SoftBank, owner of a portfolio including logistics unicorns ShipBob and Flock Freight, led the freight management service’s latest round at a $1.3bn valuation.

Internet and telecommunications firm SoftBank’s Latin America Fund led a $200m series D round for US-based freight automation technology provider Loadsmart yesterday having also backed similar companies in recent months. Rail transportation and property group CSX Corporation also took part in the round, alongside funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and Janus Henderson Group. It valued Loadsmart at $1.3bn. Founded in 2014, Loadsmart has built an artificial intelligence and big data-equipped freight forwarding software platform which helps shippers, brokers and carriers quote, book and efficiently transport goods with minimal environmental impact. The company now counts in excess of 680,000 lorries in its carrier network, and it claimed its software tool has helped process hundreds of millions of dollars in freight procurement and scheduled some 600,000 dock bookings in the past month alone. Carlos Medeiros, investment partner at SoftBank Latin America Fund, said: “As a pioneer in digital freight technology, Loadsmart has built a best-in-class, scalable platform that offers multimodal digital services to customers across the supply chain. “We are thrilled to lead this round of investment and work with [co-founders and co-CEOs] Felipe [Capella], Ricardo [Salgado] and their talented team as they continue to digitise the supply chain to move the logistics industry into the future.” Kevin Boone, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at CSX, added: “CSX is continually developing innovative solutions for further reducing emissions by converting freight from highway to rail. “As an environmental leader in an industry that plays an important strategic role in the low-carbon economy, CSX is excited for the opportunity to invest in a company like Loadsmart that is creating a more sustainable supply chain by eliminating empty miles and offering multimodal solutions to shippers that generate substantial value for customers.” Loadsmart had raised a total of more than $143m as of a $90m series C round in late 2020 that included logistics groups TFI International and AP Møller – Mærsk (Maersk). The latter’s Maersk Growth vehicle had co-led the company’s $21.6m series A round in 2018 and took part in a $19m round alongside seaport operator Ports America the year after. Supply chain and logistics technology developers have grown substantially since the covid-19 pandemic began, as consumers move to on-demand delivery services for daily items such as groceries and food. They secured a total of $24.3bn in venture capital funding in the first nine months of 2021, according to PitchBook data, a 58% increase from 2020. E-commerce logistics service ShipBob was valued…

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Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.