Growth Rate (y/y)
Convoy made $750M in 2021, growing 50% annually. It is expected to make $1B in 2022, growing 35% annually since 2018, while the North American logistics market grew by 20% in the same period. Convoy makes money by taking a cut from the transaction between the shipper and the trucking company. However, instead of charging a fixed percentage, it creates a price arbitrage between what a shipper is willing to pay and what a carrier expects as a fee and keeps the difference. Convoy mentions that it’s profitable on a per-transaction basis. It has a network of 400,000 trucks, and its enterprise customers include Home Depot, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Anheuser-Busch.
Note: Size of the bubble indicates valuation.
Convoy has raised $930M from T. Rowe Price, Greylock, Baillie Gifford, and Y Combinator. Its last private valuation was $3.8B, with a 2021 revenue multiple of 5x, while publicly traded trucking companies have lower revenue multiples, with C.H. Robinson at 0.5x, J.B.Hunt at 1.5x, and Schneider at 0.8x.
Trucking stocks peaked in 2021 as COVID-related supply chain disruption led to a huge price rise but have lost significant value since then. The Dow Jones Transportation Average, which tracks 20 large US logistics companies, hit an all-time high of 16,733 on Nov 4, 2021, but is down 20% since then, compared with a 17% decline in S&P 500 over the same period.
The US trucking market is worth $800B with 100k+ shippers and 1M carriers, of which 95% have less than 10 trucks. This makes it difficult for shippers to find carriers directly, and they rely on 17,000+ brokers to match loads with carriers who charge 15% to 20% per transaction.
The matchmaking is manual and effort-intensive, with an army of reps at these brokers calling/emailing carriers for each new load, spending up to 4 hours on every transaction. Furthermore, brokers are incentivized to maximize their margins rather than make efficient routes, resulting in 35% of miles driven back by trucks without freight, with a loss of $10B annually.
Convoy’s core thesis is to replace this inefficient manual matchmaking with algorithmic matchmaking. Once shippers list their freight on Convoy, its pricing algorithm shows them a price estimate for the freight and then runs an auction on the carrier side, composed mainly of the long-tail, for them to accept the freight at a lower price, with Convoy keeping the spread on the transaction as its revenue. Convoy mentions that 100% of matching in its top markets is automated, with a matching time of a few minutes.
By replacing reps with algorithms, Convoy operates at lower costs allowing it to take a lower take rate than traditional brokers, leverage this low fee to attract shippers, and use the increased load volume to sign up more carriers, creating a flywheel effect. We expect Convoy to operate at a gross margin of less than 10%, like Transfix (gross margin: 6.4%) and Uber Freight (operating margin: 0.1%), as the bulk of its revenue comes from enterprise shippers who offer take rates of less than 5%.
Convoy found an initial product-market fit by signing up the top 10% high-volume routes of two large enterprise shippers and using this demand to aggregate trucking companies operating on those routes. As the supply of trucking companies grew, Convoy signed up other large shippers on those routes and then expanded outwards to more shippers nationwide.
Shippers can add new loads to Convoy through their portal (primarily used by SMBs) or by integrating it with their transport management software (used mostly by enterprise shippers). Shippers also get a dashboard to track their orders live, see ETAs, get delay alerts and run analytics on historical data.
For carriers, besides a mobile app where they bid on the loads, Convoy also provides a mini SaaS that lets them manage their operations better. This includes uploading invoices and other delivery-related documents, receiving payments and keeping track of past payments, tracking the live location of their fleet, and route planning. Convoy pings the GPS in truckers’ phones through its app to get their live location. Carriers also get a fuel card that gets them discounts at certain gas stations and deals on used trucks/trailers, roadside assistance, and spare parts.
Convoy operates in a fragmented market and competes with companies that operate owned trucks like DB Schenker ($23B) and Schneider ($4.3B), large traditional brokers like C.H. Robinson ($10.9B) and J.B. Hunt ($18.4B), digital marketplaces like Uber Freight ($3.5B) and Transfix ($1.1B), and the long-tail of SMB brokers that form the bulk of 17,000+ brokers in the US.
Uber Freight is the largest trucking digital marketplace by revenue, grossing $2.1B in 2021. It grew ~3x from 2018 to 2020 by offering enterprise customers take rates as low as 1%, undercutting its competitors.
Large incumbent brokers are digitizing their operations in response to Convoy and Uber Freight. For instance, C.H. Robinson booked $875M through its app/portal in 2021, up ~200% annually. However, it's a very small part of their revenue (less than 5%), and they struggle to attract high-quality engineering and product talent due to their legacy roots.
On the other hand, SMB brokers don't have the talent or money to digitize their operations and are at risk of being replaced by digital marketplaces. Convoy is the only digital marketplace that lets brokers list their loads on its platform and use its SaaS for matchmaking, competing with newer startups like MVMNT (raised $24.5M; backed by A16Z) that offer back-office SaaS to SMB brokers.
With less than 1% of the US trucking market, Convoy has a lot of growth headroom as a marketplace. In parallel, it’s evolving from a marketplace into a vertical SaaS for brokers/truckers with embedded financial services to capture additional revenue beyond the direct spending on freight movement.
In November 2021, Convoy launched Convoy for Brokers, allowing brokers to post their loads through Convoy’s portal. Brokers get access to Convoy's portal as a SaaS for finding carriers, invoicing, and payments. Convoy gets the benefit of additional load for its carriers, access to data for shipping routes managed by these brokers, and incremental revenue by capturing net new transactions. Convoy can layer more products and create a ‘Toast for brokers’ that helps them better manage their operations.
Convoy offers basic financial services like a fuel card and invoice factoring with free same or next-day payment to carriers and recently added a paid Quick Pay service to get the payment in 8 hours at a 1.5% transaction fee. Like other contractor management portals such as Deel and Upwork, Convoy can layer more financial services such as an Uber-like debit card, insurance, and working capital loans to the carriers.
Lack of profitability
By starting with enterprise shippers to build demand and attract carriers to its platform, Convoy compromised on its take rate and settled for low margins. In the current funding scenario, with a sharp focus on profitability, this can become a challenge in raising future funds.
Convoy got a shot in the arm in 2021, as COVID strained the supply chain and even the largest truckers were running out of trucks, forcing enterprise shippers to shift their loads to digital marketplaces like Convoy to access the long-tail of carriers to ship their load. With COVID waning, the traditional shippers are getting surplus capacity, which can push the enterprise players away from digital marketplaces.
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