Investments

Logistics Startup Flexport Lands $1B Investment Led By SoftBank

SoftBank

Global investment firm SoftBank’s Vision Fund led a $1 billion funding round for Flexport, a logistics and freight startup, according to reports.

Flexport said it expects that the deal will be finalized in the second quarter of 2019, pending regulatory approval. News of the investment comes 24 hours after the vision fund led a $200 million investment in storage company Clutter.

The Vision Fund, which has capital of around $100 billion, has been investing in companies that use new technology to innovate old industries, including Uber, DoorDash and WeWork.

Flexport, a self described “modern freight forwarder,” moves packages and handles customs issues by air, sea, truck and railway. The company’s tech also gives data to customers that can aid in handling costs, track supply chains and illuminate issues like emission and container usage.

The company also supports less than full container options, which other companies treat as a lower priority.

“Our business is super scale-driven, and that’s SoftBank’s entire modus operandi,” Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen said. SoftBank wants “to drive and inject scale into companies, and help them go faster,” he said.

Petersen described the terms of the deal as “clean” and “founder friendly,” with SoftBank getting a board seat in the company — to be held by SoftBank Vision Fund Partner Michael Ronen — and no additional preferences on shares. Flexport didn’t disclose a valuation, but some analysts price it in the neighborhood of $3 billion.

Flexport said it doubled its revenue in the past year to nearly $500 million, and it now has 11 offices around the world with 1,000 employees. Flexport will use the new capital to expand and grow its customer base.

Amazon has also been investing in its own logistics lately.

“We’re in early days,” Ronen said. “Amazon is amazing at what it does, but there is a whole universe of merchants and global trade that is operating outside Amazon and doesn’t have their scale.” He went on to say that SoftBank’s investment in Flexport “is not so much about going against Amazon, but supporting everyone else that needs a better solution and needs some scale.”

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