Flexport is a global freight forwarder operating an intelligent logistics platform that enables effective decisions to participate in global trade. Freight forwarding is a complex of services for ensuring the transportation of goods, including their documentary registration and support. The essence of professional forwarding consists in escorting cargo “from door to door” and continuous monitoring of the cargo transportation process in order to avoid failures. The company was founded in 2013 by Ryan Petersen and Suzanne Schöneberg. Petersen retains his position as CEO, while Schöneberg is developing a logistics resource, Flexport.org, which pursues the goals of the ESG agenda.
Flexport’s original goal was to improve coordination and communication between buyers and sellers in the global trade. In the year the company was established, the logistics industry continued to operate according to the traditional scheme, using paper documents. Flexport’s mission was to modernize and simplify the cumbersome bureaucratic freight forwarding process while minimizing the potential for operational errors. In three years, Flexport’s customer base has grown to 700 customers in 64 countries around the world. In 2018, Flexport expanded its operations with the introduction of freight financing services, the charter of its own aircraft and the management of its own warehouses. Currently, Flexport’s customer base numbers 10,000 clients in 200 countries around the world.
Flexport’s business model is designed in such a way that the company makes money from both importers and exporters. The company’s revenue grew from $ 30 million in 2014 to $ 1.7 billion in 2020. It is no secret that the global pandemic has had a negative effect on the company’s business due to the disruption of the world’s logistics supply chains. Nevertheless, the company managed to adapt to the new conditions. Management says the company maintains positive margins. During the pandemic, Flexport.org was one of 10 organizations that contributed to the creation of the Frontline Responder’s Fund. The foundation raised more than $ 8 million and used it to provide social assistance, including the delivery of 54 million masks, food and medical supplies around the world. The fund used the patented intelligent Flexport technology, which is able to determine where in the world one or another product is most in demand.
According to Crunchbase, during 4 investment rounds during 2014-2019. Flexport was able to raise $ 1.3 billion. Following the results of the last investment round of Series D in February 2019, during which the company was able to raise $ 1 billion, Flexport’s valuation was $ 3.2 billion. Among the largest investors in the transaction were funds such as Softbank, Founders Fund, DST Global, Cherubic Ventures, Susa Ventures and SF Expresslead. There is no information in public sources about the company’s intention to go public. However, according to Crunchbase, there were major secondary market deals in the company’s stock in March and December 2019.
As the global economy recovers from the pandemic, global trade is showing steady growth. According to FreightWaves.com, in May 2021, global freight traffic was 1.5 times higher than before the pandemic. Market growth is associated not only with an increase in current demand, but also with the desire of retailers to build up their stocks to meet the growing demand in the medium term. Flexport has a competitive advantage in terms of data processing and understanding in which geographic location it is most demanded to deliver this or that cargo. Raising capital through an IPO mechanism would help the company scale its platform in the face of growing business activity in all logistics markets around the world. Among the obvious risks for Flexport’s business are the risks of a slowdown in the global economy and the risks of tightening industry regulation in individual countries.