Everyday thousands of trucks carry freight along U.S. highways, propelling the economy forward as consumer goods, electronics, cars and agriculture make their way to distribution centers, stores and eventually households. It's inside these trucks — many of which sit half empty — where Flock Freight, a five-year-old startup out of San Diego, believes it can transform the industry.
Now, it has the funds to try and do it.
Flock Freight said Tuesday it has raised $113.5 million in a Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners and Google Ventures also participated in the round, in addition to a new minority investment by strategic partner Volvo Group Venture Capital. Ervin Tu, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join Flock Freight's board. The company, which has raised $184 million to date, has post-funding valuation of $500 million, according to a source familiar with the deal who confirmed an earlier report by Bloomberg.
A slew of startups have popped up in the past several years all aiming to use technology to transform trucking — the backbone of the U.S. economy that moves more than 70% of all U.S. freight — into a more efficient machine. Most have focused on building digital freight networks that connect truckers with shippers.
Flock Freight has focused instead on the shipments themselves. The company created a software platform that helps pool shipments into a single shared truckload to make carrying freight more efficient. Flock Freight says its software avoids the traditional hub-and-spoke system, which is dominated by trucks with less than a full load, known in the industry as LTL. Flock Freight says that by pooling onto one truck shipments that are going the same direction, freight-related carbon emissions can be reduced by 40%.
The funds will be used to hire more employees; it has 129 employees to date.
"Unlike the digital freight-matching category that uses technology to simply improve efficiency as workflow automation, Flock Freight uses technology to power a new shipping mode (shared truckload) that makes freight transportation more efficient. The impact of Flock Freight's algorithms is that shippers no longer need to adhere to LTL constraints for freight that measures up to 44 linear feet; instead, they can classify it as 'shared truckload,' " Oren Zaslansky, founder and CEO of Flock Freight said in a statement. "Shippers can use Flock Freight's efficient shared truckload solution to accommodate high demand and increased urgency."
Their pitch has been compelling enough to attract a diverse mix of venture firms and corporate investors such as Volvo and SoftBank.
"Flock Freight is improving supply chain efficiency for hundreds of thousands of shippers. Our investment is intended to accelerate the company's ability to scale its business and capture a greater share of the market," said Tu, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers.