Softbank Strikes Again With Flexport

SAN FRANCISCO — The Softbank Vision Fund has struck again. This time, the massive venture fund has led a $1 billion round in Flexport, which operates a digital freight forwarding platform. In addition to Softbank, others participating include existing investors Founders Fund, DST Global, Cherubic Ventures, Susa Ventures and SF Express.

Flexport said it will use the new money to deepen its technology and data capabilities, grow its global logistics infrastructure footprint, and invest in industry expertise to help clients navigate increasingly complex global trade environments.

“Our vision is to unite the planet in a seamless web of commerce, unhindered by physical borders, boundaries or political agendas,” said Ryan Petersen, founder and CEO of Flexport. “The Vision Fund shares our belief in using technology to create a better, more interconnected world and their support will propel us into that future, making global trade easier for everyone.”

Flexport is trying to disrupt the $2 trillion freight forwarding market and even larger global logistics industry.

“Logistics is a $7 trillion industry that is crucial for global trade, yet extraordinarily fragmented. Even the largest companies only hold single-digit market share,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA). “Flexport’s pioneering use of technology and its data advantage position the company for exceptional growth in this multi-trillion dollar industry.” Ronen will represent SBIA on the Flexport board, and Ed Shrager, director at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join as a board observer.

In 2018, Flexport doubled top-line revenue, generated nearly $500 million in sales, increased headcount to nearly 1,000 employees, expanded its geographic presence to 11 offices and warehouses around the world, and in September achieved the ranking of 11th largest freight forwarder by ocean volume on the world’s largest shipping lane, the Transpacific Eastbound. The company’s growth directly benefits its customers through geographic network density, greater purchasing scale, and improved data-driven decision making and routing optimization. Today, Flexport connects almost 10,000 clients and suppliers across more than 200 countries.

The company expects the financing to close in the second quarter upon the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.