8VC, the venture capital fund dedicated to solving real-world problems through industry transformation, announced Alan Gershenhorn, former Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of United Parcel Service, Inc., (NYSE: UPS), has joined the firm as an advisor. Gershenhorn will lend his expertise as a global transportation and logistics leader to 8VC’s portfolio companies, which include Alloy, Boom, Deliverr, FreightWaves, Joby Aviation, LoadDocs, Platform Science, project44, Trackonomy, and Vector.
Gershenhorn started at UPS in 1979 and saw Big Brown grow from a $3B American parcel carrier to a $65B global logistics and supply chain leader through a series of strategic and technological transformations. As EVP and CCO, Gershenhorn’s responsibilities included strategy, marketing, M&A, sales, e-commerce, product development, government affairs, and key growth strategies. Notably, Gershenhorn oversaw the acquisition, integration, and ongoing operation of Coyote Logistics. FreightWaves spoke to Gershenhorn and Jake Medwell, founding partner at 8VC, by phone.
“Earlier this year, Alan attended our logistics summit, where we invite fifteen of the most respected executives in global logistics and a handful of the top startup CEOs—that’s when Alan and I got to know each other,” Medwell recalled. “Upon his retirement at UPS, we had the conversation about him coming on board as an advisor to our firm. There’s really only a handful of executives in the logistics space who really understand technology and understand how it will impact the world and the market. It’s clear from Alan’s work at UPS that he’s one of that elite few, and he’s proven himself time and time again.
“This move is really a continuation of my passion,” Gershenhorn said. “There is so much opportunity in the logistics space to transform it with better uses of technology, extant and still to be developed, by taking inefficiencies out of the supply chain and providing a better customer experience.”
Gershenhorn said that he was excited to get the invitation to 8VC’s hyper-exclusive logistics summit, held at a private vineyard in Napa, where he got to spend about 48 hours with Medwell and other logistics luminaries.
“I felt like my experience and expertise could help them, and at the same time I was able to learn a lot and see new opportunities. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s going on in the space,” Gershenhorn said.
We asked Gershenhorn to narrate the process of acquiring Coyote from his perspective because we were interested in how his M&A experience could be additive for 8VC. Gershenhorn pointed out that small package is almost a niche compared to the whole logistics market, a fruitful and profitable niche, but the truckload market is the largest market in the world.
“Interestingly enough, truckload was the one market we didn’t play in,” Gershenhorn said. Fragmentation—the long tail of tiny shippers and carriers—made tech-enabled brokerage the spot to be in, UPS determined.
“As we landscaped the market, we saw that Coyote served as a leader, not only with scale but also how it was approaching the market. We worked very closely with Jeff Silver and his team, and it became largest acquisition we ever made,” Gershenhorn said.
Coyote was the largest acquisition UPS ever made, Gershenhorn said, because it normally bought much smaller companies and helped them strategize, go to market, and scale. Gershenhorn’s expertise and value proposition to 8VC came into focus in that part of the conversation: not only did he spend a career in transportation and logistics, but he’s spent years incubating new businesses, advising on everything from strategy to product development.
At 8VC, Gershenhorn wants to help startups prioritize and bring concepts to reality. Ideas are usually not hard to come by in a startup, but planning, execution, and developing processes to solve problems requires a certain level of sophistication and experience from the management team.
“I really enjoy the freelancing aspect—to be able to be asked by a startup to focus on a particular area, whether it’s strategy or helping work with a particular customer or crafting a growth plan,” Gershenhorn concluded.