Two-year-old logistics software startup firm ClearMetal Inc., which wants to apply predictive intelligence tools to container shipping firms such as CMA CGM and Maersk Line, has landed $3 million in seed financing from a group of investors featuring Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google Inc. parent company Alphabet Inc.
The investment comes from three venture capital firms, including New Enterprise Associates Inc. (NEA), SkyView Fund, and Innovation Endeavors, an investment firm funded solely by Alphabet's Schmidt.
"It's the age-old issue that continues to plague the shipping industry: carriers struggle to get the right asset to the right place at the right time," NEA partner Chetan Puttagunta said in a statement. "The industry now has the needed IT and data infrastructure in place—opening the doors for ClearMetal to apply an innovative, data-driven approach to address the global trade problem."
Unveiled Wednesday, the software platform allows ship lines to predict equipment, trade, vessel, and shipper needs with unprecedented accuracy, ClearMetal claims. Launched in 2014 by a group of Stanford University researchers, San Francisco-based ClearMetal has no public client list, but claims that two of the top 10 carriers are already using the platform and seeing results, a company spokesman said.
Other supply chain software providers sell similar tools, but ClearMetal's technique can predict trends farther into the future, the company claims. By leveraging massive computing power that was unavailable just a decade ago, ClearMetal uses artificial intelligence to govern a machine-learning algorithm that can analyze millions of data points and container contingencies.
Without this processing power, standard business intelligence platforms cannot sort out the "nearly unmanageable complexity" of constant changes in weather, port congestion, customer demand, and booking changes that determine the flow of some 20 million cargo containers in constant motion around the world's oceans, ClearMetal founder and CEO Adam Compain said.
Compain's solution involves predicting where vessels will be before they even arrive. "ClearMetal forecasts the future with certainty, allowing carriers to accurately and effectively allocate, reposition, and utilize their assets," he stated in a release on Wednesday.