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Bill Gates Joins All Star Lineup Backing Uber Freight Rival

July 28, 2017, 07:19 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has joined a group of big name investors who hope to give Uber a run for its money in the emerging market for on-demand freight-sharing.

The software pioneer recently joined a group of financers that includes former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and media magnate Barry Diller to pump $62 million into Convoy - a technology-enabled platform that matches drivers with hauls. The Series B Financing was led by Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund. Other investors include Greylock Partners, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, former Starbucks President Howard Behar, founders Hadi and Ali Partovi, and the founders & CEOs of eBay, Instagram, KKR, and DropBox, among others. Anu Hariharan and Ali Rowghani, partners in the YC Continuity Fund, joined the Convoy board of directors.

Convoy was the brainchild of Amazon when it hit the Seattle tech scene in 2015, promising to be the "Uber for Trucks." In January 2017 Convoy hired Uber’s former Seattle Software Engineering chief Tim Prouty as head of engineering.

Just a few months later Uber launched its Uber Freight platform. Like Convoy, Uber's app matches trucking companies with loads to be hauled. The company believes it will make “logistics and transportation as magical as pressing a button and getting a taxi,” according to Eric Berdinis, product lead for Uber Freight.

But now Uber Freight finds itself up against an even more formidable rival. Convoy says it will use the new funds to accelerate product development and expand its trucking marketplace nationally.

“By improving trucking, Convoy is improving the foundation of our economy,” said Anu Hariharan, Partner, YC Continuity, in a press statement. “This service allows shippers to transform their supply chains at the same time that it allows carriers to grow their businesses more quickly, on their own terms. In 10 years, we’ll be astonished that this was ever done another way.”

With Convoy, verified carriers gain access to personalized job offers and free tools to manage their fleet, reduce overhead, and cut down paperwork. Convoy’s network of truck drivers bring industry-leading service to shippers of all sizes, including Fortune 500 brands Unilever and Anheuser-Busch, as well as Niagara Bottling and Tenaris. This performance has earned Convoy rapid growth, with volume doubling each quarter, as well as formal recognition from its customers. Unilever awarded Convoy its global 2017 Partner to Win Visionary Award in May. At the ceremony, Unilever Chief Procurement Officer Dhaval Buch praised Convoy for “playing a vital role in helping us to deliver our sustainability commitments and support our growth with their capacity, capabilities, innovations and new technologies.” Additionally, Convoy received recognition in the technology community when it was awarded Geekwire’s 2017 Startup of The Year.

“Ask any shipper or truck driver about their business and they’ll point out a dozen things that could run better. Technology is changing this. Now people are excited about the possibilities for innovation,” said Convoy CEO, Dan Lewis. “Convoy’s mobile app and automated brokerage raise the bar for service reliability and reduce wasted miles—increasing revenue and improving operations for everyone involved.”

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