Lewis said he was attracted to Atlanta’s rich pool of potential employees and its base of logistics businesses and large companies. He looked for cities that continue to grow and are “really friendly to new businesses coming in.”
“Atlanta is the sort of best complement to Seattle and the best city we could pick in the eastern half of the United States,” he said.
Convoy’s footprint is far smaller. It has about 350 employees at its Seattle headquarters and is valued at about $1 billion.
Convoy competes with other startups and traditional brokers — including Coyote Logistics, which is part of Sandy Springs-based UPS — that connect trucking companies with businesses that have goods to ship. Convoy uses an app that notifies truckers about potential loads, allows them to accept or bid up jobs, and helps track tractor-trailer locations.
Lewis said the system is designed to eliminate inefficiencies and create more transparency about everything from pricing to delay points at distribution centers.
“This benefits every business that wants to save money and get stuff faster,” he said. “Logistics is the background noise of America. It impacts everything but people don’t notice it.”
Convoy said it works primarily with small trucking firms and a variety of shippers, including Atlanta-based Home Depot.
Satish Jindel, a transportation logistics consultant, sees limits to the potential impact of Convoy and a similar Uber concept called Uber Freight.
“It is just an evolution of technology in freight brokerage,” he said. “It is not a disruption.”
But Convoy has sparked urgency for bigger freight brokers to do more with technology faster, Jindel said.