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DB Schenker buys into American online trucking startup

The ongoing digitisation of the freight transport industry continues with news German logistics giant DB Schenker has bought a $25m stake in Texas-based uShip, an online platform that links shippers with truckers. DB Schenker, owned by Germany’s rail network and founded in 1872, will get a seat on the board of the startup. The move follows on from an agreement between the two last summer to help pair shippers with truckers across Europe.

The uShip news is the latest in a raft of digital developments set to transform the freight transport scene this year. In the world of container shipping, both Maersk and CMA CGM have signed with Chinese online retail giant Alibaba to allocate space on their ships for Alibaba clients, while rival American firm, Amazon has kicked off operations as a fully fledged ocean freight forwarder. In the world of dry bulk, the world’s largest miner BHP Billiton recently unveiled an online auction platform for owners to bid for shipments, bypassing the traditional role of the shipbroker in the process.

Commenting on the latest news, K D Adamson, founder of Futurenautics, told Splash today: “Digital platforms drive collaborations and investments around which new ecosystems form, blurring the traditional boundaries between vertical markets – that’s the trajectory of the digital economy, and its only going to accelerate in shipping. These ecosystems are where value and profits lie in the future.”

Adamson, who describes herself as a blue futurist, will be on a very high calibre panel for the Future of Shipping session at the Maritime CEO Forum, organised by the parent firm of this site. The by-invitation-only forum is scheduled at the top end of Singapore Maritime Week, on April 24 at the Fullerton Hotel.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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