All posts by Dejan Bizinger

Rakuten invested 25m EUR in Glovo?

There are some rumours that the Asian ecommerce giant Rakuten with other investors have invested 25m euros in Barcelona-based delivery app Glovo.  Both companies haven’t officially confirmed the investment. Previous big round of 5m euros Glovo raised in August 2016.On-demand delivery app GlovoGlovo is on-demand delivery app which enables that users get items they ordered in less than 1h via self-employed partners called Glovers. Company has been founded in 2015. in Barcelona and is often featured on the list of most promising Spanish apps.  Glovo is currently present in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Sevilla, Malaga, Milan, Rome and Paris but they will certainly add more cities in the nearest future. In Barcelona and Madrid they operate 24h. 

Rakuten FC Barcelona jersey sponsorship

Rakuten is one of the world’s biggest Internet companies, especially dominant in Asian e-commerce sector. In other parts of the world, for example in Europe, many non-tech people have first time heard about Rakuten when they became jersey sponsor of FC Barcelona. Some other notable investments and acquisitions of Rakuten include Viber, Priceminister etc.

Interview with Dr. Zvi Schreiber, CEO of Freightos

After a longer hiatus, we are back! Sorry for this delay, but we can promise you that from now on you can expect from us regular updates from the region of Southern and Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa (SEEMEA) with the focus on interviews with people who lead companies which have been established or have connection with this fantastic and emerging region.

We have that pleasure that the first, in the series of interviews, is with Dr. Zvi Schreiber, CEO of Freightos. Freightos is creating an international online freight marketplace and freight automation technology making global shipping easier.  With the headquarter in Jerusalem, they offer one of the leading global  SaaS called Freightos AcceleRate for logistics companies. So far they have raised 55.9m USD.

After several companies and exits you have decided to launch an online freight marketplace. What was the reason which influenced your decision to launch Freightos?

Zvi Screiber Freightos CEOThe core driver was my own personal pain with the import/export process. It was through some trial and error (but mostly error) in importing goods from China to the US and EU in a previous company that I understood just how sorely the freight industry needed an upgrade – it used to take us upwards of 72 hours just to get a single freight quote.  Global trade, worth $19 trillion and absolutely integral to nearly everything we consume, has remained virtually untouched by technology. I decided to change this by founding Freightos.

Freight forwarders and carriers

Freightos helps freight forwarders, carriers, importers and exporters. Do freight forwarders (or anyone else) have ever perceived you as enemies or competitors for their old-school way of doing business, frenemies similar like OTA-hotels or taxi companies-ride-hailing apps relations, or you haven’t experienced such obstacles and they all perceive you as partner that will help grow their businesses?

Change is always difficult and there will always be companies that are averse to evolution. However most forwarders now understand that the industry is changing and recognize Freightos as a lifeboat. A new generation of tech-enabled forwarders are emerging and targeting current forwarder markets; Freightos provides leading forwarders with the digital tools they need to better service their customers, as well as access to on-demand global freight index data. As a result, over one thousand forwarders work with us to automate freight sales. On the Freightos marketplace, we actually serve as another means to drive sales for freight forwarders. As an example, one of our smaller forwarders recently hit the one million dollars mark in online sales, a sizeable achievement for a small business.

Online freight software

What is the value proposition of Freightos you are most proud of?

We are tremendously proud our efforts to move global trade online, and particularly with last year’s launch of the online freight marketplace. Global trade has been the driving force of the economy from the time of ancient civilizations through today and many see it as a major contributor to world peace; it’s now time for it to join the Netflix and Amazon generation. The transparency and accessibility provided to small and midsize importers is a huge value and one that we’re incredibly proud of.

Freightos Marketplace Index

You offer rates for all type of shipments, so for land, ocean and air. Which area has the biggest demand on your platform and which one has the biggest growth?

International importing and exporting, especially among smaller and midsize businesses is on the rise. Air and ocean certainly drive the majority of our bookings with more shipments by ocean but more spend on air. Trucking, especially in the US, has had a head-start on automation, so our real differentiation is on the international air and ocean side.

You connect forwarders and carriers on one side and importers and exporters on the other side. Do you feel that Freightos is at the moment more popular by the representatives of one side and that you need to improve the interest of other side or you are satisfied with the activities of the all key stakeholders? What has been more challenging for you – to increase the demand or supply?

The trick about marketplaces is balancing both supply and demand. Since we’ve spent five years creating technology that helps freight forwarders stay relevant in a changing world, we already have a strong supply side and now at the stage of aggressively ramping up demand. Of course, more demand translates into even more forwarders interested in selling on our marketplace so the balancing act never really ends. That said, our core focus today is scaling up increasingly larger marketplace buyers.

FreightosWe are witnesses that on-demand platforms are usually very-well funded in order to achieve their global goals. Do you think that online freight marketplace is a winner-takes-all business, or that there will be place for several platforms like yours, or you believe that in the years that come many of the current providers will also remain in the business?

International freight is one of largest markets in the world so there is room for a handful of winners. In the air travel world, there are dozens of major OTAs and online booking sites that are successful have valued in the billions. That said, international freight is much more complex with bigger barriers to competitors. The Freightos Marketplace is uniquely positioned, given our unprecedented supply side access, powerful technology, and market traction.

Freightos office

You have extensive entrepreneurial experience on different markets. Can you please tell us the main differences in growing a company in Israel, Europe, Asia and elsewhere? Are there actually some geo-defined differences or everything comes down to good idea, good timing and good execution?

Certainly there are reasons for growing a company in one region over the other, but in my experience I have found that it is far more important to focus on the mission of the company and the talent within the company than what country it is located in. Wherever the company is located you have to see the whole worlds as your market. I attribute much of my current success to date to assembling the right team that knows how to get things done. I’ve continued working with the some of the same people from my first company through today – we’re a good team and we don’t want to lose that chemistry!

Fizz - nothing is as it seems

You are also the author of the book Fizz: Nothing Is as it Seems where you wrote about universe, time travel and how science and technology redefine the human experience. As we all know, technology and inventions can do as good and harm, depending on the usage. Do you believe that science and technology will help to shape the better world and to benefit the humankind? What do you think when the online freight marketplaces will have rates for space shipment, as well? And at the end – do you think that eventually time travel will be possible and if you do, whether it will be possible to travel only in the future, in the past or in both directions :)?

Wow, interesting set of questions. I will say briefly that time travel into the future is definitely possible, time travel to the past remains science fiction. I guess you’ll have to read Fizz to learn more! There is no doubt that science and technology do help to shape a better world but there are also some big risks from the rapid development of artificial intelligence not to mention not so new risks from nuclear weapons which are back in the headlines. And yes I could see Freightos having rates for shipments to space – there is already a competitive market for delivering payloads to low earth orbit and room for a marketplace.

Emaar acquires Namshi

Emaar Malls acquired 51% of Namshi for 151m USD

Global Fashion Group, owned by Rocket Internet, has announced a strategic partnership with Emaar Malls, which have some of the biggest shopping malls like Dubai Mall in the region and owned by property developer Emaar Properties.

Emaar Malls will acquire a 51% stake in Namshi, the leading online fashion retailer in the Middle East, for 151 million USD including investment in the company for its future growth, with GFG retaining the remaining as 49% co-owner. This partnership will accelerate Namshi’s development in the region while on the other hand give big possibilities to Emaar Malls to grow in ecommerce sector. It has been expected that partnership like this happen, taking into consideration that Emaar was interested to buy Souq.com, the biggest e-commerce site in the region, which was acquired by Amazon for 650m USD earlier this year.

Namshi acquired by Emaar

“The acquisition of a majority stake in Namshi underlines our digital-driven strategy to leverage the growing e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa region,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Malls. “Namshi offers a perfect fit for Emaar Malls in accelerating its focus on multi-channel retailing, and creating long-term value for its stakeholders.”

“We are very excited to welcome Emaar Malls as our majority shareholder,” said Hosam Arab, MD of Namshi. “We are confident that this partnership will unlock further opportunities and help accelerate the development of Namshi for the benefit of our customers. We would like to congratulate and thank our team for their tireless efforts in making Namshi the Middle East’s premier fashion ecommerce destination and we look forward to continuing this journey together with Emaar Malls and GFG.”

Russian sites and services banned in Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine have had very tense relations since the last several years, and it seems currently relations are at all time low. As a result of that, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenk signed on Monday a decree which prevents the operation of Russian sites and online services in Ukraine.  To be precise – a so called web sanctions apply to 468 legal entities and 1228 individuals from Russia.

It is a well-known fact that majority of the most popular sites and online services come from Russia, and two online groups Yandex and Mail.ru owns the biggest number of those popular services. Ukraine users will not be able to use Yandex, Mail.ru. and services like Odnoklassniki (OK) and Vkontakte (VK) which are part of Mail.ru Group and many services from Yandex like search engine, maps, taxi app etc.

Both Yandex and Mail.ru said that this decision will not have significant effect on their financial results.  Mail.ru rep. expressed dissapointment with this and called it as “clearly politically-driven decision”. Around 25 million Ukrainian users will be affected, who regularly use online services from Russian companies.

This will give opportunity to local and foreign companies to gain better market share in the Ukrainian market. From the Ukrainian community many are against this decision and call it as “censorship”.

Uber Croatia

Tough times for Uber in Croatia

As reported by different major web sites in Croatia like Index and Dnevnik, Croatian transportation minister Butković has met with taxi representatives and stated that Uber is not legal in Croatia as well as Cammeo in Split. Uber and Cammeo replied that they are not taxi and that they are not violating the law.

Uber launched operations in Zagreb in October 2015, and expanded their services in Split and Dubrovnik in June 2016.  Similar like in some other markets, Uber drivers have faced different difficulties like threats, attacks even firing up the vehicle while the driver was in the car by their opponents.

Uber Croatia

Cammeo is well-known brand in Croatia and offers taxi service in Zagreb and few other cities but in Split they decided to offer “rent-a-car service with the driver”. They also bought around 30 brand new Dacia cars so every driver whether the driver is licenced taxi driver or non-licenced gets their branded car, software and marketing support. They launched in November 2016 but just after 2 weeks as stated on Index half of their vehicles were taken by inspection. As also written in another the article Cammeo said that they didn’t have the same treatment compared to Uber.

Regarding the statement of transportation minister Butković about Uber in Croatia and Cammeo in Split, beside giving fines to their drivers he announced that their vehicles will be confiscated but didn’t specify when.

Uber has issued the statement that drivers who use Uber follow all the rules in Croatia and pay the appropriate tax on the full amount of their ride price. Also, that Uber application connects checked drivers with riders who want safe ride and that this kind of model is different than auto taxi as this is car rental with driver. They also expressed hope that actual laws will be modernized in order to be according with recommendations of the European commission for the sharing economy and that Croatia will be reference country in that area too, after positive feedback from Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania and Portugal.

Well-known Croatian entrepreneur Saša Cvetojević said that he thinks that the situation that after one year of Uber business in Croatia is said that they are not doing business legally shows all the weakness of administration and doing business in Croatia. He added that if this service is not legal it should have been treated that way from day one and if the Croatia wants to stimulate development of new business models during this time could have been implemented solution that would enable this kind of business model. Also, he said that due to the high season and Advent in Zagreb, with a lot of tourists, that this is the worst time to bring such decision.