Dynamo Dispatch (11/11/19)

Issue 84 | Ghost, Wrench, Ursa

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 💭

We’re in Chicago bracing the record cold temps for FreightWaves LIVE. If you’re around, reach out - always looking to make new friends.

Also, if you know someone graduating in December and looking to learn more about startups and venture capital, send them our way! We’re looking for our next Venture Fellow.

Have a great week!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

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

Supply Chain 📦

Blackstone Focuses on Warehousing Amid eCommerce Boom. Retailers are trading higher warehouse rents closer to urban centers for shorter transit times and lower shipping costs. Blackstone and Prologis are on track to control about 10% of the U.S. logistics real estate market. The real estate is more than double what it cost 10 years prior, but higher industrial rents are still a bargain compared to what merchants would pay for brick and mortar retail space. Related, USPS Will Pilot NVIDIA AI and Edge Compute to Improve Parcel Data Processing, Amazon to Invest $40M in New Robotics Hub.

📊 Vision Technologies, Manufacturing, and Logistics. Our friends at LDV Capital dive into vision technologies and how they’ve aided burgeoning drone-based and RaaS business models. The report breaks down key drivers including widespread consumer data, revolutionary materials, robotics improvements, and digital twins.

LA Ports Automate, Truck Drivers Cheer On. At the ports of LA and Long Beach, which handle a third of the nation’s imported goods, warehouse workers are being displaced while self-guided robots improve the lives of truck drivers. “I’m for automation,” Diaz [trucker] says. “One hundred percent. One hundred percent.” Such efforts help drivers reduce detention times and spend more of their time driving and generating revenue. Related to detention, Driver Detention Time Creeps Upward. Related to maritime, CargoSphere Develops Standard Ocean Freight API.

🌟Trucking Operational Costs Up 7.7% in 2018. ATRI data shows a surge in costs (highest since 2010) driven by an increase in fuel costs, insurance premiums, and tolls. Speaking of trucking, 44% of Fleets Use In-Cab Cameras and we discuss insurance and prevention using cameras with Chad Eichelberger of Reliance Partners on this week’s episode of The Future of Supply Chain.

📊 54% of Shoppers Would Pay Local Retailers for Same-Day Delivery. Amazon is starting to lose its grip over the last mile. Along with the other results from this survey of 1,000 consumers, data shows that brick-and-mortar retailers can still draw customers away from Amazon if they can offer well-executed same-day delivery. For further input see, Walmart Appears to Be Gaining Ground Against Amazon, Amazon and the Last-Mile Delivery Wars, and Costco and Instacart Test Free One-Hour Prescription Delivery as Amazon Eyes the Space.

Maersk Tests Battery Power System in Carbon Neutrality Effort. Maersk is trialing a 600 kWh battery on one of its 249m-longships in Singapore. To clarify, this battery is not at all related to the propulsion of the ship. The battery will power the onboard electrical systems and maintain the vessel’s auxiliary generators at a more optimal load. By avoiding the need to run generators, overall fuel consumption can be reduced.

Uber Freight Continues to Grow Network, Losses Widen. Uber Freight now has 50,000 carriers on its platform, as it continues to capture the market and squeeze the competition. The unit notched negative EBITDA of $81M in Q3, but net revenue was only marginally below the $223M booked through the platform, suggesting most of the margins are still going to the truckers. 

Mobility 🚗

VW Starts Pre-Production at All-Electric Vehicle Factory in China. VW’s new factory operated in partnership with SAIC will have an output of 300K vehicles when ramped (production set to begin Q4 2020). The exigence is China’s aggressive zero-emissions mandate, which comes into effect next year. The mandate will require a greater percentage of sales to come from EVs every year. Also, Recycling Li-Ion Batteries from EVs.

📊 SAE Autonomous Vehicle Experience Survey. SAE polled nearly 1,400 participants at four SAE Demo Days. Responses noted—82% were initially enthusiastic for self-driving cars, with nearly 10% of participants reporting higher enthusiasm post-ride, 76% think a self-driving car experience is similar or superior to a human-driven experience, 92% want to have control shared between human and self-driving. Other positive sentiment was in the form of reducing fatalities, enabling the elderly and disabled, and reducing travel times. ICYMI, AAA Study Shows Pedestrian Detection Works Inconsistently.

Seattle’s Car Ownership Drops More Than Any Other Big U.S. City. Between 2010 and 2018, car ownership in Seattle dropped by 3%. The next in line was Albuquerque with a 1.9% decrease. The main driver? Seattle spends more capita than any other region on mass transit. Notably, the light-rail line that the debuted in 2009 made it significantly easier to get by without owning a car.

🌟Uber Still Using Waymo-Derived Self-Driving Technology. In a filing this week with the SEC, Uber determined that it is still infringing on the IP rights of Waymo from the high-profile trade secret theft in 2017. As part of the original settlement, Uber agreed to hire an independent software expert to audit this exact behavior. The company will now have to either completely overhaul the implicated systems or license the technology from Waymo. From the Tempe, Arizona accident to this scandal, Uber just can’t seem to get traction on the self-driving front.  

Paris Publishes New Micromobility Rules of the Road. In the coming weeks, Paris regulations will limit scooter speeds to 15mph and will restrict riders to bike lanes. Other efforts by Paris’ mayor Anne Hidalgo include creating designated parking spots and consolidating fleet permits to three operators. This marks continued cooperation of scooter companies with regulators, in stark contrast to the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world. Related, Bikesharing Data Reveal Latent Demand for Suburban Bike Infrastructure.

📊 China Auto Consumer Insights 2019. Chinese passenger car sales grew by 11% YoY from 2010 to 2018, but sales have declined since. China’s auto market isn’t what it once was, but there are still some bright spots in the industry. Luxury car sales, used car sales, and alternative powertrain sales are all outpacing U.S. growth between 4% and 7%. Innovation in autonomous, electric, and connected systems will continue to bolster new growth. Related, Toyota & BYD Form Joint Venture to Manufacture Electric Cars in China and this map of Chinese Auto Investments in the U.S.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

CloudKitchens Raises $400M from Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund. The deal is speculated to value Travis Kalanick’s ghost-kitchen startup at around $5B. Increasingly, we see cloud kitchens (or ghost or dark kitchens) playing a role in the re-write of the food value chain.

Ehang Files for $100 Million Initial Public Offering. Ehang is a maker of autonomous and remote-piloted flying passenger vehicles. The company is currently testing under the supervision of China's aviation authorities and has produced 38 passenger-grade vehicles for trials.

Ghost Locomotion Raises $63.7M from Founders Fund. Ghost Locomotion is an SF-based company that's developing a retrofit to enable privately-owned passenger vehicles to drive autonomously on highways.

Sila Nano Raises $45M from Canada's Pension Plan Investment Board. Sila Nanotechnologies is an SF-based company that claims its battery materials can improve the energy density and reach of traditional Li-ion batteries. This funding, along with a $170M round from Daimler earlier this year, brings total funding to $340M. 

Kovi Raises $30M Led by Global Founders Capital. The São Paulo-based startup rents vehicles to drivers for ride-hailing companies. It is powering the services of Uber, Didi, and Lyft through access to cars for a population that largely cannot afford to own vehicles. The company will use the funds to improve the security and UX aspects of its service while expanding to other cities. 

Wrench Raises $20M Led by Vulcan Capital. Seattle-based Wrench offers on-demand vehicle maintenance and repair service for consumers and fleets. Vulcan Capital was joined by investors including Madrona Venture Group, Tenaya Capital and Marubeni Corporation.

Ursa Space Systems Raises $15M Led by Razor’s Edge Ventures. Ithaca-based geospatial analytics services startup Ursa netted this raise joined by New York City Ventures, Paladin Capital Group, RRE Ventures, and S&P Global. “We’re seeing a number of new markets pulling for insights from satellite-based data including supply chain, logistics, and insurance,” said the company CSO. 

Octopus Raises $10.3M Led by Sinclair. Octopus Interactive is a Maryland-based provider of interactive TVs and ad experiences for Uber and Lyft. The company is now creating geofences to target ads and offering real-time analytics to advertisers.

Robocorp Raises $5.6M Led by Benchmark. Robocorp is an SF-based startup that is automating tedious manual workflows inside large organizations to bring open-source and robotics processes together. Slow Ventures and firstminute Capital also participated in the round.

Quartic.ai Raises $5M Led by WRVI Capital. Quartic is a Canada-based full-stack industrial AI and IIoT software provider. The company is enabling its customers to access Industry 4.0 benefits by providing process manufacturing users and engineers with a platform to develop solutions without a data science or coding background. 

Lori Systems Raises Series A Led by Hillhouse Capital and Crystal Stream Capital. Lori Systems is Nairobi-based on-demand trucking logistics company. “We are using the round to ramp up operations, build up our technology, and hire a best in class team…that can drive a global revolution in logistics,” Lori Systems CEO Josh Sandler said. Other participants in the round include EchoVC and Ryan Petersen. 

Metawave Raises Series A Led by DENSO. Metawave is a Palo Alto-based smart radar company developing autonomous driving and wireless solutions for the deployment of 5G cellular networks. The company is in PoC stage with several leading automakers and Tier 1 transportation providers, demonstrating its beam-forming and beam-steering radar in challenging environments.

BP Invests in City Transportation App Whim. Whim is a Helsinki-based subscription app for urban public and private transportation. The app offers users a single platform to access all available transport options in a city including taxis, buses, bikes, escooters, rental cars, and ride-hailing services. The new investment will be used to support expansion plans to Singapore and the U.S.

Company Building 🛠️

Priorities During Annual Planning. “At least one and possibly two should be must do things the existing business requires and cannot be put off. And there should be at least one big new effort that will move the business forward.”

🎧 Sales Repositioning. An operator-led discussion about the repackaging of product, materials, and the selling model as a business scales.

Tips for Exit Interviews. Exit interviews aren’t pleasant but important—treat your outgoing employee with respect and get valuable feedback to help iterate on culture, operations, hiring process, etc. 

🌟Enterprise vs Consumer. “Venture-backed enterprise tech companies have generated $884B in value since 1995; $349B from M&A and $535B from IPOs. Venture-backed consumer tech companies have generated $773B in value since 1995; $153B from M&A and $620B from IPOs. In total, there were 5,600+ venture-backed exits in enterprise tech and 3,300+ exits in consumer tech.”

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Senior Backend Engineer at Verusen in Atlanta, GA.

Logistics Coordinator at Starsky Robotics in Dallas, TX.

Customer Success Lead at LEAF Logistics in New York, NY.

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.