Business Startups Venture

SoftBank Vision Fund Leads Billion-Dollar Bet On Freight Firm Flexport

Illustration of delivery boxes outside a door. [Li Anne Dias]

The supergiant round trend continues.

Flexport, a freight forwarding and logistics platform, announced yesterday a $1 billion raise led by (surprise, surprise) SoftBank Vision Fund, which is backed by government capital from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, among other sources. The deal reportedly values Flexport at $3.2 billion, post-money.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

Existing investors Founders Fund, DST Global, Cherubic Ventures, Susa Ventures and Chinese express delivery firm S.F. Express also participated in the round. San Francisco-based Flexport was founded in 2013 and has been on a mission to digitally transform the multi-trillion dollar global logistics and freight forwarding sectors, both of which are notoriously fraught with inefficiencies and delays. Prior to this round, the company had raised a total of around $300 million.

With this deal, global logistics, supply chain management, and shipping funding (as defined by Crunchbase categories) is on the rise. Including this round from Flexport, over $2.5 billion has been invested in venture rounds raised by logistics, supply chain management, and shipping companies so far in 2019.

In 2018, over $13.38 billion was invested in the space, mostly concentrated in supergiant rounds raised by China-based JD Logistics and Manbang Group, as well as Indonesia-based Go-Jek.

Growth At Flexport

Last year was a good one for the startup.

Ryan Petersen, Flexport’s CEO and founder, wrote in a blog yesterday that in 2018 Flexport doubled its top-line revenue to nearly $500 million, upped its headcount to nearly 1,000 employees, and broadened its geographic footprint to 11 offices and warehouses globally. The company has 10,000 customers, according to Petersen.

Flexport, he wrote, is building what he described as an “Operating System for Global Trade,” or “a strategic operating model for global freight forwarding that combines technology and analytics, logistics infrastructure, and hands-on supply chain expertise.” As part of that, it’s looking to hire across the company and not just out of its San Francisco headquarters apparently.

Flexport is a Y-Combinator alum and the accelerator is a fan. Paul Graham, Y Combinator co-founder and partner, is quoted on the company’s website as saying that Flexport “is one of those rare companies that will not merely satisfy its market, but grow it. There will be more international trade because of Flexport, and international trade is a very big thing for there to be more of.”

Petersen is not just a funding recipient, he is an investor himself. According to his Crunchbase profile, Petersen has personally invested in more than a dozen companies including delivery startup Deliverr and fintech firm, Carta.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Copy link