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Ryder buys logistics tech startup Baton, which it had invested in previously

San Francisco-based company’s product focuses on reducing detention times

Ryder is acquiring Baton, a company it had already invested in through its Ryder Ventures arm that targets giving the fleet rental and supply chain management giant a stake into logistics-focused startups.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, Ryder (NYSE: R) said it invested in Baton early in 2021. The acquisition of the full company was closed Aug. 31.

Ryder declined to answer further questions about the deal.

Late last year, Baton co-founder Andrew Berberick, in an interview with FreightWaves, gave an overview of one of the company’s key initiatives, which involved not just development of a software product but also truck “relay yards” outside Phoenix and Los Angeles to serve as intermediary stops in the delivery of freight to those cities. 

As Berberick described it, the Baton test involved a control group that moved freight between Phoenix and Los Angeles using normal practices. The second group used a relay yard in Commerce, California. Full deliveries coming in and out of the two cities testing the system would drop and hook in Commerce. Freight coming out of Los Angeles headed toward Phoenix, or vice versa, would have local drivers complete the final miles between Commerce and the Los Angeles destinations, whether they were incoming or outgoing.

“We’re enabling the [test drivers] to stage loads, saving the eight-plus hours that they would have incurred waiting for an appointment, waiting in detention, etc.,” Berberick said.  

Baton’s website touts on its home page: “No more detention. We stage your pickups and deliveries at our 24/7 drop yards. Your drivers are in and out of the city in 15 minutes.”

But in June, Baton laid off 25% of its workforce and said it was focusing more on Radius, its AI  transportation management system. However, it still retained its Los Angeles-area carrier network and was looking at ways to leverage it going forward.

“What we are finding is that when showing a demo of the software, shippers and carriers would see how game changing it was and would ask to use it to power their own fleet,” Berberick said.

Besides Ryder, among the previous investors in Baton were Prologis Ventures, Lineage Logistics and angel investors Jett McCandless, Shoaib Makani and John Larkin.

In its statement, Ryder CEO Robert Sanchez called the acquisition “consistent with our strategic focus to continue to grow our supply chain and transportation solutions businesses, and part of that strategy is to bring new technology-driven solutions to market.”

The statement also said Berberick and fellow co-founder Nate Robert would move to Ryder as co-chief product and technology officers for the company’s supply chain solutions and dedicated transportation solutions segments. The key truck and equipment leasing segment at Ryder is fleet management solutions.

In a quarterly earnings call with analysts last year, Sanchez discussed Ryder Ventures, the company arm that made the investment in Baton. He termed it a “corporate venture capital fund” and said its goal was to invest $50 million over the next five years in startups “primarily where we can partner to develop new products and services for our customers.”

As reported earlier, Baton has raised $13.8 million since its founding in 2019. The bulk of that came in a Series A fundraising of $10.5 million in March 2021, when Ryder made its initial investment.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.