Dynamo Dispatch (12/03/18)

Issue 45 | DHL, AWS DeepRacer and RoboMaker, Bird Platform

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 💭

A brief hello from NYC where we're hosting our first annual portfolio day. We have a series of interviews and presentations for our portfolio founders to benefit from the experience and wisdom of best-in-class operators.

It looks like policy news over the weekend around a temporary China-US trade policy truce and a "NAFTA 2.0" are seen positive by the markets. That said, I think the former is more of a delay or deferral around Trump's trade war rhetoric. The latter could just further complicate US political affairs as the deal must get congressional approval.

See you next week!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh 💥

What We’re Reading 📖

Supply Chain & Transportation

DHL to Invest $300M in Warehouse Modernization. DHL made a statement last week that they're serious about being a North American eComm logistics player with a massive warehouse modernization plan. The goal is to implement IoT, software, and robotics at 60% of their facilities. The news follows UPS pouring billions into modernization and network digitization.

Introducing Bird Platform. In a very Amazon Flex-esque move, Bird is allowing entrepreneurs to manage their own fleet of electric scooters. Bird will provide the logistics and charging infrastructure once they sell a scooter for 20% revenue share.

Why Starsky Robotics Won't Use Lidar. Kartik Tiwari, CTO of Starsky discusses how LIDAR is less helpful when teleoperators are in the mix. "Lidar technology, applied to autonomous driving, is a good science project that gets in the way of engineering."

Amazon Selling Medical Supplies to Sick. "An app, developed by a separate company called Xealth Inc., enables doctors to choose which supplies to recommend, then email the list of products to a patient. The email directs the patient to a website with photos of recommended products, descriptions and links for purchasing on Amazon."

Spread Out Online Promotions a Boon for Supply Chains. Online promotions are starting earlier and lasting longer, providing some relief from one-day surges. DHL did note their NYC facility saw a 15% y/y increase in volumes between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Launch Time for Waymo. The 10-year old moonshot effort by Google is gearing up for their first self driving ride service in Phoenix. All eyes are on the safety and passenger experience of the the service — management is heavily managing expectations.

GM to Layoff 15,000 + Close 7 Facilities. While the socioeconomic outrage continues, the rationalization shows the increasing importance of EVs. It appears that many factories are building dated models with the inability to adjust production for newer trends and technologies.

FedEx Invests in 1,000 Electric Vehicles from Chanje. The news hit over the Thanksgiving holiday but increases the electric fleet by close to 33%. The new vehicles will be operated in California with 100 purchased directly with the remaining 900 leased via Ryder.

Conditions for Shippers Improve as Capacity Crunch Subsides. The FTR Shippers Conditions Index shows some signs of renewed balance in September.

Citigroup Research on the Future of Food & Agriculture. I bring your attention to discussions around waste, a call for more vertical integration across the food supply chain, digital ag, and machinery and equipment.

Strategic Developments, Fundraises, Mergers & Acquisitions

AWS Launches Deepracer and RoboMaker at Re:Invent. DeepRacer allows engineer to learn and understand reinforcement learning with a $399 car. Could it be a smart way to build and then sell basic autonomy stack? RoboMaker is a centralized environment to build, test, and deploy robots with the cloud.

Easyship Raises $4M Series A. Easyship seeks to make international shipping for eCommerce as simple as Stripe makes international payment

Shipping Container Optimization Startup Blue Cargo Raises $3M Seed. The round was led by 1984 Ventures with participation from Greenbay Ventures, Sound Ventures, Kima Ventures, and others.

Event Mobility Startup, Rally Raises $5M Seed. The round was led by Daimler Buses who will work closely with Rally to develop hardware and software for the on-demand bus market.

XPO Partners with Google Maps for Last Mile Visibility. A user can track a shipment by entering the phrase “XPO Package Tracking” and then typing in the shipment number from any device.

Syrius Robotics and JD Logistics Co-Develop Warehouse Robotics. The AGVs will be available starting May 2019 for $14,100 with an initial production run of 100.

Cruise Appoints Dan Ammann as CEO, Kyle Vogt now CTO. Ammann comes with the experience of managing large companies (Cruise is 1,000 employees today) as well as taking GM public after the government bailout. Is a GM Cruise public float in the works?

Company Building

The Future of Marketplaces. A must read for marketplace founders discussing the reinvention of the service economy using marketplace models.

The Seed Funding Market is Less Crowded Than You Think. A very insightful read around the dynamics of the seed market. There are few instances where I can agree with everything in an article — this is one of those.

Selling Product While You Build It. Through an annual pre pay contract, customers will often pay a startup to build their product. It's an efficient way of financing product investment. The catch is that early stage founding teams must be able to sell and build simultaneously.

What We’re Listening To 🎧

While we were quiet on the podcast front this past week, it's worth listening to Episode 4 and Episode 5 of The Future of Supply Chain Podcast. I spent Episode 4 chatting with Erik Nieves of Plus One Robotics about the basics of industrial automation. Episode 5, I discuss clinical trial supply chains with Rust Felix of Slope.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Senior System Integration Engineering (Mechanical) at PlusOne Robotics in San Antonio, TX.

NLP Engineer at Vector AI in London.

Operations Specialist at Stord in Atlanta, GA.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.