Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, pictured on September 13, 2018.
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Jeff Bezos is investing in U.K. digital freight forwarding and supply chain finance firm Beacon, the firm announced Monday.
The Amazon CEO and world’s richest man is taking part in a Series A fundraising round worth $15 million for the British startup.
Freight forwarding is a trillion dollar industry, and Beacon aims to act as the booking agents between importers and exporters while facilitating trade logistics and finance through the use of AI, search optimization, data science, cloud and automation technologies, its website says.
Based in London and founded in 2018, Beacon’s investors already include executives from Uber, Google and Amazon, according to its site. Its chief technology officer, Pierre Martin, was formerly head of software engineering for Amazon’s package and freight transport technology.
“The traditional freight forwarder model remains surprisingly analogue, using systems and processes that are slow and inefficient, with opaque pricing and limited use of technology,” Beacon CEO Fraser Robinson said in a press release Monday.
“Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarder market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product.”
The company also takes on the issue of cash flow for importers — suppliers often demand payment before goods have shipped, making for cash crunches given long shipping periods for goods. Beacon says it offers “qualifying finance” within 72 hours, allowing greater flexibility to its customers.
The backing from Bezos, who has invested in numerous startups, would be a major boost for the company in its stated mission to be a global leader in logistics and trade finance.
Bezos himself owns a 12% stake in Amazon. The global e-commerce and cloud software giant is in regular competition with technology hegemons Apple, Microsoft, and Google parent Alphabet for the title of the world’s most highly-valued public company.
Amazon’s market cap at the close of trading on Friday was $1.215 trillion.