As reported by GeekWire, Amazon is increasingly spending time on technology to revolutionize the supply chain, so a report out today from Business Insider that the tech giant is working on a new application to connect truckers with shippers should not come as a surprise.
Citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, Business Insider’s Eugene Kim reports that Amazon will launch an app next summer to connect truckers with shippers, possibly removing inefficiencies in how goods get moved from point A to point B and perhaps eliminating the need for brokers who typically serve in this matchmaking role.
If that business model sounds familiar, you may recall that Seattle-based startup Convoy has raised big money to do the same thing. Dan Lewis, the CEO of Convoy and a former Amazon employee, declined to comment on the Business Insider report.
Convoy raised $16 million in funding earlier this year, including cash from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and others. Interestingly, Jeff Wilke - the CEO of Amazon.com’s Worldwide Consumer group - is an investor in Convoy, as is Jeff Bezos’ venture capital arm, Bezos Expeditions.
Convoy’s Lewis previously served as general manager of new shopping experiences at Amazon. I asked Lewis directly about possible competition with his former employer on the GeekWire podcast in June.
Here’s what Dan Lewis said:
I’d be crazy to say that Amazon’s not going to do this, right? Because at some point, Amazon’s going to do everything, right? Any entrepreneur doing anything period should think, ‘Oh, when’s Amazon going to do this?’ They’ll probably do a really good job. I think that it’s more a matter of when….
Amazon is uniquely positioned to have the best delivery logistics system in the world, I think, right now. I think for them to open that up and to make that an offering, more broadly, I don’t know, but that seems to me like they’d be giving away a lot more of their secret sauce than offering up AWS, which is something that is actually more commoditized than getting a parcel to your house.
Business Insider reports that the new app will offer real-time pricing and driving directions, among other features. It’s unclear whether the app would be used for Amazon’s own internal shipping efforts, or if it could possibly be used more broadly in the trucking industry.
The U.S. trucking industry is estimated to hover around $800 billion, and it has largely been untouched by technology.
“The problem we are solving is around local and regional access to trucks on demand,” Lewis told GeekWire last year.
Convoy aims to become an "Uber for trucking" and recently struck its biggest deal yet, with consumer goods giant Unilever NV.
Related: Why the Tech Giants are Focusing on Trucks & Ships