U.S. logistics technology provider project44 said today it has acquired Danish firm GateHouse Logistics, which had been its European partner, in a move that project44 said will create the largest order and shipment visibility platform spanning North America and Europe.
The transaction, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is Chicago-based project44’s first acquisition since its launch in 2014. The company said in a statement announcing the deal that it “will speed the “development and implementation of visibility programs” around the world. In transport, logistics, and supply chain management, visibility is defined as a real-time view of all aspects of a supply chain from initial order to final delivery. Using visibility tools, businesses can get a comprehensive view of how their supply chains are working and problem areas that need to be addressed.
All GateHouse solutions have been integrated into the project44 “Advanced Visibility Platform,” according to the company. Current GateHouse offerings will continue to be supported, and all employees will become employees of project44, it said. Former GateHouse CEO Jesper Bennike has been named project44’s executive vice president of business development.
In a phone interview today from Denmark, Jett McCandless, project44’s founder and CEO, said the move doesn’t augur the start of an acquisition spree for the company, which has attracted about $90 million in venture capital since its founding. Rather, the acquisition should be viewed as an “opportunistic, one-off” move involving a world-class visibility provider. GateHouse is a “really unique asset,” McCandless said.
Based in Allborg in northern Denmark, GateHouse employees are, in aggregate, conversant in 13 languages. The company also has relationships with 463 telematics providers, a figure McCandless calls “unbelievable.” It counts amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) as a customer, which may be the ultimate seal of approval since the Seattle e-tailing titan rarely, if ever, buys technology, and preferring instead to build its platforms.
Providers with visibility capabilities are active in either North America or Europe but have difficulty extending across both regions due to divergent industry characteristics, technology options and carrier needs, project44 said in the statement. The company’s customer base has an international presence, and wants technology to deliver global visibility, said McCandless. They also “just want one throat to choke” in the event a problem arises, he added.
A survey published late last month by consultancy Gartner Inc. found that tools to strengthen “visibility and transparency” across the supply chain were businesses’ top priority in 2017. The survey was conducted between November 2017 and February 2018 with 303 respondents, Gartner said.
The lack of real-time visibility “creates internal and external inefficiencies in warehousing, fleet, yard and transportation operations both inbound and outbound, and leads to an increase in transportation costs,” Gartner wrote. Conversely, shippers that leverage visibility tools to build efficiencies across their supply chains can become a “shipper of choice” and have an easier time securing capacity in a tight supply market, Gartner wrote.
Project44 specializes in the “one-to-many” communications model embodied in its Application Programming Interface tool, commonly known as API. By being the backbone connecting a customer with all carriers through one set of pipes, API promises a speed and depth of data flow and integration never available before in transportation, its advocates contend.
The company started by connecting shippers with less-than-truckload carriers. It has since expanded to encompass truckload, intermodal, parcel and ocean freight services. It supports small-package transactions in Africa, Asia, and Australia. McCandless said the company will be working across all modes in Asia by the end of the year.