Start-up Flexport raises $110M as Amazon pushes into its market

Key Points
  • Logistics start-up Flexport raised $110 million in a new funding round.
  • The company is preparing to compete long-term with companies such as Amazon.
Competing with Amazon on distribution

Silicon Valley start-up and logistics darling Flexport is closing a $110 million funding round, valuing it at $910 million.

Backers in this round include Yuri Milner's DST, Peter Thiel's Founder's Fund and Wells Fargo. It also counts Google Ventures — now GV — among its earliest investors.

Flexport sits right within the delivery space that rival Amazon is investing heavily in. In a blog post, Flexport says they raised this round because they're "doubling down."

When companies do not want to rely on Amazon's logistics pipeline for international freight forwarding, they turn to Flexport, which takes care of the process and handles sensitive customs information — even if that means getting products to an FBA, or "fulfilled by Amazon," hub.

Its 1,800 customers include some of the buzziest new names in e-commerce, including Warby Parker, Casper, Allbirds and the Honest Company.

"I think there's a lot of hesitancy to turn over sensitive data," says Ryan Petersen, founder and CEO of Flexport. "Although Amazon may not make glasses today, who knows tomorrow? And if you're Warby Parker, do you want to trust them with the names of all your factories and what you're paying for everything? I'd be hesitant."

Over the last year alone, Amazon has pushed further into its own private label clothing, groceries, advertising and devices, among other businesses. And there are reports that the e-commerce giant is eyeing the furniture, home appliance and pharmaceuticals markets. The list can seem endless — and daunting for up-and-coming brands thinking about handing over sensitive data to Amazon in the international shipping process.

That's where Flexport comes in, and it's a big part of the reason it's had success raising money to play in a market where Amazon is just getting started.

"The largest freight forwarder in the world has a 2 percent market share in a trillion-dollar market," Petersen adds. "And global trade grows by 3 percent a year. So even if Amazon becomes the biggest freight forwarder in the world, I think there will be room for others."

As for his own IPO plans — Petersen says he wouldn't shy away from going public, even as other private companies stay private for longer.

"Long term, being public gives you a currency to go to M&A, and hire people. You can't have people forever wanting to get paid in the future — investors or employees," he said.

"It also sends a signal to the world that we're here to stay," he said.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Ryan Petersen's name and the amount of the company's valuation.

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