8VC, the San Francisco-based venture capital firm whose portfolio includes a freight tech practice, announced that Justin Hall had joined the firm as executive in residence, a full-time position. Hall was previously the chief customer officer at less-than-truckload carrier YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ: YRCW).
8VC's transportation and logistics portfolio companies include Azevtec, The Boring Company, Deliverr, Flexport, FreightWaves, HDVI, Joby Aviation, Platform Science, project44, Trackonomy and Vector.
Jake Medwell, the founding partner at 8VC overseeing the firm's freight tech investments, explained that Hall would work directly with him and the relevant portfolio companies on vision, business development, hiring and other areas.
Prior to YRC Worldwide, Hall served as the president of Logistics Planning Services, a boutique transformation management and software company that was ultimately acquired by GlobalTranz in 2017.
"We've looked for a long time to find the right person for this role, and we're very excited to have Justin join the team," Medwell said.
Hall's involvement in YRC's digital transformation, and specifically his experience in helping legacy transportation companies make decisions about and implement technology, will be a valuable asset to early stage startups looking for product-market fit.
"Justin both understands technology and what's happening and what's being built, as well as understanding how incumbent transport and logistics companies actually function," Medwell explained. "Not many people really understand that."
Medwell said that 8VC's view of the transport and logistics space includes theses on both a macro and micro level, and that bringing an operator in full-time would give the firm's partners and portfolio companies insights from a new angle. 8VC already retains industry practitioners Shaleen Devgun, executive vice president and chief information officer at Schneider (NYSE: SNDR), and Alan Gershenhorn, a long-time UPS Inc (NYSE: UPS) executive, as advisors.
"Over my last decade in supply chain, I've witnessed venture capital become a growing force in logistics technology," Hall said. "8VC is leading this charge and has become fully integrated into the industry. Having worked in both tech enabled third-party-logistics and asset-based trucking, I'm excited to serve our portfolio companies while driving shareholder value."
"8VC has partnered with some of the largest companies including Daimler, Prologis and Schneider and brought in leading executives as advisors across the platform and investors in the fund," Hall said. "Their deep expertise is clearly shown by their portfolio as they continue to be the force behind many of the fastest growing companies in logistics technology."
Medwell reflected on the evolution of the freight tech venture capital space, which he estimated was just "in the third inning, and it's a really good game." Every year there's a new trend, Medwell said, and many venture capital firms jump on the bandwagon and follow the herd.
"There's a lot of venture money chasing the wrong type of deals," Medwell said. "The things we need to be focusing on are new, unique pieces that can't just be replicated. Who is actually building something unique and different, and what can people do now that wasn't possible five or six years ago?"
It's still fairly early for freight tech: only a small group of companies have raised large rounds and crossed the billion-dollar valuation mark, but there's a second wave coming right behind them, Medwell said. Meanwhile, large companies have realized that they must innovate or fail, and are taking it upon themselves to work with entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. Finally, the "elephant in the room is Amazon," Medwell said, which is forcing companies in the space to actively embrace innovation.
"Large corporations are more open to new technology, and the space is developing much more rapidly," Medwell concluded.
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