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Cheetah acquisition rounds out MercuryGate offerings, co-founder says

Cheetah’s strong `street-level’ logistics technology fills hole in MercuryGate net, Blough says

Transportation management systems (TMS) provider MercuryGate International Inc.’s acquisition of logistics software company Cheetah Software Systems rounds out MercuryGate’s portfolio by integrating Cheetah’s strong final-mile logistics technology capabilities, MercuryGate’s co-founder said Wednesday.

The transaction, which was completed March 31 but not disclosed until Tuesday, will provide MercuryGate with “street-level” planning software that will embed with the company’s well-established TMS, said Steve Blough, who is also MercuryGate’s chief innovation officer. Cary, North Carolina-based MercuryGate had for years been one of the few TMSs to include a parcel optimization application to accompany its LTL and truckload functions. 

TMSs allow shippers, third-party logistics providers and their partners to manage an array of functions from load planning to delivery to modal selection. With a TMS, users can compare routes, carriers and modal options to generate the most bang for their transportation budget.

Cheetah, based in Westlake Village, California, enables MercuryGate to extend its customers’ delivery experience to the “street level,” Blough said in a telephone interview Wednesday. MercuryGate had in-house last-mile capabilities, but they didn’t match those of Cheetah, Blough said. With the Cheetah system, “we can now handle all aspects” of customers’ moves, he said.

The explosive growth of e-commerce fulfillment has put a premium on user-friendly technology that can navigate the increasingly complex delivery process linking retailer, carrier, logistics provider and the end customer. The last-mile segment can be frustrating to choreograph because it involves knowledge of the local carrier market, an ability to change routings on the fly, and the capability of handling returns. 

The pressure is amplified by the elevated delivery demands of end customers used to receiving their shipments quickly and hassle-free, and to track shipments’ status in real time from start to finish. Third-party providers, in particular, have been flummoxed by the peculiarities of the last-mile segment, with some unwilling to participate because they haven’t cracked the profit-making code. Most 3PLs are being pushed hard by their retailer customers to develop solutions because retailers can’t afford to stay out of the category.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Both companies are privately held. MercuryGate was acquired in 2018 by private equity firm Summit Partners for a rumored $390 million.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.