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Jeff Bezos invests in UK digital freight forwarder created by ex-Uber employees

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, is among the new investors in a UK digital freight forwarder created by ex-employees from Uber.

London-based Beacon, which describes itself as a “next generation freight forwarding and supply chain finance company”, has just raised over $15m in its Series A fundraising round, with investors including Bezos and US venture capital firm 8VC.

Beacon was founded in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives. They were joined by CTO Pierre Martin, previously at Amazon.

“The freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1 trillion and $12 trillion a year, respectively, with the former still a highly fragmented market in which the top ten forwarders globally control just 43%. Many of the logistics incumbents have been slow to digitise, and with fewer than 30% of shippers being satisfied with the customer service they receive, the industry is ripe for disruption,” a Beacon release yesterday claimed.

Beacon offers a full range of services, including global ocean, air and truck freight, together with supply chain finance, all of which can be accessed and managed on a single platform.

The company uses AI, search, optimisation, data science, cloud and automation technologies to unlock operational efficiencies. The platform combines a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo and a marketplace view of global shipping costs and prices, all powered by machine learning that optimises shipping routes and processes.

Participants in Beacon’s initial seed round included Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as venture firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs. The money raised in this Series A round will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion.

Beacon co-founder and CEO Fraser Robinson said: “Beacon has attracted investment from some of the best minds in business and technology. The traditional freight forwarder model remains surprisingly analogue, using systems and processes that are slow and inefficient, with opaque pricing and limited use of technology.

“Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarding market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product. We also believe that our ability to offer supply chain finance can be transformative for our customers by allowing them to better control and manage their cash flow. We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time – these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence.

“With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of Covid-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever. Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively, enhance their experience and cut their costs. We look forward to meeting that demand.”

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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.

Comments

  1. Pandemic does not make people better. The work that dozens of people around the world were doing until now, will only require in the imminent future envisioned by the american magnate a single person connected to a computer. For this to be possible, someone will have to increase spending on unemployment and social services, and nobody talks about that. People must wake up before everything you own be stolen.

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