Dynamo Dispatch (11/19/18)

Issue 44 | Fulfillment at Gap, Supply Chain Tech Estimates, VW on EV/AV

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo covering the latest and greatest in commerce and trade, #logisticstechnology, and building venture-scale businesses.

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Weekly Commentary 💭

It’s Thanksgiving Week. The Dynamo team and I wish our readers an enjoyable week with friends and family.

A few thoughts giving thanks and be grateful...

I have come to realize that gratitude is one of the most underrated practices leaders can engage in. It allows us to be grounded and forces a balance between positive and negative occurrences in our businesses.

It may seem odd to intentionally be grateful for challenges but adverse moments allow us to dig deep, learn, and grow. The positive facets of our life were generally forged as a result of duress or discomfort — a successful production deployment is a result of weeks (or months) of specs, feedback cycles, and debugging; revenue is the result of months (or years) of selling (and then retaining) a customer; investment return is a multi-year, multi-faceted support effort on part of an investor.

As we tend to focus on "what we're thankful for" understand those low points are something we are fortunate to have as business leaders and make us better founders, executives, and investors. Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh 💥

What We’re Reading 📖

Supply Chain

Resilience and Innovation at Gap. In the face of a major fire (during peak season) and competition from eCommerce, Gap has been able to implement a cutting edge, multi-channel fulfillment strategy that combines automation and modern software systems.

Supply Chain Tech Spending Estimate to Rise to $87.8B by 2022. AGL and Logistics Trends & Insights estimated that US companies will spend $2.5B+ on disruptive supply chain technologies by 2022. Compare that to 2017 figures of $75B (2017 total spend)/$2.23B (2017 disruptive spend).

Walmart, Ford, Postmates Partner on Grocery Delivery. The initial pilot will be in the Miami-area where Argo (Ford) is already testing/piloting their technologies. The vehicles won't be true AVs but provide important data on consumer preferences, configurations, and add-ons (reefers vs not) in the delivery context.

Another Shipping Association Launches to Standardize Digital Efforts. A week after a new blockchain alliance was announced with all alliances represented in the efforts. 'The association states firmly that it has no intention of developing or operating any digital platform, but aims to “ensure interoperability through standardisation”.'

FreightWaves to Launch Futures in March 2019. Contracts will begin trading on the Nodal Exchange and provide a mechanism to hedge price risk and capitalize on dislocation in the freight markets.

A New Day for Picking Robots. Picking robots are coming of age where they are able to make complex, fast-paced decisions around package picking and placement (think about a chute of Amazon parcels getting prepped for outbound). The labor challenges fulfillment operations face have made this market ripe for the rise of multi-billion-dollar companies.

Are Shippers Benefiting from the Logistics Startup Boom?. Coverage from the JoC Logistics Technology Conference that includes a variety of opinions and perspectives.

Greycroft leads $20M Seed in Emerge. Emerge is private freight marketplace and TMS system founded by Andrew and Michael Leto of Globaltranz.

Airspace Technologies Raises $20M Series B. Scale VP led the round in the logistics network operator that focuses on time-critical shipments.

Furniture Delivery Provider, Pickup Raises $5M. The seed round was led by TDF Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners.

IAM Robotics Raises $20M. The funding will go towards the deployment of the Swift picking robot system. KCK, a family investment firm led the round.


VW Details Plans for EV and AV. VW plans to invest $50B+ to support it’s EV and AV goals by 2023. Part of the plan details a conversion of three of its German plants to build EV at scale as well as a 30% increase in factory productivity by 2025. VW targets 15M in production for the MEB EV manufacturing platform globally across all brands starting in 2020. Management also confirmed discussions around collaboration with Ford.

Lime Expands Suite of Mobility Form Factors with Car-Sharing. The new LimePod service will launch with 50 cars with 1,500 on the streets of Seattle by early next year. It will cost $1 to unlock + 40 cents/mile with insurance included.

Transit is Important to Attract Businesses and Walkability of Suburban Campuses. It turns out that transit and mobility are top of mind this week as it relates to economic development as well as corporate campus development. We think about the latter often given our investment in London-based Zeelo. We’re due for a massive revamp of mass transit complements as corporate parks rationalize their parking, improve accessibility to their facilities, and wasted time on commutes are substituted for rest, leisure, and productivity.

Uber Clocks $1B in Q3 Losses. With a 2019 IPO in the wings, Uber continues to invest in a future of bikes, scooters, and freight as well as key markets like India and the Middle East.

A Few Self-Driving Cars Can Stop Traffic Jams. It turns out that a few self-driving cars can reduce traffic jams. Researchers at UC Berkely simulation several scenarios where the mix of AVs vs human-driven cars were manipulated. One scenario, a figure-8 pattern, saw cars speeds double with the introduction of 1 AV for every 14 conventional cars.

Seasonality in Ride Sharing. A deep dive into how Lyft deals with supply/demand forecasting around peak periods such as the holidays. While a technical piece, the concepts are interesting for anyone wondering how a platform can attempt to balance their driver/passenger needs and economic dynamics.

Oil Demand Declining As EVs Ramp. While a vast majority of EVs to date are supported by government subsidies, it looks like the IEA is starting to buy-in on a future that’s driven more by electric drive trains than gas-consuming, internal combustion engines. That said, oil consumption is still rising as chemicals, trucks, planes, and ships remain large end users in the medium-term.

The Complete eVTOL Market Overview. An overview of all flying mobility startups and solutions.

Apex.AI Raises $15.5M Series A. The company makes an OS for autonomous vehicles that is fail-proof. The round was led by Caanan Partners.

Roadbotics Raises $3.9M Seed. Roadbotics offers a vision-based system to assess road quality. The round was led by Hyperplane VC.

Ridecell Expands Series B to $60B. The company makes fleet management software for car sharing and AVs. Activate Capital led the round.

Company Building

Getting to Product/Market Fit. Rahul Vohra, Founder of Superhuman (I highly suggest it for anyone who grapples with high volumes of email) discusses the leading metric he used to track-to and determine whether his second startup has hit product/market fit. A MUST READ FOR FOUNDERS

Pivot or Fail. Fred Wilson shares is thoughts on when a pivot might be worse than just closing shop, returning capital, and moving on.

Building a Data Practice from Scratch. Data is part-and-parcel to every action in the supply chain. Ramping an effective data science function is important for many companies — two cents on how such an effort might be established in the early days.

What We’re Listening To 🎧

While we were quiet on the podcast front this past week, it's worth listening to Episode 3 of The Future of Supply Chain Podcast where I sit with Sean Henry of Stord. On this episode, we give listeners a primer on warehousing/distribution, the status quo, and how Stord’s changing the industry with their software-enabled network of warehouse partners.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

NLP Engineer at Vector AI in London.

Senior DevOps Engineer at SKUPOS in San Francisco, CA.

Front-end Javascript Developer at Sennder in Berlin, Germany.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.