Monday, November 2, 2015

Trucking Ubers keep coming

Move over. Here come two more Ubers for trucking.

One is called Convoy, the other Next Trucking. They both do pretty much the same thing as Truckerpath, Transfix, 10-4, you name it. There are differences among them, but all are built around the Uber idea of smartphone apps for drivers. Uber connects auto drivers with fares. The trucking Ubers connect truck drivers with loads. 

Of the two new entries, by far the biggest splash is being made by Convoy. Like all the others, it was born more of technology than transportation. But its backers are making headlines.

According to Bloomberg Business they include some of the most prominent names in the world of tech: Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com; Pierre Omidyar of eBay; Drew Houston of Dropbox; Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks; and even a co-founder of Uber, Garrett Camp.

Wow.

But so far, there is much more hype than substance. Convoy is a Seattle-based company dealing in local and regional deliveries. Bloomberg reports Convoy has signed up “almost 100 trucks.” I’d guess most are straight trucks.

Further, said Bloomberg, Convoy’s “customers number in the double digits.” That could be anything from 99 to 10. Not exactly impressive. But Convoy clearly intends to go national. A photo on the Convoy driver sign-up page shows a row of semis, probably at a truck stop.

How much do all those big names understand commercial trucking on a national scale? Compared to what they know about consumer commerce, I’d guess not much.

Not to say Convoy will fail. It will probably have money to stay in the game longer than some of the competition. Hard to say how much backing Next Trucking has. But one thing is clear. Not all of these Uber-like guys are going to survive. I’d guess that most will be gone in a year. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the new Ubers resemble each other in one more important way. They all take yet another chunk – along with brokers, factors, and what-all – out of transportation revenue.

Guess who isn’t getting that revenue?