November 3, 2023
There is no doubt about it, we live in the digital age. Much to the chagrin of boomers, the majority of businesses are making the transition to digitizing their operations. Yes, even if it doesn’t make sense. If you know anything about the transportation industry, you’ll know that it is heavily reliant on adaptability, and is very susceptible to unforeseen circumstances. Overhauling the way things worked takes a lot of time, and cash, things that companies like to avoid wrestling with.
That was the goal of Convoy’s Dan Lewis, when he created the first digital freight brokerage (spoiler: he failed.) However, when a company sees dollar signs, there’s no stopping them, even if you’re on a government regulation board, and Convoy saw (and had) a lot of dollar signs, as a result of early investments. Investments by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, and over $100 million in venture loans, gave the business a value of $3.8 billion by April 2022.
That brings us to Convoy. You may have heard of them in the past few years as an up-and-coming digital freight brokerage. They had the right idea with their intentions of unifying such a fractured industry, where many things are cordoned off into their own sections, but it soon became clear to them that it was possible to be a bit too forward-thinking. While automation is rapidly taking over most forms of business, there will still be certain industries that are “stuck in the past” so to speak. This is not a negative, because people are capable of more abstract problem solving than computers ever could be. In an industry like 3PL, where there is a surprise around every corner, this is an invaluable asset.
As hard as they tried, Dan Lewis and his company were unsuccessful in their endeavors. As stated, the industry is segmented, and building the web that would connect it is a task so nebulous that it may not be worth doing. In October of 2023, Lewis announced that the company would be going out of business.
In conclusion, the plight of Convoy can teach us a few things, both about the industry and in general. The main point being that there are intricacies about the current brokerage process that cannot be replicated digitally. Certain things just require that human touch. It also highlights the importance of planning, which is not only a boon, but a necessity in the logistics field.
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