Airspace Technologies raises $20 mln as investors pile into logistics startups
By Heather Somerville
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The latest startup aiming
to bring new technology to the business of moving around cargo
has raised $20 million in fresh funding, bolstering an already
record year of fundraising for companies in the shipping and
The chief executive of Airspace Technologies, a nearly
3-year-old startup based in Southern California, told Reuters it
raised the money in a funding round led by Silicon Valley-based
firm Scale Venture Partners, with help from existing investors
including Qualcomm Ventures.
The company plans to extend the round and raise more money
from additional interested investors, said Airspace co-founder
and CEO Nick Bulcao.
The company is part of a roster of more than 125 startups
working on technology for shipping, fleet management,
warehousing, logistics and last-mile delivery services,
according to a tally by data firm CB Insights.
Airspace Technologies' focus is on time-critical shipping,
getting blood samples delivered to a lab, an organ to a hospital
or a mechanical part to a grounded airplane or stalled
The startup's technology includes a Web-based application
where shippers can get prices and route information, and
real-time tracking for companies receiving the shipment. Another
piece is a smartphone app for drivers who, similar to Uber
drivers, have their locations tracked and are dispatched to pick
up goods to be brought to and from airports for air travel.
The drivers have security clearance to transfer the goods at
airport cargo facilities. Airspace Technologies works with Delta
Air Lines, American Airlines Inc, Southwest
Airlines Co, United Airlines Inc and other
major airlines, Bulcao said.
"Amazon has changed the way that consumers buy and expect
their shipments in the same day," Bulcao said. "But the
businesses really haven't caught up to that until now."
The funding brings the company's valuation to about $100
million, up from about $20 million in its last funding round in
August, according to data firm PitchBook Inc and a separate
source with knowledge of the matter.
'AN OPPORTUNITY HERE'
The opportunity to transform large, critical industries that
at times still depend on handwritten logs and fax machines has
captivated tech investors. Venture capitalists have so far this
year poured $10.5 billion into startups in the field, not quite
triple the $3.9 billion invested last year, and more than any of
the previous three years, according to CB Insights.
"Anything where you just need something in a time-sensitive
way, where time is money, there is an opportunity here," said
Stacey Bishop, a partner at Scale Venture Partners who will join
Airspace's board of directors.
But Airspace and its fellow startups are up against large
incumbents including UPS Inc, DHL, FedEx Corp
and Walmart Inc that are also experimenting with
technology such as robotics and blockchain to make delivery more
efficient and easier to track. Their efforts have already forced
some consolidation among startups.
"What you worry about is what the incumbents can do," Bishop
said. "Can Airspace get enough market share before the
incumbents wake up?"
(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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