Freightos $80 million IPO funds shipping platform’s expansion
Jerusalem-based company navigates overwhelmed global supply chains while deepening ties with Qatar Airways, CEO Zvi Schreiber tells The Circuit
TEL AVIV – Freightos, an online platform for shipping goods around the world, will use some $80 million raised in a Wall Street public offering to upgrade its booking technology and expand operations globally, particularly in Asia, founder and CEO Zvi Schreiber told The Circuit.
The Jerusalem-based company sold shares for the first time on Thursday through a merger with Gesher, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, which enabled Freightos’ listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The new stock, bearing the ticker symbol CRGO, rose as high as $30 a share in early trading before closing at $10.49. It dropped 22% on Friday to $8.20.
“It’s all about expanding the product and expanding the customer footprint,” Schreiber, 53, said in an interview from New York, where he rang Nasdaq’s opening bell surrounded by cheering Freightos executives. “We’re already in a fast-growth trajectory, which is great, and we want to carry that on.”
Founded in 2012, Freightos disrupted the international shipping industry by allowing businesses to shop online for the best prices to move goods by sea and air – similar to comparing flight and hotel costs on sites like Expedia and Booking.com. Sales revenue boomed last year as Freightos benefited from high cargo prices amid world shipping delays. Prices have since declined.
“People were sort of lazy when supply chains were all running smoothly,” said London-born Schreiber who lives in Israel. “Now it’s clear that because of [factors such as] the pandemic, increasingly erratic weather, labor disputes, things are changing all the time. That just underlines the need to have a booking platform that is digital.”
Freightos also brought a wealth of data analytics to the freight industry, introducing real-time information on pricing, vessel location and available cargo space that were historically held tightly by shipping lines. “Now when a port goes down, you just go to a website and find the alternative,” Schreiber said. “ If the Suez Canal is blocked, you can go to the website and find the ship that would sail through the Pacific route.”
Of the $80 million raised in the IPO, $10 million came from Qatar Airways, the world’s largest air cargo carrier, and $60 million from M&G Investments and Prudential Assurance Co., both based in London, according to a Freightos statement. Shareholders include the Israeli venture capital firms Aleph, OurCrowd and Sadara; Singapore’s SGX Group; FedEx Logistics; and Bob Mylod, chairman of Booking Holdings, which owns Booking.com and Priceline.com.
While Freightos is registered in the Cayman Islands, Schreiber said its Israeli roots have not presented a barrier to its close connections with Qatar Airways, whose chief cargo officer, Guillaume Halleux, sits on the company’s board. Qatar has no official diplomatic relations with Israel and declined to join the 2020 Abraham Accords in which its Gulf neighbors, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, normalized ties with Israel.
“We’re pragmatic and they’re pragmatic,” Schreiber said of the Qatari airline. “It’s just doing what makes sense from a business perspective.”
Freightos also does significant business with the Dubai-based carrier, Emirates.
The new funds will help Freightos grow and extend the company’s influence in a variety of ways, said Michael Eisenberg, co-founder of Aleph, which co-led the first investment round in Freightos a decade ago.
“The infusion of capital allows Freightos to lean in when so many other companies are leaning back,” Eisenberg told The Circuit. “Going public also brings brand recognition and credibility, which opens doors with enterprises, shippers and airlines and ocean carriers.”
Schreiber said the money will allow Freightos to pursue an “aggressive expansion plan” around the world while paying special attention to Asia, noting the company’s latest partnership agreement with China Southern, the country’s largest airline.
“It’s not a secret that we’ve been stronger in Europe and in the U.S.,” Schreiber said. “We’ve still got a limited footprint in Asia, but Asia, of course, is a huge part of the world economy and particularly important when it comes to freight.”