A truck.
Photo: Josiah Farrow via Unsplash

Cargo-sharing is the new ridesharing

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how one enterprise software company is trying to make shipping goods in a supply-chain crisis more efficient, TSMC cashes in on the chip shortage, and this week’s enterprise tech moves.

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Cybersecurity incidents are somewhat inevitable, despite the best efforts of security professionals to protect their companies. According to new research from Splunk, maybe it’s time to start thinking about faster ways to recover from those incidents: 54% of survey respondents said they’d been forced offline once a month by security incidents, with the median time to recover at 14 hours.

The UberPool of trucking

The pandemic created a bullwhip in supply and demand that rippled across the entire supply chain, from container ports to warehouses.

One of the main challenges has been a shortage of trucks to move backed-up goods to their locations. “There’s way more freight than there are trucks to get it,” said Oren Zaslansky, CEO of logistics software company Flock Freight. “And that drives up costs because there's so few trucks there. So the shipper has to sort of pay whatever the market drives them.”

But there’s a key problem making the situation worse: Most trucks that are used to ship goods aren’t actually full.

  • “About a third of the U.S. truckload industry — which is like $400 to $500 billion a year depending upon where you get your data — about a third of all those trucks are only half full,” said Zaslansky.
  • And companies typically have to pay for the equivalent of a full truckload to ship their goods, even if they don’t have a trailer’s worth of stuff to move.
  • “When you think about it from an economic standpoint, the shipper paid for a full truck, they just couldn't fill it up. So it's very expensive for them. And from the carrier's perspective, it's wasted space,” he said.

Flock Freight wants to solve this problem by becoming the UberPool of trucking. By letting shippers share the same truck, companies can pay only for the space they use, rather than paying for a truck that’s half empty.

  • That’s why Zaslansky compares Flock Freight’s technology to the algorithms that power Lyft Line or UberPool. Like the ridesharing platforms, Flock Freight matches cargo from different shippers going to the same destination or along the same route, and allows them to share a truck ride.
  • But there are some key differences between ridesharing and shared truckloads. For one, when using UberPool or Lyft Line, the characteristics of those riders don’t actually matter. “They don't have to consider our race or gender, our height or weight, we’re all human widgets to the algorithm; they truly don't care,” said Zaslansky.
  • Ridesharing platforms also “don't know, let alone care, if you sit on the right side or left side of the car. They don't know if you've got on this side of the street and that side of the street. None of those things matter algorithmically in the rideshare in pooling products.”

Cargo-sharing is a lot more complicated than ridesharing.

  • “If you think about freight, we absolutely need to constrain for and optimize against length, width, height, weight, density, what's called the NMFC code, the SIC code,” said Zaslansky.
  • And unlike Uber, you can’t put just any types of cargo together. “We have to understand compatibility of cargo. You cannot put hazardous materials with food,” he said.
  • On top of all of this, Flock Freight’s algorithm has to solve for last in, first out, or LIFO, sequencing. “In a carpool of people in cars, you get out either side; whichever side you're sitting on is the side you're gonna get out on, it's pretty straightforward,” said Zaslansky.
  • But with cargo, everything goes in and comes out the same way: from the back of the trailer. “So if you're the first thing loaded in the nose, you're gonna be the last thing that comes off. And if you're the last thing loaded on the tail, you're going to be the first thing that comes off the trailer,” he said.

Flock Freight’s algorithm has the challenge of solving for all these variables while still balancing supply and demand using Uber-like surge pricing. But when it works, it helps the supply chain get back to what it does best: moving goods from point A to point B.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)


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Cashing in on chips

Bad news: The world’s largest contract chipmaker TSMC told investors very early Thursday morning that the chip shortage isn’t going to draw to a close anytime soon.

The Taiwan-based company said that it doesn’t expect to have excess manufacturing capacity through the year because of ongoing demand for chips needed for high-performance computing and smartphones. But this amounts to good news for TSMC itself: The company’s sales surged 36% to $17.57 billion and profit jumped 45%, and it expects to produce full-year results at the upper end of its forecast.

TSMC executives warned, however, that its expansion plans may face trouble next year. The tools the company needs to expand its factories are becoming more challenging to buy, in part hindered by the damaged global supply chain. It won’t be a problem this year, but it's not clear if TSMC’s efforts to mitigate the issue will clear things up for 2023.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

Upcoming at Protocol

Net zero. Carbon offsets. Scope 3 emissions. These are just some of the terms you’ll find in Big Tech’s climate plans. Understanding what they actually mean is vital to ensuring the industry is meeting its goals — and understanding whether those goals are the right ones.

Join Protocol’s Brian Kahn for a virtual event on April 19 at 10 a.m. PT, where he’ll talk with some of the people responsible for setting those goals and experts who are monitoring them to find out what tech companies are really doing. Joining Brian will be Suzanne DiBianca, the chief impact officer at Salesforce, and Jamie Beck Alexander, the director of Drawdown Labs and Project Drawdown.

RSVP here.

Enterprise moves

Over the past week Workday and Amplitude added new customer leaders, and executives from Splunk, Twilio and Domo jumped ship to join startups.

Sam Alkharrat is the new chief partner officer at Workday. Alkharrat was previously president and CRO at C3.ai and held leadership roles at VMWare and SAP.

Lambert Walsh is the first chief customer officer at Amplitude. Walsh joins from DocuSign where he was SVP of Customer Success, and was a VP at Adobe prior to that.

Kartik Ramachandran is the first CFO for Notarize. Ramachandran was previously the CFO of Splunk, and held leadership roles at Groupon and Activision Blizzard.

Robin Andruss joined Skyflow as chief privacy officer. Andruss was formerly Twilio’s data protection officer and director, and worked in privacy at Yahoo and Google.

Mark Johnston was named CMO of Matillion. Johnston was previously interim CMO at Domo, and worked in marketing for Microsoft prior to that.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

AWS submitted plans to build a new data center in the heart of garlic country outside Gilroy, California, at the very southern edge of the Bay Area.

Alibaba started letting customers preview its custom-designed Arm server processor, first introduced last year.

Google introduced a new tool within BigQuery that allows administrators to automatically classify certain types of data as sensitive and deserving of extra protection against data loss.


"Trying to make every deal as big as possible often adds complexity and extends sales cycles. To accelerate growth, sellers should focus on landing faster, and then expanding, and expanding again. Getting customers into your solution sooner helps you solve their initial problems, then later, you can grow together." - Michael Megerian, Chief Revenue Officer at Yello

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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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