Dynamo Dispatch (06/15/20)

Issue 110 | Stord, Sennder, Navmatic

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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Weekly Commentary 💭

Is there someone you would like to listen to on the Future of Supply Chain podcast? We’re always looking for suggestions and introductions to industry executives, industry-relevant investors, and startup founders. Send them to santosh at dynamo dot vc or tweet it to @ThisIsDynamo with #FoSCGuestRequest.

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

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Supply Chain 📦

Robotic Software Takes Control of the Warehouse. Dovetailing the work of warehouse execution systems (WES), robot operating systems are an emerging technology expected to become increasingly critical for operational success at fulfillment and distribution centers. Featured in the Logistics Management article is A.K. Schultz CEO of SVT Robotics, a Dynamo portfolio company. “Instead of enterprise systems communicating with unique or proprietary systems, you can adopt any robotics or automation technology that is integrated on the platform. And, it decouples issues around upgrades and security,” Schultz observes. Related: the International Federation of Robotics’ report on World Robotics R&D Programs

US Retail Sales to Drop 10.5 % in 2020—with One Bright Spot. The latest forecast from eMarketer paints a grim picture for U.S. retail sales, anticipating a 10.5% overall drop (worse than the 8.2% decline in 2009). However, e-commerce is still expected to grow 18.0% this year with food and beverage and health and beauty representing the fastest-growing categories. Reflecting the struggles facing physical retailers, Zara Owner to Close 1,200 Stores as It Outlines Post-Coronavirus Future

Intermodal the Key to Boosting Efficiency and Reliability and Going Greener. As a mode of transport requiring minimal human contact, rail has seen a short-term uptick in the wake of COVID-19. Given the demonstrated benefits in speed, cost-efficiency, and environmental impact, Zoe McLernon, policy manager at the UK’s Freight Transport Association, makes the case for continued government support of intermodal initiatives. Also in rail: Should We Fear Mega-Railroad Mergers?

🌟Don’t Write Off 'Digital Freight Forwarders'. Rather than dismiss new tech startups, Freightos CMO Eytan Buchman encourages legacy freight forwarders to give credit to the new companies and seek to learn from their innovative practices. By becoming more adaptive, data-driven, and customer-centric; incumbent players should be well-positioned to mimic, partner with, or even acquire the new wave of digitally native companies. On the topic of digital innovation, Haven and American Shipper breakdown The Benefits of Embracing a Virtual Supply Chain

📊Next-Generation Wireless in Logistics. A digital revolution is overtaking the logistics industry as IoT devices powered by the latest generation of wireless technology offer critical insight and predictability into asset-heavy businesses. From radio frequency identification (RFID) to low-power global area networks (LPGANs), DHL breaks down the promise and benefits of a fully connected future for logistics operators across industries and geographies. 

Can Rivals Take Advantage of Amazon’s Pandemic Woes? For online retailers competing against the eCommerce giant, the surge in demand during coronavirus has felt like a “pick-your-poison” moment. At Thrive Market, an online organic grocer, the spike in orders has led to delivery times as long as two weeks and as much as 30% of items being out-of-stock. Also in Amazon news, Survey Finds a Drop in Customer Satisfaction Even as Sales Soar and UPS’s New CEO Walks Into an Amazon Squeeze Magnified by Pandemic

How Retailers Have Responded to COVID-19. A new study by WMG, Blue Yonder, and the University of Warwick finds 58% of retailers said a high degree of manual inventory intervention was required to respond to the COVID-related fluctuations. Per Wayne Snyder, Vice President Retail Strategy, EMEA at Blue Yonder: “Early indications in Asia show that customers have been most supportive of those retailers they deemed to have responded best to the crisis and we’d expect that pattern to follow across Europe and the US. A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility, and automation.” Meanwhile, Warehouse Space Crunch Will Tighten as 'Lean' Supply Chains Fatten Up

Japan Wants Manufacturing Back from China, but Breaking Up Supply Chains Is Hard to Do. Spurred by factory shutdowns in China, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set aside $2B to assist Japanese companies that shift their production back home. While some businesses like chipmaker Rohm Co have said that full automation might allow them to relocate their assembly lines to Japan, others in automotive and electronics manufacturing see a move as unlikely given China’s cheap labor market and extensive parts suppliers. Relatedly A Quiet Panic Is Growing in U.S. Boardrooms Over Huawei Ban as a new defense law could implicate American companies for use of Huawei technology anywhere in their global supply chain.

Mobility 🚗

In Japan and France, Riding Transit Looks Surprisingly Safe. Between May 9 and June 3, France identified 150 new coronavirus ‘clusters’ - defined as three or more COVID-19 cases linked by contact. None, however, were traced to public transit. Similar to data emerging from Japan, this suggests that wearing masks and reducing conversations have lowered vulnerabilities for coronavirus to spread among riders in both countries. That could hopefully spell good news for the US where New Yorkers Gradually Return to Mass Transit as City Reopens.

The Pandemic Response Slashed Traffic; What Did It Teach Us About Transportation Planning?COVID-19 has given transportation planners an unprecedented opportunity to observe traffic patterns during a system-wide reduction and compare computer models against actual shifts in travel. Looking not just at cars but also paths for bikes and pedestrians, cities in Wisconsin are seizing the opportunity to trial urban re-designs to test the flexibility of multi-modal transit. Also under reassessment: How the Transit Industry Is Not Just Rebounding, but Reshaping.

🌟Inside A Wall Street Tycoon’s Plan To Get Americans Off The Highway — And On His Trains. Private equity billionaire Wes Edens is betting $100M of his own money that the US can replicate the success of the Paris-to-London Eurostar with its own high-speed trains from Orlando to Miami and from Las Vegas to Southern California. Funded by billions of dollars of tax-exempt bonds and investor cash, Edens remains bullish despite coronavirus that his trains can carry almost 20M passengers and generate an operating profit of almost $1B a year by 2026.

The ACLU is Suing Los Angeles Over Its Controversial Scooter Tracking System. In a lawsuit filed last Monday against the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the American Civil Liberties Union has alleged that the city’s Mobility Data Specification program (MDS) is unconstitutional. Echoing the sentiment of scooter companies that have been loath to share location data with policymakers, the ACLU suit claims that the city’s program for tracking electric scooters violates the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution which prevents unlawful search and seizure. ICYMI on the topic of tracking, a new Chinese surveillance system SenseTime Makes Sure You Park Your Shared Bike Properly. Also in micromobility: Do Bike Lanes Actually Make Cyclists Safer?

China’s Didi Chuxing Says Ride-Hailing Orders Are Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels. Ride-hailing giant Didi has announced that its Chinese order numbers have returned to their pre-COVID heights. Operating across Japan, Australia, and six Latin American countries, Didi ridership in overseas markets, however, is said to still be recovering from mid-March lows. 

AVs Really Aren’t Perfect. Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that only 34 percent of crashes would have been avoided were a driverless car involved. Having reviewed more than 5,000 crashes reported by police from the National Motor Vehicle Causation Survey, the study finds that autonomous vehicles “need not only to obey traffic laws, but also to adapt to road conditions and implement driving strategies that account for uncertainty about what other road users will do.” In other AV news: How Many Commercial Drone Operators Insure Their Flights?

Volkswagen Delays Key Electric Car Launch. Software glitches in the ID.3 have pushed back the release of VW’s flagship electric car to September. The ID.3’s internet connection will allow the car to wirelessly update without needing to visit a dealership; however, connectivity issues between the car and cloud-based applications are requiring extra time to fine-tune amidst the pandemic. Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra Predicts Mass Electrification Will Take Decades.

Airlines Must Become the Disruptors to Survive a Post-COVID Era. In a new white paper, Stan Wraight, President and CEO of Strategic Aviation Solutions International, argues airlines must embrace air cargo in order to thrive after the pandemic. “Those airlines and airports that do start taking cargo as a core activity will benefit; those who don’t will continue to chase volume, not value, in air logistics products,” he writes. For a visual reference of soaring debt and record losses see The Airline Crisis in Four Charts. Also, for those planning to fly in the coming weeks, Get Ready to Fill Out a Preflight Health Checklist.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

💥STORD Acquires Cove Logistics. Dynamo portfolio company STORD has announced this week the acquisition of transportation provider Cove Logistics. Adding freight capabilities to its warehouse management services, STORD is able to vertically integrate down the value chain, reducing costs while streamlining operations for its customers.

💥German Freight Tech Start-Up Sennder Merges with France's Everoad. Dynamo-backed Sennder remains on track to become Europe’s first $1B logistics tech firm. Merging with the smaller Everoad, the Berlin-based freight forwarder expands its footprint across Europe where it competes with Kuehne + Nagel and Uber Freight for full-truck consignments. 

YC-backed Tajir Raises $1.8M. The Pakistani startup provides a B2B marketplace with 24 hour deliveries to help informal retailers save money on inventory and boost sales. Investors in the round included Fatima Gobi Ventures, Pioneer Fund, Karavan Partners, VentureSouq and Golden Gate Ventures. 

Veros Systems Raises $2.2M Series C Led by Shell Ventures. The Texas-based industrial AI startup has developed a platform for continuously monitoring rotating equipment health. The company plans to use the latest investment for further product development.

Navmatic Raises $4M Led by Lear Innovation Ventures. Emerging from stealth, San Jose-based Navmatic offers precise positioning services for centimeter-level location accuracy in micromobility and robotics. Also participating in the round were UpWest, Next Gear Ventures, and several private investors.

WiBotic Raises $6.14M Series A. Founded 5 years ago at the University of Washington, WiBotic has developed charging stations to wirelessly beam power to autonomous robots, optimizing uptime. With the investment, WiBotic plans to advance its technology and grow its sales team. 

Ambler Raises €6M Series A Led by Bpifrance. The ‘Uber for ambulance network,’ this French startup connects health care prescribers to ambulance companies. The fresh capital will help accelerate Ambler’s expansion across France with the goal of nationwide coverage by 2021.

Journera Raises $11.6M Series B Led by Andreessen Horowitz and B Capital. Based in Chicago, Journera has developed patented technology for securely matching traveler records across airlines, hotels, and restaurants. With its latest investment, the company plans to focus on the commercialization of the platform across the travel industry.

Ontruck Raises €17M Round Led by Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. The Spanish startup has built a digital freight platform that uses AI to optimize journeys and reduce wasted miles. With coronavirus inhibiting its expansion to a new German office, Ontruck plans to use the fresh capital to invest further in its own technology.

Alkemics Raises €21M Series C Led by Highland Europe. The Paris-based startup offers a collaborative platform for suppliers and retailers to launch consumer goods products. The funding will support further digitization of supplier-retailer relations and support the company’s expansion throughout Europe.

Lilium Raises Additional $35M from Baillie Gifford. Founded in Munich in 2015, Lilium is building electric vertical and take-off and landing aircraft. The latest injection pushes the company’s valuation into unicorn territory as it strives to bring flying taxis to the skies by 2025. 

Descartes Acquires Online Forwarding Solutions Provider Kontainers. In a $12M deal, the Canadian shipping software company Descartes picks up the UK-based Kontainers. “When added to the Global Logistics Network, we’ll also have the ability to offer a pre-integrated solution that combines Kontainers digital freight execution with Descartes’ rate management and forwarder enterprise systems,” said Kontainers CEO Graham Parker, who will stay on as vice president of sales/digital freight solutions at Descartes. 

Just Eat Takeaway Gobbles Up Grubhub in $7.3B Deal. In an all-share deal, the European food delivery giant Just Eat Takeaway picks up Grubhub in place of previous suitor Uber Eats. Straddling the Atlantic, the combined operation is expected to have over 70M active customers globally. 

Google Exec Jumps To Lead Lidar Startup And Hires Competitors. Leaving Google’s automotive services division in April, Shauna McIntyre has signed on as the new CEO at North Carolina-based Sense Photonics. Already leading the startup’s Series B fundraise, McIntyre looks to convince both investors and LiDAR-skeptics like Elon Musk that her new company’s high-featured Flash LiDAR offers the best vision for autonomous acceptance.

Company Building 🛠️

A Stark New Reality for American CEOs. “The virus and renewed focus on racism have greatly accelerated the pace of the bottom-up revolution. The next wave of great leaders will adapt their styles and organizations to harness the passion — the weaker ones will be paralyzed and pummeled by it.”

Hosting Virtual Events. We’re seeing an increase in virtual events and have already been part of our fair share of webinars, virtual panels, and Zoom conferences. The details matter and YC does a great job of distilling Dos/Don’ts.

Naval on Integrity Over Niceness. “Seek integrity over niceness. Integrity means living up to an internal moral code of ethics. It’s being reliable and honest. Niceness often is just politeness or someone sending off signals that they have integrity when the stakes are low. Integrity gets tested when the stakes are high.”

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Product Manager at Vector in London, UK.

Web Developer at Plus One Robotics in San Antonio, TX.

Account Manager at sennder in Berlin, Germany.

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.