Dynamo Dispatch (09/23/19)

Issue 77 | SVT Robotics, Idelic, klarx

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

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🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

Hello from (nearly) the entire Dynamo family as we have our Portfolio Day in NYC. We’re excited to have an awesome roster of guests. If you’re around in NYC in the evening, join us at Flatiron Hall around 6:30 PM for a beverage!

Speaking of NYC, check out Episode 29 of the Future of Supply Chain where I talk about white-glove logistics with Adam Fields of New York-based, Arta.  

We Are Dynamo,
Santosh 💥

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

Amazon Orders 100,000 Electric Vans from Rivian. The vehicles will begin rolling out in 2021 with an expected 10,000 by 2022 and a ramp to 100,000 by 2030. It’s unclear if this will be for Amazon’s captive fleet only or also part of the Flex program. The effort is part of Amazon’s plans to be carbon neutral by 2040 and meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early. Additionally, In Germany, Amazon is Hiring Last Mile Drivers.

DHL Cubicycles Coming to NYC. A modified version of the cargo bike will be rolled out in NYC to help navigate the density of the concrete jungle. In Europe, most couriers can navigate 50km/day carrying up to 125kg of shipments.

p44 Unveils Tendering Technology. The Advanced Visibility Platform now has truckload tendering functionality that will allow users to secure quotes without having to leave their TMS or ERP system. Also in Chicagoland, FourKites Unveils Integrated Scheduling Tool.

🌟Wing Announces Expanded Operations in Virginia. The expansion is in partnership with Walgreens and FedEx. Consumers can order medicines, snacks, and other small goods from their app and have them delivered by UAVs. Also, Pizza Hut Working on Delivery to Improve Customer Experience and Deliv Hiring Full Time Delivery Drivers.

📊Robot Investments Reach Record $16.5B. Robot shipments are expected to jump 39% from 2018 to 2022 from a record annual sales level of $16.5B ($5.4B invested in China alone) last year, according to the World Robotics report.

CH Robinson’s $1B Technology Investment Plan. AT CSCMP, Bob Biesterfeld, announced the intention to double investment in technology over the next 5 years to respond to customer needs with an aggressive hiring plan for data scientists, software engineers, designers, and more. Interesting to note Biesterfeld’s attitude related to startups, “We don’t frankly think that they bring anything to market that we don’t have already in our tech, either what’s implemented or what’s in our tech road map,” he said. “And we believe that our service extends so far beyond where they are focused or where they are, it wouldn’t be additive to us.” In the cold chain world, Lineage Further Expands into Europe with Acquisition of Two Facilities.

FedEx Grounding Older Jets. As the company deals with softening macro environment and reduce demand for air freight due in the wake of its decision to “fire Amazon,” it has decided to retire 20 older MD-10-10 freighters, remove 10 A310 aircraft, and ground additional planes. In Dubai, Emirates SkyCargo Partners with Seafood Souq.

Mobility 🚗

🌟Chinese Buyers Flock to Foreign BrandsGerman and Japanese makes are preferred as buyers pick trusted brands in first downturn since the 1990s.

How Harman Got Smart on Cybersecurity. On the back of a $70M acqusition to beef up its cybersecurity prowess, Harman has built software to combat car-jacking by overhauling manufacturing and scrutinizing third-party modules. Also, FCA to Test V2I Technology with 700-car Fleet.

The Fight Over Fuel Economy. 23 states sue Trump Administration just two days after Trump rejected CA’s ability to set its own emissions policies. The antitrust investigation launched earlier this month is suspected to be in connect with the Administration’s discontent with CA’s progressive approach to climate change. Speaking of regulators, DoT Awards MI, OH, and VA Initial AV Grants.

Daimler All-in on EVs. Daimler announced that it will cease internal combustion engine development as part of its efforts to embrace electric vehicles. Daimler is paving the way for the eventual rollout of an EV truck to compete with Tesla as we move in the 2020s. Related,  The Battle to Power Electric Cars in Europe.

MTA Unveils $51.5B Plan to Overhaul City Transit System. The largest investment in the authority’s history would see $37B dedicated to signal modernization along six subway lines, 1,900 new subway cars, making 70 stations ADA-accessible, replacing tracks, and revamping 175 stations. On the TNC front, Uber Sues NYC Over Cruising Empty Cap.

Meet the Oslo from Karmic Bikes. The hybrid bike-scooter could be the moment from which we see accelerated innovation in micromobility. In Atlanta, Tortoise Pilots Autonomous Scooter Repositioning and in Paris, Transport Authorities Evaluating €500 Subsidy for eBikes.

What GM and UAW Want Amid On-going Strikes. The main issue is healthcare as UAW members only pay for 3% of their healthcare expenses (vs 28% by the average US worker). Wages are also a big issue with demands for wage hikes and substantial wage progression for new hires. Speaking of GM, A Profile of Mary Barra and separately, Larry Ellison on Uber, Tesla, and AVs.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

SVT Robotics Raises Pre-seed Round. Dynamo portfolio company, SVT Robotics announces their fund raise and intent to ramp market adopt of middleware software that helps accelerate robot deployments.

TuSimple Raises an Additional $120M in Strategic Round. The new funds are part of an extended Series D round that brought in $215 million and included previously announced investments from UPS, Beijing-based CDH Investments and Mando Corp (South Korean auto parts supplier). Chinese tech firm Sina Corp, parent of social media platform operator Weibo, led the round.

Wunder Mobility raises $60M led by Blumberg Capital. the Germany-based carpooling platform will expand to the US with the fresh capital.

Kitchen United Closes $40M Series B. The investment will help the provider of ghost kitchens continue to grow and open its first locations in New York City. RXR Reality and GV co-led, and were joined by Fidelity Investments Canada, DivcoWest, and G Squared.

Built Robotics Raises $33M. Built makes guidance systems for transforming construction equipment into autonomous robots. The Series B funding was from Next47, Founders Fund, and NEA.

Takeoff Technologies Valued at $500M with $25M RaiseForrestal Capital led the round. Funds will be used to expand its customer base across North America, Europe and Australia, and work on developing AMRs (“open shuttles”).

Darkstore Raises $21M Led by EQT. Darkstore works by exploiting excess capacity in storage facilities, malls and bodegas and enables them to be fulfillment centers with just a smartphone. 

Farmwise Clinches $14.5M Series A. Calibrate Ventures led the round in the farm automation company.

Cake Raises $14M for Electric Bikes. Creandum led the round.

klarx Closes €12.5M from B&C Innovation. Klarx operations and construction equipment rental platform.

Idelic $8M Led by Origin Ventures. Idelic will use this investment to grow its engineering and sales teams to meet increasing demand. The investment also paves the way for the release of a mobile application focused on driver engagement and retention.

Company Building 🛠️

Raising Capital in Emerging Cities. Alex Iskold provides a complete guide to raising seed capital if you’re building a business “off the coasts.”

Platforms vs Verticas and the Great Unbundling. “In all but a few circumstances, the broad horizontal verticals eventually break. They become a victim of their own success. As the platforms grow, their submarkets grow too; their product gets pulled in a million different directions. Users get annoyed with an experience and business that caters to the lowest common denominator. And suddenly, what was previously too small a market to care about is a very interesting place for a standalone newco. Like clockwork, a new wave of innovation begins to swell, picking off the compelling verticals the new horizontal players cannot satisfy. If you know which platforms are teetering on this precipice, you’ll know where to look for both opportunity and innovation.”

Gmail Creator on How to Become a Great Engineer and Happiness. I especially like the answer to “Is College Useful?” In an era where we trash higher ed institutions because of their cost (and rightly so!) we lose sight of how much human development (forget academics) occurs in the “safer environment” of campus. That said, it shouldn’t cost $120K+ and a lifetime of debt.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

VP Sales at Verusen in Atlanta, GA.
Logistics Coordinator at Starsky Robotics in Dallas, TX.
Frontend Engineer at Mobikit in Columbus, OH.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting or helpful, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.