bond Street has broadened its portfolio to embrace loan activity ranging from $10,000 to $1 million, and that takes the place of a book of business that had ranged from $50,000 to $500,000.
uShip Closes $25M Series D, Plans Future Of Logistics Automation
Online marketplace for shipping, freight and transport services uShip had a strong close to 2016, said CEO Mike Williams. The company reportedly saw 40 percent growth year on year, along with maturation across uShip’s main delivery segments.
Founded in 2003, uShip began as a way to connect large shipments with empty truck space. Today, uShip operates in 19 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Austin Texas and Amsterdam. The company’s online marketplace allows customers —individuals, SMBs and high-volume enterprise shippers — to search for logistics service providers, book jobs, and ship locally or globally.
Last week, uShip closed a $25 million Series D led by DB Schenker, a global logistics company. To date, uShip has raised $50 million in venture funding.
“At the highest level, this is an industry that’s attracting a lot of attention from investors,” Williams said. “With uShip specifically, there was inbound interest last summer, and given how big the market opportunity is, it made sense for us to pursue.”
Williams noted that both uShip and DB Schenker, an existing partner, share a common vision for the future of the shipping and logistics ecosystem.
“There’s an industry transformation under way,” Williams said. “If you’re in business today, you’re looking to do everything possible to drive more value for your customers while also delivering in the most operationally efficient manner.”
For uShip, the path to optimization and driving value can be found in how companies are leveraging technology.
Williams said that uShip will use the latest round of funding to accelerate the development of its logistics software platform across its key segments. Additionally, uShip will be allocating a portion of the funds to go toward marketing efforts.
On the enterprise level, uShip and DB Schenker recently debuted Drive4Schenker, an online trucking platform powered by enterprise freight automation technology uShip PRO.
“Think of a dispatcher in Warsaw, matching freight sitting in Spain with a driver in France,” Williams said. “It’s a product that could make things easier for them.”
Drive4Schenker just recently launched in Germany. The platform enables some 30,000 Schenker transport providers to optimize management of 5,000 loads per day. The platform will continue to roll out across Europe in the coming months and will continue to develop and evolve as it does, Williams said.
On the SMB end, Williams said that uShip is currently developing additional features on its marketplace to meet the particular needs of that segment. He noted that while many small to mid-sized manufacturers and companies are seeing growth, it’s still not large enough to secure the best contract rates.
“That SMB shipper will need features on the marketplace that make it more operationally efficient,” Williams said. “We’re working to bring those features to market — access to high-quality, reliable carriers with good rates.”
Williams said that uShip is also currently working on developing features to optimize the online shipping marketplace for individual consumers, the cornerstone of uShip’s services.
“I’s where uShip grew up, and individuals remain a very important part of our business. Specifically, we’re working to develop features that repeat shippers can benefit from,” Williams said.