FreightWaves turns three this week, an important milestone for our startup. Most startups don’t make it past the two-year mark and even fewer achieve a fraction of the success dreamed about by the founder.
FreightWaves ended the fourth quarter of 2019 with $5 million in quarterly revenue, up from $2 million in quarterly revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, a growth rate of 250%. The company’s recurring revenue grew by nearly 1,000% in the fourth quarter and over 1,800% for the year.
FreightWaves media business continues to scale
Today, FreightWaves is the largest provider of news, market data and context for the freight market. For audience and revenue, we compete against a number of high quality publishers across the space. Our largest media competitors include Transport Topics, JOC, Logistics Management, Trucking Info, CCJ, Fleet Owner, Overdrive and Supply Chain Dive.
Collectively, the sites listed above, including FreightWaves, received 3.2 million unique visitors in January. Over 1.8 million of those visitors went to FreightWaves.com, giving the site over 58% of the audience focused on the North American freight market. Even in Canada, where FreightWaves currently has one reporter, we get twice as much traffic as the largest domestic freight news site.
More importantly, we measure the quality of engagement based on how long readers stay on our site. A reader who visits FreightWaves.com averaged 3:18 minutes, the longest of any site in our competitive universe. According to Alexa.com, all other media sites in freight range from 1:33 minutes on site to 2:33 per visit.
We continued our investment in audio offerings. FreightWaves Radio, our weekly show on Sirius XM subscription radio, just turned a year old. Our library of podcasts, which includes WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, Great Quarter, Guys and Put That Coffee Down, have all grown and enjoy significant audiences. FreightCasts, our compilation of the various FreightWaves podcast offerings, is now ranked in the top 50 of all business news podcasts in the U.S.
Last year, we launched FreightWaves TV, the first over the top streaming TV network dedicated to freight news and content. We currently have 12 scheduled programs on FreightWaves TV.
FreightWaves TV received more than 1 million views last week. Our most engaged audience (the 35,000 that watch FWTV each day) tuned in for 31 minutes per day, on average. The FreightWaves TV audience is approximately the same size as ESPNU gets in total-day viewership. Because the audience tuning into FreightWaves TV are from the industry, we believe this is a very powerful information resource for our industry and the most powerful channel for advertisers to reach decision-makers.
Daily, we receive photos of freight brokerage floors that have switched to FreightWaves TV as the default TV network in their office, replacing CNBC, Fox News, CNN or ESPN.
Our growth will continue across our various formats. A few months ago, we made a change in our model, which took our content from siloed coverage and seperate teams and started to cover stories across mediums. The team that develops our editorial coverage on the website now reports to Emily Szink, who also oversees our audio and TV content. This enables our audience to engage across platforms. Recent coverage of Celadon’s bankruptcy, Truckstop’s malware attack, AB 5 and coronavirus are examples of how we use the various resources to engage across platforms.
Last July we acquired American Shipper. This gave us access to a different audience and differentiated content from FreightWaves.com. American Shipper had been primarily serving the beneficial cargo owner and global shipper communities. When we purchased it, American Shipper was getting around 15,000 unique visitors per week. At the end of 2019, weekly visitors to American Shipper had grown to 60,000. Last week, American Shipper had its biggest week ever with over 70,000 unique visitors.
Even time on site for American Shipper went from an average of 1:30 minutes before we purchased it to 2:41 minutes last week, a testament to how the FreightWaves editorial process is driving deeper engagement with this differentiated audience.
FreightWaves launched Passport Research in mid-January, our executive-level subscription research product which has been described as Gartner + Forrester for freight. It is the most successful product we have ever launched. We are expecting over 600 research subscribers by the end of the year.
Events are “the CES of Freight”
Our events, FreightWaves LIVE, also had a stellar year. We hosted two major FreightWaves LIVE events in 2019, one in Atlanta and one in Chicago. We had 1,175 attendees in Atlanta and 1,529 at our fall event in Chicago.
Morgan Stanley calls FreightWaves LIVE the “CES of Freight.” If you have attended one, you know why.
FreightWaves LIVE is scheduled to be back in Atlanta this May. It is on track to be bigger than the Chicago event we hosted in November.
When we survey our attendees, we find that they love the fresh approach we take to our events. Our demo format is our most popular feature, along with bringing some of the top thought leaders in for keynotes and fireside chats. Tech vendors love getting access to the decision-makers at the companies they are targeting and technology buyers love it because they get access to thought leadership and get first-hand experience with new technology.
Our software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, SONAR and StakUp, currently service more than 370 clients, which include medium and large third-party logistics providers (3PLs) and truckload carriers.
We have seen a recent uptick in the number of new client subscriptions, as they take advantage of our rate forecasting and benchmarking product. StakUp is also adding clients at an increasingly fast clip, as truckload fleets want to benchmark their performance against competitors in the market.
Currently, SONAR is adding 20+ new large enterprise logos a month and StakUp is adding around 10 new benchmarking fleets per month. This is up from 8 enterprise deals a year ago. StakUp provides the deepest data tracking in the truckload space, representing over 70,000 for-hire OTR trucks.
Outlook for 2020
Looking forward, we are excited about scaling FreightWaves and offering deeper insights into the freight market. We are focused on building on our coverage of major topics and issues that freight market participants face in their operations, while making the data we have assembled in SONAR more predictive and actionable for our audience.
2020 will be an interesting year for everyone in the freight business. We expect venture funds to increase pressure on their portfolio companies to focus on unit-level economics and focus on projects that build strong recurring revenues. We also expect more restructuring in the truckload market and even some real pressure among 3PLs.
I am optimistic about the future and very excited about what it holds for FreightWaves and the industry.