Google’s Gradient Ventures leads $7 million investment

Wise Systems, which develops autonomous and dispatch software for delivery fleets, has raised $7 in a series A round of funding led by Gradient Ventures — Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.)-focused investment fund.

Additional participants in the round include Neoteny, E14 Fund, Trucks Venture Capital, and Fontinalis Partners.

Founded out of Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2014, Wise Systems targets retailers, distributors, shippers, and couriers with software that automates many of the processes involved in getting goods from A to B. This includes scheduling and monitoring routes, with a built-in mechanism that rearranges stops and adjusts routes in real time based on anticipated delays due to traffic and other factors. This leans heavily on machine learning smarts that monitor data points to improve delivery fleets’ performance over time.

Feeding into this is a mobile app for drivers, which lets them log arrival and departure times, capture signatures, and record notes manually, while on the customer-facing end there is a hub to track delivery status and real-time arrival schedules.

Above: Wise Systems

Wise Systems had previously raised around $1 million, and with another $7 million in the bank it plans to double down on its operational growth and invest in R&D for AI-powered delivery management.

“Autonomous dispatch and routing is the next-generation technology that logistics professionals need to meet the increasingly complex requirements of the rapidly evolving economy,” noted Wise Systems CEO Chazz Sims. “Our technology positions fleets to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs, reshaping delivery in the $10 trillion logistics and transportation industry.”

Google’s parent company Alphabet has operated a number of investment funds for some time already, but last July Google itself announced a new venture fund targeting early-stage AI startups. Since its inception, Gradient Ventures has invested in fewer than a dozen startups, including biomedical startup BenchSci.

Big money

The delivery and logistics industry is ripe for investment, with a number of big technology companies pushing resources into the sphere.

Walmart recently launched Spark Delivery, a crowdsourced pilot delivery program similar to Amazon Flex, while Amazon announced that it is looking to create a network of independent delivery fleets to bolster its existing network of third-party providers. Last year, Uber launched its Uber Freight trucking business as it sought to expand beyond its consumer ride-hailing and food delivery businesses. As it happens, Uber revealed last week that it will begin using machine learning to provide shippers with accurate rates up to two weeks in advance.

Meanwhile, Google has also invested in the delivery and logistics realm — in October it joined a $40 million investment in same-day delivery platform Deliv. Given activity elsewhere in the technology industry, it should come as little surprise that Google’s AI-focused venture fund would seek to invest in a company like Wise Systems.

“With their applications of machine learning already delivering bottom-line savings and top-line expansion features to customers, we are excited to support Wise Systems’ continued growth,” added Gradient Ventures managing partner Anna Patterson. “Wise’s large customers are redefining their abilities and re-setting expectations of last mile delivery for the on-demand age.”

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