Freight forwarder sennder raises $80M at a $1B+ valuation

Freight forwarding — the process of organising how and where items will be shipped around the world, and specifically the technology that underpins that work — continues to be a huge area of the logistics market, not least because of the huge boom in e-commerce in the last year, and because of the COVID-19-mandated need to simply be more efficient in how things are being moved around. Today, one of the bigger players in that space is announcing more funding to capitalize on the opportunity.

Sennder, a digital freight forwarder that focuses on moving cargo around Europe (and specifically focusing on trucks and “full truck load”, FTL, freight forwarding), has raised $80 million in funding, at a valuation the company confirms is now over $1 billion.

The Berlin-based startup has been on something of a funding tear this year. In January, it announced a $160 million round, and this $80 million is closing out its Series D. Baillie Gifford led this latest Series D extension, with Hedosophia, Accel, Lakestar, HV Capital, Project A and Scania all participating in the previous part of the Series D.

The funding makes sennder, which has now raised some $350 million, one of the most well-funded of the freight forwarders, but it’s a hot area at the moment. Another player out of Europe, Zencargo, picked up $42 million just last month. Other competitors include the likes of Flexport in the U.S.

Sennder is growing organically, but it’s also making some acquisitions to scale up — a mark not just of the activity in the market but also the fragmentation. In May, it acquired Cars&Cargo to give it a stronger presence in France and Benelux. Other companies it has acquired include Uber Freight Europe and Everoad in 2020, and it also operates a JV with Poste Italiane, Italy’s postal service. Altogether it now has eight hubs in Europe.

The plan will be to make more acquisitions of this kind, the company said, to expand a network that now covers 12,500 trucks that it says works with 10 German DAX 30 and 11 Euro Stoxx 50 shippers and is expected to move more than 1 million truckloads in 2021.

“We are delighted to have carried our momentum from 2020 into 2021, having already made one acquisition and signed several strategic partnerships,” said David Nothacker, CEO and co-founder of sennder, in a statement. “We look to expand our European footprint, bringing more carriers and shippers onto the sennder platform, while expanding our digital offering – such as SaaS. Acquisitions and strategic partnerships are part of this strategy – the additional funds give us the flexibility to capitalize on the right opportunities. Baillie Gifford has backed a wave of revolutionary tech companies; their commitment to sennder is a vote of confidence in our team, technology, and business model.”

Stephen Paice, co-manager, Baillie Gifford European Growth Trust PLC, added: “We are delighted to join the sennder team on its journey to disrupt Europe’s logistics industry. We strongly believe its technology has the potential to create tremendous value for stakeholders and society in an industry plagued with inefficiencies and needless CO2 emissions. What’s particularly impressive, beyond the progress shown so far, is the purpose-driven and entrepreneurial mind-set instilled within the company. This will no doubt be an important factor for long-term success.”