Today, Prologis Ventures, Prologis’ corporate venture capital fund, announced the launch of their website. The site showcases Prologis Ventures as one of the leading innovation accelerators in the logistics space and demonstrates the team’s focus on driving the future of commerce through investments in emerging technologies.
Prologis Ventures’ investment strategy centers on addressing Prologis customers' most critical pain points in supply chain and transportation, digital buildings and infrastructure, and real estate and construction. The team invests in Series A through Growth Stage companies focused on best-in-class solutions across our strategic areas of focus.
Prologis’ Corporate Communications team spoke with Will O’Donnell, Prologis Ventures’ managing partner, about the team’s major achievements in 2020 and the technology trends shaping the future. See below for the Q&A:
Congratulations on launching the website and the amazing year for Prologis Ventures! For those who may not be familiar, could you provide an introduction to the team and your unique place in the ventures ecosystem?
Prologis Ventures invests in next-generation logistics and built world technology companies that are defining the future of commerce. We are focused on solving Prologis customers' most critical pain points, including partnering with them to drive operational efficiencies in areas such as labor, transportation, warehouse operations, and energy. Since our founding in 2016, we have made 27 direct investments and two fund investments.
Our team brings experience from supply chain operations and venture capital backgrounds to invest in leading-edge technology that supports Prologis and our customers while also sparking innovation across our global business.
What do you see as the team’s biggest accomplishments in 2020?
In 2020, our team focused on expanding our leadership position in the ecosystem of investors, technology providers and customers focused on logistics and real estate. One of Prologis Ventures’ main areas of emphasis this past year, and an ongoing focus in 2021, is to continue expanding these relationships to drive transformative technologies across our industry. We are building out ecosystems that focus on complex areas that are significant pain points involving automation, transportation, labor, Smart Building, EV charging and urban fulfillment as examples.
We are also excited about being part of our company-wide Digital Transformation Acceleration effort which kicked off last year. The initiative is focused on leveraging the lessons learned during the pandemic to improve operational efficiency through the adoption of scalable software solutions. We have been working internally to stand up our in-region innovation capabilities, and are starting to see transformational offerings that help Prologis and our customers create value in new ways.
What are some of the most exciting things that Prologis Ventures portfolio companies are working on?
Two of the biggest pain points in the industry are labor and transportation. Hiring, retaining, training, safety and enhancing productivity are key themes within our labor investment thesis. As part of our transportation thesis, we invest in software and hardware-enabled SaaS solutions that improve efficiency, increase visibility and reduce cost across our customers’ and their partners’ operations.
Here are a few examples to give you a sense of how we’ve invested around these key areas:
- WorkStep is a career placement and growth platform for hourly workers at companies in warehousing, trucking and production, and provides analytics to address labor shortages.
- Strivr is an immersive learning platform that increases engagement among employees as they learn by doing through a combination of VR and advanced analytics.
- Kinetic is a smart wearable and analytics platform that reinforces safe ergonomics among front-line logistics workers.
- Locus develops autonomous mobile robots that collaborate with human workers to improve productivity and simplify warehouse operations.
- Outrider is a yard automation company that develops autonomous driving technology for electric yard trucks and the corresponding operating system to maximize the efficiency of yard operations.
- FreightWaves is a data and content company that provides analytics on the state of the freight market along with tools to act on the insights.
- Platform Science is a next-generation hardware and software platform for trucking fleet management that increases performance, streamlines compliance tasks, improves time management, savings and driver satisfaction.
- Wise Systems builds autonomous dispatch and routing software with machine learning to continuously improve fleet efficiency & performance.
- Baton is a logistics platform that reduces dwell time for carriers through a network of drop zones.
Additionally, we are collaborating with our Japan team on the following investments:
- Timee is an on-demand staffing platform that connects businesses with available workers in real time, enabling them to dynamically scale their labor requirements to meet customer demand.
- Kurando is a logistics operational IT solution provider that helps users improve productivity, resource planning and profitability in their warehousing operations.
How was Ventures’ investment strategy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, if at all?
Over the past year, it was critical that our investment strategy address both the immediate needs of the pandemic, as well as a value proposition beyond social distancing. The stay-at-home economy has certainly accelerated e-commerce adoption, and we are continuing to see increased spend on automation across our customer base to meet sky-high demand. The rate of e-commerce adoption that was expected to take place over years was in fact compressed in the last nine months.
That being said, our long-term investment strategy has not changed since the onset of the pandemic. We remain focused on our three core areas of supply chain and transportation, digital buildings and infrastructure, and real estate and construction.
What are the logistics industry trends on the horizon that you are most excited about?
In 2021, we will continue to execute on our focused thesis investment approach targeting disruptive business models, emerging technologies and near and long-term strategic opportunities. We believe we are at a crossroads with respect to accelerated investment in transformational technologies and increased implementation by our customers both inside and outside of the warehouse. We will continue to see investments in areas such as automation, transportation, labor, urban fulfillment, and other areas that address major paint points. A few emerging areas that we are very excited about are sustainable solutions, fintech and smart infrastructure.