Money is flowing into supply chain and logistics technologies as companies seek answers to growing concerns about the visibility of products moved in shipping containers.
BlueCargo, a logistics software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform aiming to optimize the entire container workflow from port to warehouse, raised $11 million in new funding led by Soma Capital and Left Lane Capital, bringing its total raised to date to $15 million.
Additionally, logistics software platform Slync.io secured $24 million of new venture capital funding in the wake of a major scandal involving its former CEO who was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission this month. The round was led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Blumberg Capital, Acme Ventures, Gaingels and other existing investors.
BlueCargo nabs $11 million
BlueCargo will use the funding to expand its geographic footprint in North America, invest in its core BlueCargo Connect technology, and hire talent in product and engineering with the goal of doubling its in-house U.S.-based engineering team.
The platform connects importers, logistics providers or drayage carriers to move cargo on time at the ports so they can avoid paying demurrage and per diem fees.
Instead of navigating multiple, scattered pieces of information, BlueCargo provides container level tracking, audit trail visibility and documentation, in one single window connected to all of North America’s busiest container ports.
BlueCargo’s proprietary algorithms aggregate hundreds of different sources of information to showcase reliable data and empower operators to adapt in real time. This data helps containers flow from port to the first-mile destination faster, more reliably and cost-effectively.
Today, 1,200 drayage trucking companies are using BlueCargo to schedule their daily container pickups and returns, with the firm claiming it operates the largest operational drayage carrier connected network in the U.S.
“Pre-Covid, companies didn’t have an appreciation of the detailed costs of drayage,” said Alexandra Griffon, CEO and co-founder of BlueCargo, in a statement. “This has changed as companies are looking to streamline their operations and want to know the true cost of drayage.”
Griffon said BlueCargo has already saved one of its customers, freight brokerage firm Forrest Logistics, more than $5 million in fees.
BlueCargo was co-founded by Griffon and chief product officer Laura Theveniau, with the company graduating out of startup accelerator Y Combinator, which previously backed fellow logistics players Flexport, Convoy and Shipamax.
BlueCargo’s funding comes to a logistics sector plagued by a lack of consistent standards, data sharing and interoperability—slowing down communication and ultimately hampering visibility into goods. Shippers often find out their products were lost overboard days or weeks after an incident occurred, while dispatchers rely on phone calls and text messages to know the gate schedules and ask the terminals for exemptions.
While working on the terminal operating system Navis at the Port of Oakland, Griffon and Theveniau realized that bottlenecking at ports can often mean shippers have to contend with safety stocks, frozen capital and billions of dollars lost on inefficiencies, detention and demurrage fees.
“Alexandra and Laura bring a unique innovative view on making an efficient port supply chain” said Mir Faiyaz, partner at Soma Capital, in a statement. “We’re confident that the ‘why now’ has never been more apparent, with supply chains facing secular challenges around labor availability, and cascading blockages, which add to the need to develop systems that promote transparency and data availability. BlueCargo’s mix of product expertise, and focus on customer experience, provide a compelling argument for them to capture the massive opportunity ahead. In two years, BlueCargo has grown from a four-person to a 35-person team while revenue and users grew exponentially.”
Slync raises $24 million
Meanwhile, Slync’s new funding round comes as the company tries to distance itself from its former CEO and co-founder Chris Kirchner, who was charged last month for fraudulently selling more than $67 million in securities.
The platform, which is backed by Goldman Sachs and was at one point valued at more than $240 million, automates backend logistics functions, such as documentation, invoicing and carrier management.
Slync says its technology can consume, interpret and standardize supply chain data, before using it to automate operational processes—aiming to improve productivity and service-level reliability.
Drawing on a range of data sources including enterprise resource management systems, customer relationship management systems, transport management systems, visibility service providers, email, PDFs and spreadsheets, Slync highlights key information for users, offering collaboration tools and “role-based” workflows for communicating and sharing that info.
The technology brings together different data types, process automation and AI that can map to human workflows. This system is designed to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming manual tasks while improving visibility for all supply chain stakeholders.
Slync’s primary product lines include Intelligent Carrier Management, which automates the complete freight booking process for large logistics service providers and shippers; and Intelligent Order Orchestration, which automates order-related processes between core systems of record and standalone tools such as email and spreadsheets.
The platform also powers a suite of configurable business intelligence dashboards that provide real-time transactional performance insights.
“Our customers recognize the power and potential of the Slync platform, and our investor partners do as well,” said John Urban, chairman and CEO of Slync, in a statement. “Every day, millions of emails, spreadsheets, PDFs and messages are exchanged as part of the logistics management process, yet most existing systems only capture a fraction of them, and that’s a big, expensive problem. Slync has the technology to finally solve it.”
Port throughput continues steady decline
The funding news for both platforms comes as slowing demand alleviates some of the congestion at ports worldwide.
According to The Global Port Throughput Index from Drewry, overall throughput fell 3 percent month over month and 0.7 percent year over year in December last year, with Greater China being the only region tracked that posted annual gains. Drewry’s “nowcasting” model, which uses vessel capacity and terminal duration data, estimates a further 0.5 percent worldwide year-over-year decline in January 2023.
The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of calendar-adjusted volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data using a sample of more than 340 ports worldwide, representing over 80 percent of global volumes.
The base point for the indices is 100, collected on January 2019. The estimated number for January 2023 is 101.9, which is the lowest since 101.4 in July 2020.
While the Drewry Greater China Port Throughput Index was down 6 percent month over month in December 2022, it was 8.1 percent higher YoY. Container throughput across the major ports in the Greater China region performed well in December with positive annual growth, except in Hong Kong where volumes were down 7 percent year over year. The Port of Shanghai reported a 3.1 percent year over year increase in December, regaining market share from Ningbo, where traffic levels were stable vs. December 2021, but 12 percent below the volume handled November 2022.
The Drewry North American Port Throughput Index declined 6.6 percent month over month and an even steeper 11.4 percent annually to 95.5 points in December 2022. All major West Coast ports posted a year-over-year decline in December. After witnessing an 8.8 percent decline in November, Oakland traffic dropped 12 percent month over month in December 2022, while throughput at Vancouver, which was struggling with winter weather delays, declined 24.9 percent month over month.
The Drewry European Port Throughput Index showed a slight 0.9 percent sequential improvement after six months of continuous decline, but still ended the year 8 percent lower than in December 2022. The European market struggled with multiple disruptions during 2022, including the war in Ukraine, sanctions on trade with Russia, steep inflation and labor disputes. As a result, throughput at the majority of main European ports declined in 2022.