Uber Freight, Transplace now 1 operation with a wall on proprietary data

The merger between Uber Freight and Transplace was made final months ago. The more practical amalgamation of the companies — combining their offerings on one platform — now has been completed as well. 

The Transplace name will be less prominent as a result. As Frank McGuigan, the president and COO of Uber Freight (NYSE: UBER) and formerly with Transplace, said in an interview with FreightWaves, when sales personnel now reach out to customers, existing or potential, they introduce themselves as being from Uber Freight.

Lior Ron, CEO of Uber Freight, said in the same interview, “We have one product team, one engineering team, one technical team and one operations team to bring the platform together.”

However, McGuigan noted that “the Transplace name won’t disappear. It’s a good brand.”

But one point the company is seeking to drive home through multiple forums is that there are limits to the combination. In the note from Uber Freight proposing the interview, the second bullet point stated, “Important [boldface in original] — managed transportation services and digital brokerage solutions will continue to operate separately.”

“Everybody benefits if you have one platform,” Ron emphasized. “It’s a much more scalable platform. That’s what excited us at the end of the day.”

But the company plans to “maintain an absolute separation of state and church and be sure that none of the operational insights pricing bleeds to the 3PL and broker side of the house,” and vice versa.

When the Uber Freight acquisition of Transplace in July 2021 was announced, FreightWaves carried a story soon after the announcement that headlined the deal as “Transplace is upstream, Uber Freight is downstream, and now they’re getting married.” Ron said the company still uses the headline in training to explain the difference between the two companies.

The basic models for the companies going in is that the “upstream” was at Transplace, with its brokerage and managed transportation core activities serving shippers. For Uber Freight, the acquiring company in the transaction, it is the algorithms that power its online brokerage activities and its network of tens of thousands of carriers who use it. 

“We want to meet shippers and carriers where they are at,” McGuigan said. 

He described putting the companies together as “the world’s largest network demand platform meeting the world’s largest supply platform.” 

Ron said Uber technology “brings the entire lower segment of the carrier community and gives them that technology enhancement that allows them to participate in the world’s largest network platform.”

Moving from the theoretical to the specific, Ron and McGuigan said the far greater availability of loads on the Uber Freight network coming from legacy Transplace should be the key attraction to carriers, all of it visible on a consolidated app. 

Even if confidential data from one side is kept away from the other, the merging of the two companies on one platform means the needs of shippers working with the legacy Transplace business will now make their way into the Uber Freight system. “It increases the ability to utilize the platform more and get the loads right,” Ron said. 

With all of that data in one place, he added, “the conversation can be much more strategic on how we can improve things.”

Ron said the combined platforms now give a carrier the “ability to sift through gazillions of load opportunities to have the right loads at the right time with the right carrier.” He said he also expects that the data flow from two sides of the shipper/carrier divide can create more accurate information on such things as ratings.

Ron and McGuigan alike spoke of the ability of the platform, both through technology and the increase in load volumes on it, to reduce deadhead miles. “If you’re a carrier, you can be on that platform and the difference is going to a load board and getting a load that you never see again,” he said. “Or you can live on our platform that is going to offer you a load there and maybe a load back.”

As Ron described it, a carrier can “subscribe to a link and essentially take a three- to six-month contract in the app without talking to a single human being.”

McGuigan got specific with numbers. He said Transplace paid approximately 38,000 carriers in 2021, and with the Uber Freight merger, “we’ve now more than doubled that.”

McGuigan said he was “totally OK with being branded under Uber Freight.”

“It is identified with technology and data science,” he said, adding that he sees it as part of an “evolution in the 3PL and 4PL companies to these platforms where all shippers and carriers of all modes can meet and successfully interact.”

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