Xeneta causes a stir with $80m at a $265m valuation to scale its crowdsourced ocean and air freight analytics

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The wheels of global trade continue to turn, through wars, pandemics and economic downturns; and today, a startup taking a new tech approach to making one of the most outdated aspects of this industry work better – shipping – is announcing a major fundraising round to double the growth.

Xeneta – an Oslo, Norway-based startup that applies crowdsourcing innovations to the fragmented and often murky world of shipping to create transparent data and analytics for the industry – has raised $80 million, money that ‘it will use to build its datasets and customers on more global routes.

Xeneta has already amassed 300 million data points from “several hundred” of the world’s largest shipping companies, who contribute and then source data from the Xeneta platform to determine whether they are paying market prices for their shipments on particular routes. And Mover $40 billion worth of supply sits on the platform to date. However, this is all just the tip of the iceberg: Patrik Berglund, CEO and co-founder of Xeneta, said in an interview with TechCrunch that combined air and sea purchases (the two channels that Xeneta covers today ) total between $600 and $900 million. depending on the season; and there are thousands After shipping companies and other maritime transport players.

“We believe we will have 1,000 on Xeneta in the near future,” he said. He aimed for the biggest first: current customers include Electrolux, Unilever, Nestlé, Zebra Technologies, Thyssenkrupp, Volvo, General Mills, Procter & Gamble and John Deere.

The financing values ​​Xeneta at $265 million, the company confirmed.

Apax Digital, the growth capital arm of private equity firm Apax, is leading the round, with participation from Lugard Road Capital. Lugard is a subsidiary of a former backer of the company, Luxor, and other existing investors include Creandum, Point Nine and Smedvig. Prior to this round, the company had raised approximately $55 million in a series of rounds beginning in 2013.

Innovations in e-commerce and fintech have accelerated the way the world finds and pays for goods and services, but when it comes to getting items from A to B to keep the wheels of this ecosystem turning, the travel is a little slower: the expedition remains a fragmented ecosystem and — subject to economic, climatic and social changes — often unpredictable.

A number of tech startups have emerged over the past few years, targeting opportunities to bring more modern approaches to the outdated and un-streamlined world of shipping. PayCargo develops new payment products; companies like Sender, Zencargo and Flexport focused on freight transport; Flock Freight applies a ride-sharing philosophy to trucking; Convoy is also applying a new twist to logistics; Fleetzero thinks there’s mileage in electric cargo ships; etc

Xeneta belongs to another distinct category of freight and forwarding services: business intelligence for companies working in the industry.

As Berglund explained, this is a somewhat varied and unstructured market: for starters, you have thousands of large and small shipping companies and the partners they use to carry out their work, as well as hundreds of thousands of companies using these services. Additionally, these interactions are often analogous and impacted by a host of factors that can affect pricing and overall operations. Those looking to book an expedition job may not know what the going price might be for a particular route, or if it can be approached in a different way at a lower cost. Those who have space on the freighters do not know the best prices to offer to potential customers.

Xeneta’s breakthrough was to create a platform where all of these players could essentially share the prices they pay at any given time for a particular route. Its system then orders that data and applies analytics around it to model how pricing will evolve and what that might mean for related routes elsewhere.

As with other crowdsourced logistics platforms (Waze is a good example), the more data the system is fed with, the more powerful it becomes. Today, Xeneta has definitely moved into the self-powered category in this respect, although previous years when the company was just starting out were significantly more difficult.

Initially, the company covered only one route – from a port in Norway to a port in China. But getting his first customers to take the leap to provide data for this one pass to prove Xeneta’s value has proven to be a winner: Berglund said things quickly accelerated as these customers enter more data. , and others started doing it too, in order to better understand how much they were paying, what routes they were taking, etc. The data is now based on a 70/30 split between sea and air (it doesn’t cover land routes at this point) and the data stream is active enough that when you visit Xeneta’s site you see it pass in ticker form as it’s updated, more like a stock exchange. Interestingly, it appears that data submitters are less concerned with the competitive aspect of disclosing their own data to potential rivals: the value gained from knowing the big picture seems to outweigh this fact.

Interestingly, the company is not in the business of booking shipping routes, nor does it want to be, Berglund said.

“My background is in freight forwarding,” he said, and so he knows the benefit of being someone who can provide this group with more data to do the job better. “Whether it’s a new digital freight forwarder or an incumbent, they all need better data to run their business more efficiently.” He added that 95% of the market still primarily uses Excel spreadsheets to analyze historical and current data.

“I’m just flabbergasted that they still use this, and fax machines.”

And just to be clear, he’s not the only one who has realized the potential to bring more intelligence tools to this industry that is eventually modernizing. Others, like Freightview, are also creating tools to allow those who book shipping to get an idea of ​​market prices.

“Buyers and sellers of freight are flying blind in a complex and opaque market. Xeneta’s state-of-the-art dataset and platform provides unique access to real-time insights and granular insights, enabling data-driven freight sales and purchases,” said Mark Beith, Partner at Apax Digital, in a press release. “It delivers compelling value to their blue chip clientele, not just in sales or procurement, but also in budgeting and reporting, and increasingly in ESG monitoring. We are delighted to partner with Patrik and the Xeneta team and help them realize their vision. Beith joins the Xeneta board with this round.

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