Flexport Secures $1 Billion in Funding Led by SoftBank Vision Fund: 3 Big Ways We’re Moving Forward
At Flexport, we share a vision to unite the planet in a seamless web of commerce, unhindered by physical borders, boundaries or political agendas. More simply put, we believe that everybody should be empowered to do what makes us uniquely human: to trade.
Today, we’re excited to share how we’re accelerating and further realizing that vision with a $1 billion investment led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, with significant participation from existing investors Founders Fund, DST Global, Cherubic Ventures, Susa Ventures and SF Express. These are partners who, like us, believe in a better, more interconnected world. Their support will propel us into that future as we use technology to make global trade easier for everyone.
In a Forbes feature published today, we’ve offered some perspectives on what this funding broadly means to us and to our customers – and how we will use the capital to help shape the necessary digital transformation of the $2 trillion global freight forwarding sector, as well as the even larger $7 trillion global logistics industry.
Personally, partnering with SoftBank carries even more significance. Like many, I’m inspired by the dedication and vision of the organization’s Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, and his commitment to an ambitious vision for using technology to advance human happiness. At Flexport, one of our core values is to “play the long game.” In this respect, we are in awe of the long-term thinking of SoftBank, which champions both a 30-year vision and 300-year growth strategy.
In 2018, Flexport doubled top-line revenue to nearly $500M, increased headcount to nearly 1,000 employees, expanded our geographic footprint 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.
Today, we’re more committed than ever to creating incredible experiences for our almost 10,000 clients and suppliers across almost 110 countries.
Our company has reached this remarkable moment remarkably quickly. So, in the spirit of the transparency and candor that’s brought us here, I’d like to take a short pause. Not to reflect on where we’ve been, but to give a glimpse into what’s just beginning. In brief, here are our three cornerstones as we define the new way forward for Flexport and the freight forwarding industry.
1. We’re Building Something No One’s Built Before
The human brain has a strong unconscious bias against tackling really difficult problems. It’s probably one of the big reasons no one before us has succeeded in modernizing our centuries-old industry; it’s a massive, hairy, complex system that’s held back by the inexorable power of inertia. As we have been since Day 1, Flexport is dedicated to disrupting this idleness and seeking to make global trade easier and more accessible for everyone. And the way we’re doing it is by building what we call the Operating System for Global Trade.
More than just technology, the Operating System for Global Trade is a strategic operating model for global freight forwarding that combines technology and analytics, logistics infrastructure, and hands-on supply chain expertise. It’s all facilitated and delivered via our highly-available and secure cloud software platform. By bringing together everyone – importers, exporters, ocean carriers, airlines, warehouses, trucking companies, and customs brokerages – on one platform to structure all the data required to conduct global trade, Flexport and the OS for Global Trade give businesses what they’ve never had before with their freight forwarders: deep visibility and control from origin to destination, fast and reliable transit times, and low and predictable supply chain costs.
2. We’re Doubling Down on Our Investment In People
We must and will continue to invest in industry expertise that will help our clients navigate an increasingly complex global trade environment. Global trade is not easy. And in today’s world, half-century-old trade regimes can be seemingly upended at the speed of a tweet. That requires deep expertise across many regulatory environments around the entire world, coupled with a growth mindset that allows us to learn and adapt faster than any other global freight company.
For us to succeed we must hire, nurture, and empower a wide range of professionals with varied backgrounds, specializations and perspectives. After all, global trade is the most diverse industry in the world – every single transaction requires dozens of people with different cultural backgrounds, industries, and skill sets to set their differences aside to collaborate and get things done.
To support our mission, we are creating an inclusive culture that provides equal opportunities for all people to do the most meaningful work of their lives. If you’d like to help us on this mission, please visit our careers page. We’re seeking smart, talented, kind people to join us in all locations – including Chicago, where we’ve just announced our first technology and engineering presence aside from our San Francisco headquarters. Software engineers. Data scientists. Designers. Operations specialists. Logistics experts. Marketing and sales leaders. Finance gurus. All-around geniuses. We need you!
3. We’re Helping Communities In Need Through Flexport.org
With our new investment, we must continue to do the right thing for our customers, our employees, our vendors, our investors, our regulators, and the communities in which we operate. I believe firmly in the value that our platform brings to the world every day by enabling economic growth and empowering entrepreneurs. But, perhaps nothing makes that impact more tangible than Flexport.org’s ongoing efforts to support humanitarian relief, economic development, and environmental sustainability through heavily subsidized nonprofit logistics services and unique programs to offset the carbon emissions released through shipping.
By leveraging our logistics network to support the nonprofits that work tirelessly on some of the world’s most intractable problems, we’re pioneering a new form of corporate philanthropy. And, even more special, we are getting incredible participation from our vast customer base as we facilitate product donations and deliveries from companies to the causes where they are needed most.
Our journey together is just beginning.
I see this investment in our growth as a terrific validation of our vision for a world made more connected and more prosperous by trade. I want to extend my deepest thanks to the entire Flexport team for the herculean effort to get us to this important milestone.
And, on behalf of everyone at Flexport, I need to express our deepest appreciation to our clients, who have entrusted us to help them optimize their supply chains and partnered with us to grow their businesses. As ever, we are totally committed to you and obsessed with enabling your success.
Here’s to what’s next. We’re just getting started.