By Erica E. Phillips / The Wall Street Journal
Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co. is leading a new $60 million investment round in logistics software startup Turvo, backing a technology that Mubadala says could support its businesses in the semiconductor, mining, energy and other sectors.
Mubadala Ventures, the firm’s San Francisco-based venture-capital arm, is joining G2VP and Siemens AG -backed Next47 in the Series B funding round, and Mubadala Ventures leader Ibrahim Ajami, is joining Turvo’s board of directors, Turvo said in announcing the new backing Thursday.
Mr. Ajami said Mubadala Ventures invests in startups “using software, enabled by cloud computing and mobile, to look at archaic or difficult-to-change industries.” Supply chain and logistics is one of those industries, he said in an interview, and “we can leverage all of Mubadala’s companies around the world…by connecting these unique, innovative technologies with our global asset base.”
Turvo’s software seeks to connect wide segments of corporate supply chains, including transportation management to freight booking, payments, tracking and communications. Through a web browser or mobile device, the system looks similar to social-media applications, with shipments that can be commented on or updated in real-time by shippers, carriers or through internet-enabled sensors on vehicles.
“Logistics is inherently social—you’re working together, you’re sharing, you’re collaborating,” said Eric Gilmore, founder and chief executive of Turvo, Sunnyvale, Calif. “So why is it not as easy to share a shipment just like you’d share a photo on Facebook ?”
Turvo’s use of social-media principles to increase collaboration and visibility in goods movement comes as many logistics businesses have started using consumer devices to power their operations. With higher shipping demand putting more stress on distribution networks, the use of familiar technology has sped up worker training and improved productivity, companies say.
But building an entirely new system connecting so many different supply chain functions is ambitious, and many in the growing field of logistics technology startups have tackled just one component, such as freight booking.
“More and more, it’s not just about moving things from point A to point B, but providing a significant level of transparency and collaboration across the entire supply chain,” Mr. Ajami said.
The new backing follows a $25 million Series A funding round announced in March 2017. Turvo declined to disclose the valuation of the business based on that and the new funding round.
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