12. Convoy

Persephone Kavallines

Founders: Dan Lewis (CEO), Grant Goodale
Launched: 2015
Headquarters: Seattle
$668 million
Valuation: $2.7 billion
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, deep learning, Internet of Things, machine learning
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 2 (No. 47 in 2020)

Seattle-based Convoy is taking on the $1.2 trillion global trucking and shipping industry with machine learning and a sustainable, efficiency-driven mission.

Founders (and former Amazon executives) Dan Lewis and Grant Goodale recognized that 80% of every freight dollar is spent on trucking, but 35% of miles traveled are wasted with empty trucks. According to Convoy, that 35% translates to 72 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. The start-up and its star-studded team of backers are betting that there's a better way to move freight.

Through its automated digital freight network Convoy connects carriers with shippers, upending the industry's broker-reliant tradition. Typically, carriers partner with brokers to gain a clear picture of freight availability and to match shipment loads to trucks. But regardless of how many brokers a carrier uses, that carrier still won't see all of the freight space currently available. The more brokers a carrier tries to use, the more schedules and routes that carrier needs to juggle, resulting in route inefficiencies and wasted space. With hefty brokerage fees that correspond to the high labor demands of the task, the trucking industry has a costly problem that Convoy is using technology to solve.  

By automating load matching and allowing carriers to see all available freight at any given time, Convoy shrinks empty miles and wasted hours while boosting profitable hours for truckers. The larger the network grows, the more efficient it becomes. Naturally, the company's revenue grows accordingly: Convoy takes a percentage of each transaction on its platform.

The company recently joined The Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon, to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Convoy's pitch for sustainable efficiency has won over an impressive cohort of investors. To date, the start-up has raised $668 million from the likes of Marc Benioff, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, U2's Bono and The Edge, and institutional investors including Fidelity, T Rowe Price, Y Combinator, and Alphabet's independent growth fund CapitalG.

Contributed by Cameron Costa

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