SoftBank-backed Flock Freight is the freight industry’s newest unicorn

The global shipping and freight industry has never been more in the spotlight, as the pandemic and other disruptions have led to enormous supply chain bottlenecks. While trucking logistics company Flock Freight can’t solve the global supply chain crisis, it could help get goods to their destinations faster and with less waste.

Less than a year after it closed its Series C, the company has raised a $215 million Series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, making it the industry’s most recent unicorn at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

Flock Freight has developed a software-driven “shared truckload” service called FlockDirect — think of it as carpooling for shipping customers, letting them pool their goods and avoid terminals and hub transfers in the process. By using probability pricing algorithms, the company pools midsized freight from multiple shippers that are all heading in the same direction.

According to the company, both customers and vehicle haulers benefit: customers by avoiding costs associated with repeated loading and unloading, as well as paying for trailer space they don’t actually need; and haulers by filling their trucks to capacity. Flock Freight offers additional savings through its “prebate” program, an incremental cost-savings program for freight that is less than 40 feet and 36,000 pounds.

The savings aren’t just monetary. Flock Freight says its tech reduces carbon emissions — as much as 40% — compared to the traditional hub-and-spoke shipping system. The company estimates that it has eliminated more than 15,000 tons of emissions to date.

The six-year-old startup is also aiming to use the funds to expand its operations and to hire, especially in Chicago, where it will open a new office this year.

SoftBank was an early investor in Flock Freight, leading its $113.5 million Series C last year. In addition to the Japanese firm, this latest round also saw participation from new minority investor Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, as well as Eden Global Partners. Existing investors SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners and Alphabet’s venture fund GV also participated.