Supply chain data provider project44 plans to accelerate its growth in providing shipment visibility solutions thanks to $100 million in new financial backing announced today, the firm said.
The “series D” round was led by venture capital firm Insight Partners, along with participation from 8VC, Emergence Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Sozo Ventures, and Underscore VC. The backing brings Chicago-based project44 to a total of $241 million raised to date.
According to the company’s backers, project44 has been providing visibility solutions to organizations around the world that are looking to to strengthen their supply chains and better safeguard and track shipments amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are excited to expand our relationship with project44 and become its largest investor,” said Ross Devor, a managing director at Insight Partners, who will also take a seat on the project44 board. “Optimizing supply chains emerged as a top priority for companies in 2020, with major implications for global businesses, economies, and society at large. Project44 stood out to us as a strong, high-growth partner back when we first invested in 2018, due to their focus on transforming shipping and logistics by providing the connective data stream across the industry. Now we’ve watched them deliver on this, and when we have a winner, we double down.”
The large fundraising round arrives as project44 has forged a series of recent partnerships with other logistics technology platforms. Over the past year, the company has joined a “Digital LTL Council” designed to support more efficient operations in the less-than-truckload (LTL) sector, agreed to provide data to artificial intelligence (AI)-powered planning and operations platform vendor o9 Solutions, and linked its real-time data network with transportation management system (TMS) vendor BluJay Solutions.
In its most recent linkup, project44 in September announced it would join logistics tech firms ClearMetal and Shippeo in expanding its relationship with German enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendor SAP AG’s “Logistics Business Network.” That platform is meant to help mitigate supply chain challenges associated with the pandemic, providing customers with end-to-end visibility, increased efficiency, and improved collaboration through a unified partner network.
That tight integration is necessary in an industry that historically has never seen the customer experience as a main focus of transportation operations, but simply focused on moving goods from Point A to Point B, according to a recent briefing with Vernon O’Donnell, project44’s chief product officer. But the “Amazonification” of today’s “delivery economy” has forced a change in that approach and demanded a more technology-centric supply chain, he said.
Speaking of that partnership, he said that SAP excels at measuring inventory at rest, while project44 is expert at tracking inventory in transit. Together, the partners can empower the Logistics Business Network to act as a “network of networks” and reduce delay times at warehouses and DCs thanks to high-fidelity visibility data that provides smarter results for estimated time of arrival (ETA) statistics, O’Donnell said.
One of the primary applications of that improved capability is the emergence of Covid-19 vaccines, which present a “massive, massive challenge” to global supply chains, according to Helen Arnold, from SAP’s department of Strategic Initiatives – Corporate Strategy, Office of the CEO. “This is a challenge from manufacturing to distribution, administration, and Covid monitoring. And at the core of that process is the Logistics Business Network, which can get a network up and running not in months but in days,” she said.
As companies face hurdles such as border closures, driver shortages, and tight trucking capacity, they need improved planning capabilities to find alternative routes, SAP says. The company’s wide logistics network can support that effort by enabling the quick onboarding of new hubs and DCs in regions such as Germany, where vaccine shipments are handed off between multiple organizations including the military, states, and cities, Arnold said.