As Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos jockey for the designation of world’s wealthiest man, the Seattle billionaires are united behind at least one local venture. They’re both investors in a trucking logistics startup that competes with Uber.
Convoy, a two-year-old Seattle company, makes software that matches nearby and available truckers to a job. Convoy said it raised a new round of funding from Mr Gates’ Cascade Investment and other backers.
Mr Gates joins Mr Bezos from Amazon, who invested earlier.
The latest financing totals $62m (€53.2m). The investment won’t break the bank for Mr Gates or Mr Bezos, whose fortunes are within $3bn of each other. But Convoy has become a hot start-up investment among fellow billionaires. Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and KKR chief Henry Kravis are also shareholders. Chairman Barry Diller participated in the new round with Mr Gates.
Convoy was initially pitched as an “Uber for trucking” and has raised $80m in total since starting in 2015.
This year, Uber rolled out its own version of on-demand trucking. Uber Freight connects truck drivers with long-haul assignments.
There are other providers, such as Trucker Path, but Uber’s financial heft — having raised over $15bn since its inception — makes it a force.
That’s despite distractions posed by a lawsuit claiming a former Uber executive, who was working on autonomous trucking technology, conspired with the company to steal trade secrets from Alphabet’s Waymo. Uber denies wrongdoing.
Convoy chief executive Dan Lewis said he hopes to take advantage of Uber’s distractions. “It isn’t clear what’s going to happen with Uber. The leadership of the company, in general, is gone,” he said.
Uber said its two-month-old freight service has been greeted by enthusiasm. “We’ve learned an incredible amount already and are continuing to recruit the top minds in the industry as we ramp up our investment in this technology,” said a spokeswoman.
Mr Lewis said Convoy is fulfilling thousands of shipments and generating millions in sales a week.
Consumer giants Unilever and Anheuser-Busch InBev have signed on as customers. Convoy initially required pickups to originate in the Pacific north-west and has since expanded to several other regions. It plans to use the new funds to go further.
The threat of automation is looming over the trucking industry, with predictions that self-driving 18-wheelers will replace the large workforce in the future.
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