Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who has amassed a fortune large enough to see him crowned the world's richest person, is to invest part of his wealth in a British technology start-up which wants to become a global logistics titan.
Sky News can reveal that Mr Bezos has agreed to back Beacon, a specialist in digital freight forwarding and supply chain finance.
Mr Bezos - who the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates is now worth $143bn (£116bn) - is understood to be participating in a $15m (£12.2m) Series A fundraising, to be announced by Beacon this week.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and music industry star Drake are investing in Overtime as part of a new $80 million round of funding for the sport startup, which is geared to fans more interested in. Deciding to take the entrepreneurial plunge to start Amazon, was perhaps one of the best decisions Jeff Bezos has taken in his life. But back in 1994, when Bezos was a senior vice president at D. Feb 15, 2019 In the '90s, Jeff Bezos rented a house in the Seattle suburbs where he would launch an online bookstore from his garage. That house — billed as 'the birthplace of Amazon — sold in 2019 for an.
Luring the world's wealthiest man as a backer represents a huge coup for Beacon, particularly because as the founder and chief executive of Amazon, Mr Bezos is intimately acquainted with the complexities of supply chain management.
The tycoon, who owns the Washington Post, has a long track record of investing in start-ups, with Airbnb and Grail, a cancer detection company, among those he has backed.
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He holds a roughly 12% stake in Amazon, which has vied with Apple, Google's parent Alphabet, and Microsoft for the status of the world's most valuable publicly-traded company.
At Friday's closing share price of $2442.37, Amazon was worth $1.22trn (£988bn).
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Launched in 2018, the UK-based company uses artificial intelligence, cloud and other technology to improve operational efficiency for customers organising international trade in their products.
Freight forwarders act as agents between exporters and importers, taking a fee for the service they provide in arranging transport for goods from factories prior to their shipment.
They also administer relevant paperwork required for exports.
The biggest players in the sector include DHL, the global logistics group, and Kuehne + Nagel, but the industry's is regarded as having been slow to embrace the digital age.
Beacon was set up to drive efficiencies in a historically fragmented industry, with industry sources saying this weekend that the timing of its latest fundraising was shrewd.
The coronavirus pandemic has elevated the issue of supply chain integrity onto multinationals' board agendas around the world.
Factories in parts of China - known as 'the workshop of the world', because of its manufacturing capacity - were closed for several weeks earlier this year because of the virus, leaving companies scrambling to find alternative production routes for their goods.
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Beacon is understood to have seen strong demand during the crisis from companies in the e-commerce and homewares sector, in particular.
The company offers a range of services - including global ocean, air freight and truck - which can be accessed and managed on a single platform.
Its technology provides both a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo and data on global shipping costs and prices, with machine-learning tools allowing it to optimise shipping routes and processes for improved cost, speed and reliability.
Sources say it is markedly different to the likes of Uber Freight, a division of Uber Technologies, which offers point-to-point deliveries using trucks, with bookings made online.
One insider said the provision of supply chain finance was another key differentiator for Beacon.
The company helps importers to address cashflow needs by offering financing within 72 hours - a critical issue for importers who invariably have to pay suppliers before goods begin a shipment journey that can take several months.
By investing in Beacon, Mr Bezos joins one of the most prominent investor line-ups of any early-stage tech company in the world. Google canary portable.
Its shareholders includes Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive, and Travis Kalanick, the Uber Technologies founder who was forced out of the ride-sharing start-up last year.
Beacon was founded by two former Uber executives, Fraser Robinson and Dmitri Izmailov.
Pierre Martin, the company's chief technology officer, previously worked at Amazon.
'It is a management team with deep expertise in logistics, technology, finance and hyper-growth,' a source said.
According to sources close to Beacon, its new funding will be deployed to expand its workforce and invest in new technological capability.
As part of the latest fundraising, 8VC, a Silicon Valley-based investor, is also acquiring a stake in the company.
Beacon is said to be on course to grow its revenues fivefold this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to fuel demand for its services as clients seek to make their supply chains work more smoothly.
The company is also likely to benefit from supply chain complexities exacerbated by continuing Brexit-related uncertainty, investors believe.
A Beacon spokesman declined to comment on Sunday.
Amazon once made a smartphone. Known as the Fire Phone, it was maybe the worst piece of technology made in the past 20 years. It was really that bad.
It took only three months for the company to write down the value of the remaining inventory, though you could still buy one for 99 cents on a contract. A little over a year later, Amazon stopped selling it altogether.
That's because it wasn't a good phone. You could argue it was a good idea, but that's really only true if the thing you really want in a smartphone is a device that makes it easier to buy things from Amazon--something that, let's be honest, is not exactly difficult.
Sure, it had some novel tech built in, like what Amazon called Dynamic Perspective, something that used four cameras on the front of the device to detect the position of your head and then adjust the content on the display to produce a sort of 3-D effect. Just because something is novel, it doesn't mean it's useful.
Bezos, according to reports at the time, was intimately involved in the design process for the Fire Phone. A Fast Company story on the development of the company's biggest flop quoted a member of the team as saying of Bezos: 'Even the very smallest decisions needed to go through him.'
It would be easy to imagine someone like Bezos, who has the kind of relentless focus that made Amazon the dominant force in e-commerce in the first place, being unable to let go of something he was so deeply invested in. But that isn't what happened.
In fact, Bezos's response to the whole flop is the most telling thing of all.
'You can't, for one minute, feel bad about the Fire Phone. Promise me you won't lose a minute of sleep,' Bezos reportedly told one of the top project leaders.
There was a good reason. It turns out that the Fire Phone led to one of Amazon's biggest successes. An early prototype of the Fire Phone included a voice recognition feature that could play a song based on a user's request. Eventually, Amazon would build a team with 200 people to build a cloud-based voice assistant--Alexa.
It doesn't seem likely that the Fire Phone would have ever beaten the iPhone or even most of the Android devices from Samsung or Google. Alexa, on the other hand, is the dominant smart home assistant, even though it is not the native option on any smartphone, unlike Google Assistant and Siri.
Amazon never made a Fire Phone 2. Instead, it killed it about as fast as any piece of technology I can remember. As a result, it ended up with something that has sold far more than 100 million devices.
That's a pretty big success, not just because of the numbers, but also because of how it reflects the thinking of a leader like Bezos. It reflects a willingness to learn from failure, and redirect your resources and energy--along with that learning--toward something that can succeed.
It's the opposite of how leaders too often confront failure. They continue to devote energy and resources to bad ideas that end up dragging down their team and their business.
Instead, Bezos shows that there's a better way to handle failure: Pursue lots of ideas, with lots of energy, but at the same time be willing to quickly let go of the ones that don't work. That's how you turn a big failure into a much bigger success.