September 26, 2016
Flexport Raises $65M to Fund Global Expansion
Today we’re announcing that we’ve raised a Series B round of $65M to fund our global expansion, bringing our total capital raised to $94M. Flexport’s mission is fix the user experience in global trade.
We live in an increasingly connected world, and yet it’s still too hard to ship products across international borders. To fix that, we’re building a new operating system for global trade that will unite the world in a seamless web of commerce. This matters because increasing international trade is one of the few proven ways for a country to boost economic growth and improve the wellbeing of its population.
Our very first investor, Y Combinator Co-Founder, Paul Graham, once said, “Flexport is taking on automating shipping. Just imagine the potential energy to be released there. It’s 12% of the global economy. And it’s much of the backpressure constraining the other 88%. The potential energy is all the greater because this domain is currently so backward.”
We’re reminded everyday just how hard modernizing shipping is. Logistics is a world of exceptions and we’re surrounded by problems that occasionally seem intractable. So we’ve been fortunate to have visionary, patient investors who have continued to support us round after round.
In fact, this new funding was filled out almost entirely by existing Flexport investors including Founders Fund, Bloomberg Beta, Felicis Ventures, First Round Capital, Susa Ventures, Yuri Milner, and others. They are joined by a new investor, Joe Lonsdale of 8VC. Trae Stephens from Founders Fund will join the board.
The funding will help us hire and retain more smart, driven people to tackle the many challenges we face. And it will also let us continue our rapid international expansion. Unlike many high growth Silicon Valley companies, Flexport has been a global company from day one. Our employees speak more than 35 languages, and helping companies go global is at the very heart of our mission.
In 2016 we opened offices in Amsterdam, New York, and Hong Kong, and already we have more than 30 people working in those locations. Our rapid growth in these countries will mirror that of our San Francisco headquarters, and we expect to open offices in additional countries so our sales and operations squads can be closer to customers and supply chain partners.
By any ordinary standard, $65M is an enormous amount of money. But this is no ordinary industry. Logistics is 12% of global GDP, and companies spend $1.1 trillion dollars on freight forwarding alone. There are few markets this big, and probably none as untouched by the Internet and its accompanying technologies.
And yet, the problems we’re solving go far beyond freight forwarding. Our vision is to build the operating system for global trade, creating a seamless web of global commerce. It’s an immensely complex undertaking, and one that will take many years to achieve.
Thankfully, on our way there we’ve found a repeatable path to generate profitable revenue, so we can patiently integrate more nodes in the network and use software to steadily improve all the complex processes of global trade transactions.
In that light, $65M doesn’t feel like much. And we’re already looking into ways to fool ourselves into thinking we raised even less so we can maintain the lean, scrappy culture that’s served us so well these last few years.