Dynamo Dispatch (06/01/20)

Issue 108 | Warehouse Exchange, Platform Science, Samsara

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

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🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

We had Ken Braunbach, VP of Transportation for Walmart join us on Episode #52 of the Future of Supply Chain. Check it out if you haven’t already!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

📊 Warehouse Space: A New Strategy for a New Reality. In a new whitepaper, Steve Purvis, operations director at Bis Henderson Space, argues that businesses will be better served by adopting a resilient strategy that utilizes flexible warehouse space on an ongoing and coordinated basis.  Rejecting just-in-time logistics, he makes the case that supply and demand shocks will only continue post-quarantine with “core” or “steady state” inventory declining as a proportion of the whole. 

📊 Top 100 US Importer and Exporter Rankings 2019. Walmart and Koch Industries top the charts respectively as America’s largest importer and exporter by TEU. With the US-China trade war diminishing total US imports from Asia, Walmart’s volume in 2019 in fact declined from 2018 levels whereas Koch Industries’ exports rose 13.5% to 283,511 TEU. Meanwhile Bimco’s chief analyst, Peter Sand has a dour outlook for ocean freight through 2020: 'No hope' of Bounce-Back in Demand for Container Shipping This Year.

JD Boosts Logistics Network as China’s e-Commerce Players Prepare for Spending Frenzy at 618 Festival. As China approaches its annual midyear 618 online shopping festival, e-commerce giant JD has doubled down on its logistics capabilities in preparation of this first major shopping event after coronavirus. The company has increased its total number of automated logistics parks across the country to 28, positioned regionally and equipped with big data forecasting to support same-day and next-day shipping. Also strengthening its own supply chain, Amazon to Keep Most of the Jobs It Added During Pandemic

Startup Funding in Logistics. The 120 biggest logistics startups have received more than 93% of total logistics funding to date. For startups looking to enter the space, McKinsey recommends they 1) expand their scale and have a compelling sales process, 2) showcase profitability, and 3) stay flexible in an industry with strong network effects and economies of scale. 

Regulatory Hurdles Stand between Drones and Trucks Working Together in the Last Mile. In a recent paper, Matthias Winkenbach, director of MIT’s Megacity Logistics Lab, posits a hybrid truck and drone delivery model as the best solution for covering rural areas. To ensure both public safety and clarity for the private sector, Winkenbach recommends that regulators today start setting limits for drone flight paths and conditions to guide the responsible deployment of the new technology. Also in the last mile: A City Locks Down to Fight Coronavirus, but Robots Come and Go. Meanwhile, UPS Adds Peak Delivery Surcharge to Manage E-Commerce Demand Amid Coronavirus.

🌟Companies Lean on Freight Technology to Untangle Scrambled Supply Chains. From FouKites to Turvo, the need has never been higher for startups offering visibility over supply chains and helping to reduce demand volatility. “You’re seeing an acceleration of a lot of that technology. The next phase is more about scenario planning,” observes Bart De Muynck, vice president of research at Gartner Inc. In related news, truck-maker Daimler has announced a partnership with startup Platform Science to install its open platform for third-party apps directly onto trucks as Trucking Looks to Bundle Up Technology.

How Lockdown Is Changing Shopping for Good. “The way we shop is changing: the future of retail automation is smaller, closer to home, and more flexible,” asserts Will Douglas Heaven. As customers purchase more online with expectations of same-day delivery, prescient retailers are turning to smaller-scale, modular automation distributed across multiple locations to better manage spikes and meet customer expectations. In an adjacent space, Industrial Distribution examines opportunities in the health care, grocery, and auto parts sectors to answer Where Do Distributors Go From Here?

Mobility 🚗

The Collapse of Rush Hour: A Deep Dive. With rush hour traffic declining more significantly than all-day demand, a shift is likely underway in overall public transit patterns. If sustained, this trend is potentially great news for metro communities: by spreading out the peak hours of public transit use, operators can improve the productivity of their vehicles as measured by ridership over operating costs. In a related piece, Jarred Johnson ponders how best to improve public transit as demand returns in Rush Hour Is Over – So What Comes Next?

The Woman Tasked with Saving the Subway Is Still Commuting on It. Stepping up after the departure of the broadly popular Andy Byford, Sarah Feinberg is New York City Transit’s new interim president. Despite previously leading the Federal Railroad Administration under President Obama, the challenges faced so far by Feinberg have been unparalleled from criticisms over transit policing to ridership declining more than 90%. Also in New York mobility: NYC Bike and Open Streets Map

📊 COVID-19: A Watershed Moment for Shared Mobility. While pandemic-related shutdowns have severely impacted consumer travel in recent months, Pitchbook argues that persistent shifts in attitudes around congestion might actually spur the long term growth of micro-mobility startups. Anticipating permanent declines in public transportation ridership, the report points to the explosive growth of e-bike sales as an indicator that shared micro-mobility may in fact be the future of transit for many around the world. In related news, Uber Is Scrapping Tens of Thousands of Jump Bikes during a Nationwide Bike Shortage meanwhile Lime Partners with Allianz to Improve Safety of Micromobility.

📊Bloomberg’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020. Bloomberg projects China and Europe to comprise 72% of all passenger electric vehicle sales in 2030 given their supportive regulations and EV credit schemes. However, the US is expected to catch up during the mid-2030’s as home charging and EV economics make electrification more popular. In perhaps their boldest prediction, Bloomberg anticipates that by 2040 just under 500M of the world’s 1.6B total passenger vehicles will be electric. In the present day hurdles abound as Costly Electric Vehicles Confront a Harsh Coronavirus Reality but, as the report suggests, government regulation looks to spur the change as Europe Eclipses China in Electric Vehicle Investment.

Boeing Details Plans for Mass Job Cuts. Following the collapse in global air travel, the Chicago-based aerospace company plans to reduce its workforce by more than 13,000 employees. Far from alone, Boeing rivals Airbus and General Electric have also been forced to cut thousands of jobs as demand for new jetliners has plummeted. It’s been a tough week for airlines as well as American Airlines to Cut 30% of Management and Administrative Staff.

UK Car Output in April Falls to Lowest Since World War II Era. Total vehicle production in April was just 197 cars according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The calamitous drop-off due to COVID-related factory shutdowns represents a whopping 99.7% decline in output. However, the forecast improves as Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have since returned to operations in May with Honda and Nissan likewise expected to reopen factories in June.

🌟Amazon in Advanced Talks to Buy Self-Driving-Car Tech Company Zoox. Doubling down on self-driving startups after its 2019 investment in Aurora Innovation, Amazon is reportedly poised to purchase the cash-strapped Zoox. The deal would drop Zoox’s valuation below the $3.2B mark it had achieved during its last funding round in 2018. Morgan Stanley anticipates that Amazon could use the acquisition To Make Discounted Robo-taxi Rides a Perk for Prime Subscribers.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Greyparrot Raises £1.8M Seed Led by Speedinvest. The London-based startup applies artificial intelligence software to efficiently process waste at scale. Using its Automated Waste Monitoring System to improve data visibility and increase recycling rates, Greyparrot looks to expand operations with its latest round of funding as it targets the 2B tons of solid waste produced globally each year.

Warehouse Exchange Raises $2.2M in Seed Funding. The self-described “AirBnB of warehouse space” offers a marketplace for operators to rent out their space flexibly. Participating in the round were Xebec Realty and other undisclosed investors.

Datch Raises $3.2M Seed Led by Blue Bear Capital. Based in London, Datch has developed a voice interface platform designed for the industrial environment to reduce time spent logging information. Stage Venture Partners, Tuhua Ventures, Lorimer Ventures, Predictive Venture Partners, and Plug and Play Ventures also joined in the raise.

Commerce Layer Raises $6M Series A Led by Benchmark. The developer of a “headless” e-commerce platform, this Italian startup provides an API-based system capable of taking orders through multiple websites, marketplaces, and apps. The investment will help fund expansion and the addition of new endpoints.

Milkman Raises €25 million in Its Third Round of Funding. The Milan-based startup specializes in same-day last-mile deliveries for e-commerce companies. The new funds will help fund its expansion throughout Italy and internationally.

Scandit Raises $80M Series C Led by G2VP. The Swiss startup has developed a barcode scanning platform designed for any camera-equipped smart device. The new funding will support further research and development as well as the business’ expansion through APAC and Latin America. 

Bolt Raises €100M from Naya Capital Management. The ride-hailing service originating from Estonia now covers 150 cities across Europe, Africa, Asia and Mexico. With the investment, Bolt intends to expand its micromobility and food delivery products across Europe and Africa. 

Samsara Networks Raises $400M. The San Francisco-based IoT developer raises $400M in a down round that cuts the company’s valuation 14% from its last raise. New investors participating in the round include AllianceBernstein, Franklin Templeton, General Atlantic, Sands Capital Management and Warburg Pincus.

SoftBank Leads $500M Investment in Didi’s Self-Driving Car Unit. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 leads massive round to support the roll out of Didi Chuxing’s “robo-taxi” service. The funding will support further R&D and deployment of autonomous vehicles both within China and internationally. 

DHL Acquires Stake in Link Commerce. DHL has acquired a minority stake in Nigerian startup Link Commerce, a digital-retail platform that enables merchants to create web-based storefronts to manage payments and logistics. Together DHL and Link Commerce look to extend the platform to more emerging markets around the world.

Ola Electric Acquires Etergo. The electric vehicle spinoff of the Indian ride hail giant Ola has purchased Dutch electric scooter startup Etergo for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is intended to bolster Ola Electric’s design and engineering capability in preparation for the launch of its own electric two wheeler in India next year. 

Company Building 🛠️

Simple Tips on Sales. “6. Being valuable and useful is all you ever need to do to sell things. Help people out. Send interesting posts. Write birthday cards. Record videos sharing your ideas for growing their business. Introduce people who would benefit from knowing each other then get out of the way, expecting nothing in return. Do this consistently and authentically and people will find ways to give you money. I promise.”

Where Are Most Unicorns HQ’d?. Since February, I’ve heard of founders or teams looking for a new home that’s not SF or NYC. The “Heartland” offers great opportunities and perhaps this graph will see places like Indiana, Tennessee, or Michigan balance the dominance California has.

Startup HR: What’s Important?. “Many founders ask me “when is the right time to hire a HR person?”. My recommendation is around 20-30 employees or after a Series A round.”

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Full Stack Engineer at Backbone in New York, NY.

Sales Operations at Stord in Atlanta, GA.

AV Field Operations at Gatik in Palo Alto, CA.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.