Pandion, a year-old logistics startup founded by former Amazon and Walmart executive Scott Ruffin, raised $ 30 million in fresh capital that it will use to continue building a so-called “package network” to help online retailers to send packages more efficiently.
Laesencia: The company, which recently emerged from stealth mode, will use the funds to hire 80 people at a new 150,000-square-foot facility in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, which will serve as a hub for routing packages on behalf of a growing list of clients. The timing is good too, with the holiday shipping season just around the corner.
The Sponsors: The $ 22.5 million Series A round was led by Bow Capital, with participation from existing investors Playground Global, Schematic Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Innovation Endeavors. An additional $ 7.5 million was quickly added led by Telstra Ventures, a sign of a very hot deal.
Pandion slipped under our radar here at GeekWire, and perhaps with good reason as Ruffin previously led the stealth efforts as the founder and leader of Amazon Air. He later served short terms as executive vice president and chief strategy officer at J.W. Logistics and, most recently, until June 2020, he served as Vice President and Head of E-Commerce Transportation at Walmart.
The Take: Raising this amount of early-stage capital is impressive, as we remember the days when Series A rounds were in the $ 500,000 to $ 2 million range. Obviously, Pandion’s business is a bit more capital intensive, and the latest fundraising effort speaks to the ongoing revolution in logistics brought on by the rise of e-commerce. Seattle’s on-demand storage startup Flexe, which has raised $ 144 million to date, is riding this wave, too. “Plastics” might have been the wise industry advice provided in The Graduate, but perhaps the 2021 equivalent is “logistics.”
Seattle’s Tribute raised $ 1.5 million in a two-part seed round, allowing the mentoring app to hire former Amazon AWS architect Ian Ma as its technical director.
The gist: Tribute, which integrates with Slack and Microsoft Teams, is trying to solve the hurdle of fear of commitment that keeps mentor-mentee relationships from taking off. The app limits tutoring interactions to one month, with the option for both parties to agree to renew for additional 30-day periods.
The Cost: There’s a free version with limited functionality for teams of up to 50 people, and it costs $ 5 per user per month for up to 5,000 people and $ 7 per user per month for up to 50,000 people.
Sponsors: Portland Seed Fund, Tapas Capital, DNX Ventures, Avalanche VC, Mastersfund and ScoutFund.
Founder Sarah Haggard was at Microsoft for a decade before launching Tribute in 2018. Clients include Microsoft, Sonos, Zillow, Remitly, Reckitt, and the University of Washington. At AWS, Ma helped startups use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. He previously co-founded Decide, the Seattle online shopping product research site that eBay acquired in 2013 and quickly shut down. The startup was recently selected to partner with Microsoft Viva, the company’s employee experience platform.
The Take: It has become increasingly difficult for teams to connect, collaborate and build meaningful working relationships, especially during the pandemic. A number of new workplace collaboration tools are looking to solve this problem, and this week we saw Microsoft buy Seattle startup Ally, which is also looking to bring teams together in a more cohesive way. As an example of money flowing into this space, see the next item.