As Seen On Wall Street Journal.
Written By Paul Page
Latest funding round will support expansion of the company’s visibility platform, boosting its services and geographic reach on the way to possible public offering
Logistics technology provider project44 raised $100 million in a Series D funding round that will help to expand the reach of its supply-chain visibility software and build its business as it weighs a potential public stock offering over the long term.
The funding round was led by existing investor Insight Partners, and backing from 8VC, Emergence Capital Partners, Omidyar Technology Ventures, Sapphire Ventures LLC, Sozo Ventures, and Underscore VC.
The investment is the latest in a growing surge of financial support going to digitally-focused logistics providers and software startups that are looking to bring new technology tools that help companies run supply chains more efficiently.
Project44’s technology provides visibility allowing companies to see how their shipments are moving through distribution networks and to help make adjustments in case of snags or changes in market demands. The company’s platform uses application program interface technology, or APIs, and other connections to collect information from numerous freight transportation and logistics providers and put it into a standard format that retailers, manufacturers and other shippers can use.
“We are the connective tissue for logistics and supply chains,” said project44 founder and Chief Executive Jett McCandless.
Supply-chain management technology has drawn more attention this year as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus triggered sharp changes in retail markets and upended many industrial supply chains.
“Covid accelerated the role of technology for supply chains,” said Ryan Yost, a vice president at Avery Dennison Corp., a Glendale, Calif.-based manufacturer of industrial packaging. “What we thought was on the horizon for 2025 will be implemented in 2021.”
The combination of capacity limits in logistics networks and a push to get goods to market faster “demands technology to enable visibility and traceability at the item level,” he said.
Research group Gartner Inc. estimated the overall supply-chain software market expanded 8.3% in 2019 to more than $15 billion in revenue amid “increasing need for agility, end-to-end visibility and supply chain resilience,” according to an analysis released in June 2020.
Chicago-based project44 has raised about $241 million since its founding six years ago, including the new funding round and two rounds in 2018 that were six months apart.
Increased investor attention is driving up valuations for supply-chain technology companies. In October supply-chain software provider E2open LLC said it plans to go publicthrough a merger with a blank-check company valuing the business at about $2.57 billion.
Mr. McCandless wouldn’t disclose project44’s valuation based on the new round but said business is growing rapidly. Bookings were up 139% year-over-year in the first half of 2020, he said, adding “we’re quite optimistic the second half of the year will be similar.”
A $45 million investment round in October 2018 valued project44 at “slightly less than half a billion,” Mr. McCandless said at that time.
The company has more than 400 customers across 140 countries and its system. Project44’s customers include Amazon.comInc., PepsiCo, Owens Corning, Dollar GeneralCorp. , Tractor Supply Co. , Electrolux AB andGeneral Mills Inc., according to its website.
The new funding will back an effort to build out services and expand its geographic reach. The company also plans to add 100 workers to its current staff of 285.
The supply-chain technology sector has been rife with consolidation in recent years, but Mr. McCandless said the company wants to stand alone while using its technology alongside that of big enterprise software companies like SAP SE, Oracle Corp. and Infor to connect its platform to their customers.
Instead, he said, project44 has eyes on a potential public stock offering in “18 months to two years” that would bring broader investment to the business. Mr. McCandless wouldn’t discuss details for such an IPO.
Ross Devor, a managing partner at Insight Partners who will become a member of the project44 board, suggested that meanwhile the company could be in the market for acquisitions. “Project44 has had a tremendous organic-growth story to date,” he said, but the new funding could spur new expansion by helping find and support acquisitions.
Corrections & Amplifications
Omidyar Technology Ventures were participants in the latest funding round for project44. An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the company as Omidyar Network. (Corrected on Dec. 21)
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Appeared in the December 22, 2020, print edition as ‘Provider of Logistics Software Gets Funds Logistics- Software Firm Adds Funding.’