AXSMarine: Platform wars reignite

AXSMarine: Platform wars reignite

Jacques Goudchaux admits a sense of déjà vu with the current shipping platform wars. The
 CEO 
of France’s AXSMarine has been here before. Rivals are popping up – and taking pops – at his company, just as they did a generation ago at the time of the dotcom boom.

AXSMarine is one of the few survivors from those heady days around the turn of the century and Goudchaux reckons he knows why. He recalls how when AXSMarine was launched, rival LevelSeas was “noisily” promoting how its platform was going to revolutionise the way the business of shipping was done. Goudchaux recently met up with Richard Hext, the CEO of the now defunct LevelSeas. Hext, a serial entrepreneur and long term Swire executive, admitted one of the things LevelSeas had done wrong was trying to replace or kick out brokers.

“Our model was the complete opposite,” Goudchaux recalls in an exclusive interview with Maritime CEO. “We considered all of the players because shipbroker BRS was and is the main shareholder of the company, so as a way to serve the industry we wanted to facilitate everyone’s role in the industry, not to kick people out. This has proven to be right.”

Back in 2001 there were more than 80 broking/chartering initiatives launched online – AXSMarine stands out today as the sole survivor.

Fast-forward 17 years and AXSMarine is no longer the upstart, rather the target of a new swathe of platforms keen to take market share away from the established top dog of shipping internet ventures.

Goudchaux is not happy with the attacks his company is taking from these new entrants, but admits it is all part of the job.

“There are other people who have come back 15 years later trying to imitate us to be the next AXSMarine, such as Ocean Freight Exchange,” Goudchaux says of the Singapore chartering platform launched a couple of years ago and run by John Hahn.

“We follow each and every announcement,” Goudchaux says of the sudden mushrooming of new rivals.

Shipamax, the UK-based bulk broking tool, founded two years ago also comes in for criticism from Goudchaux.

“Shipamax were loud to everyone that they had raised money from Silicon Valley. Also like Mr Hahn does, they are trying to destroy the image of other companies, with AXSMarine being the main target.”

Still, Goudchaux is adamant the expertise and tools at AXSMarine’s disposal should see off this new rounder of contenders.

“My view is that, like in 2000, this new wave of funding I would bet in two or three years most, if not all of these, have gone bust we will go back to more quiet times like before,” he predicts.

Goudchaux had ambitions of a career in professional sport before he entered the shipping world. A brilliant skier, he also took to motor racing, getting as far as Formula 3000, the next rung down from Formula One. When his racing career came to end he joined France’s largest shipbroker, BRS, in 1990. He focused on the chartering of liner ships for the next 25 years, also starting Alphaliner in 2000, which is today among the most respected sources of liner data in the world. Five years ago he took over AXSMarine.

Today, the revenues of AXSMarine are roughly split 40% with AXSDry, 40% with Alphaliner, 15% with AXSTanker and the remaining 5% is made up of ad hoc reports.

The company has just released a new tanker module, Alphatanker, which is open to principles only, where as AXSTanker is open to brokers only.

Another new development is a communication tool – AXSMail, which is completely embedded with AXSDry. The reader is a system that the company has developed and takes out data, handling thousands of emails a day that readers do not need to read on cargo positions, available ships, etc.

“It’s a massive game changer,” Goudchaux claims. Marketing of this new tool is expected to commence next month.

Goudchaux is especially keen to highlight to Maritime CEO readers another new creation from his skilled team of developers, Trade Flows, a tool to keep track of all dry bulk and tanker vessel and commodity movements.

“The range and variety of systems we offer is unique,” Goudchaux insists, maintaining: “We focus on data and tools, which separates us.”

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jenna Brown
    August 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Jaques, Jenna here from Shipamax.

    I don’t feel your comment that we are trying to “destroy the image of other companies” is fair – moreover I find this defamatory. Shipamax compares on a factual feature basis, and have steered well clear from accusations other software companies in the industry have made about AXS. Happy to have a discussion on this matter directly.

    We wish you continued luck in the roll out of new products. Indeed, we see AXS as a formidable provider of a wide range of products for brokers. We see the Shipamax overlap as minor, as our tool tends to go deeper in one area vs. broad across the spectrum.

    1. Avatar
      Jacques Goudchaux
      August 13, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Hello Jenna,

      My statement reflects facts.

      When Shipamax writes below about AXSMarine, this is a mix of false statements and insinuations that have no ground at all. I can send you copy of these inappropriate statements Shipamax did or publish them here via an appropriate link for clarification sake to Splash247 readers. We observed though that most recently, Shipamax have steered away from such defamatory attitude and this all for good for the industry.

      False or negative statements from Shipamax about AXSMarine:

      – Data sold to external research team
      – No API for integration with other systems
      – Clunky to use

      Statement from Shipamax about AXSMarine insinuating non neutrality in the way AXSMarine is treating its clients which is not true:

      – Owned by BRS and Oldendorff

      ++

      I am happy to discuss further directly as you proposed.

      Jacques

  2. Avatar
    Jenna Brown
    August 13, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Jaques,

    I think there has been a misunderstanding, and I feel the above is not true.

    We do firmly believe in fair competition and so if you believe this is not the case, I would welcome you to send any grievances to me directly on jenna [at] shipamax [dot] com. I will personally make sure that external communications about your company are handled fairly – although we may disagree on some areas 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Jacques Goudchaux
    August 14, 2018 at 12:58 am

    Jenna,

    There is no misunderstanding of any kind. What I stated is 100% true.
    It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. Facts are stubborn.

    I am refering to facts only and you know them for sure, as simple as that. To be very concrete, I will have the courtesy of sending you these evidences by email as you required and those will 100% demonstrate what I reported.

    AXSMarine always supports fair competition and I am glad to read that this is now also the case your end, so no hard feeling if you now personnaly control any possible external communication about AXSMarine though there probably does not need to be any, I believe.

    BTW, as you underlined, AXSMarine solutions are widely adopted by brokers of course but also in equal proportions by the biggest names in the industry consisting of principals, shipwoners, operators, trading houses and also various financial institutions. I am pretty confidernt you knew that too.

    All the best
    Jacques

  4. Avatar
    sorrel
    August 14, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    Nice to read (the article! as the battle w/ shipamax may have been a better call from Jenna to remain private, but ok, not my business at the end).
    I still believe -for various reasons- what was the right strategy in 2001 (facilitate the work for everyone in the Industry, including Brokers) might not remain the key point in 2018. The “User Experience” or in other words the “simplicity” to use these plateforms will be the main decision maker for future consumers (assuming all datas and information provided by the plateform are 100% right).

  5. Avatar
    Jacques Goudchaux
    August 17, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Hello Sorrel,

    Appreciate the thoughts you shared and agree that the user experience and relative simplicty to use the platforms is one of the fundamental key to success provided all associated data and information are of very good quality. This is a subtile mix.

    Being 100% right everywhere in data is certainly a chimera but it is AXSMarine’s target and we feel/pretend being close to such magic figure in quite a number of areas. Rest assured that we spare no effort to complete the big puzzle.

    All of these aspects participate in the way things and AXSMarine have evolved over the past 18 years to adapt and keep on serving the industry best possible. This is valid both in generic terms and within details of what people expect.

  6. Avatar
    Alexander Varvarenko
    August 17, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    All of these solutions, AXS, SHIPNEXT, and others are centralized. They have to integrate and cooperate, to create better value, include blockchain and thus become de-centralized.
    This will restrict any one of them, at any given moment terminate or disrupt the environment they create. Whether by external attack or intentionally.
    Those who join and consolidate – always win. Especially in IT industry.