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Transportation Reimagined at World of Connections 2019

| Insights, Smart Mobility, USA

Chad Bailey, Vice President, NGP Capital

Paul Asel, Partner, NGP Capital

NGP Capital hosted its fifth annual World of Connections event in San Francisco gathering 375 entrepreneurs and executives from the US, Europe, and Asia to consider the ways in which technology enables us to Reimagine the Future.

Maersk, Nokia, and Wipro co-hosted the conference, which featured keynotes from Maersk Chairman, Jim Hagemann Snabe, and Wipro Chairman, Rishad Premji.

Both spoke eloquently about how technology offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform our economies and society. But with opportunity comes responsibility, as technology misuse threatens our institutions and personal freedoms.

Ultimately, both chairmen believe that wisdom and restraint will prevail, enabling technology to fulfill its promise and potential.

On the left: Jim Hagemann Snabe, Chairman of Maersk. On the right Heather Somerville, technology reporter at the Wall Street Journal, interviewing Rishad Premji, Chairman of Wipro.

At World of Connections, we reimagined the future through three lenses: how we live, how we work, and how we travel. Transportation Reimagined featured a marquee group of speakers with unique perspectives on the future of mobility.

John Casesa, Senior Managing Director at Guggenheim Partners and former Chief Strategy Officer at Ford, postulated that mobility is a new industry emerging from the convergence of autos, telecoms, and technology. John reviewed more than 200 years of technology revolutions to show how innovation follows a consistent cycle of incursion by new entrants, consolidation, and maturity. He believes that the changes now underway in the transportation industry will transform both our economy and our society in the coming decades.

Chris Sultemeier, former Executive Vice President overseeing logistics at Walmart, argued that Walmart and Amazon are pioneering a new form of logistics. The three Ds of logistics are density, distance, and delivery flexibility. Warehouses and stores are converging into omnichannel fulfillment centers to serve the dual needs of ecommerce and traditional retail. Multi-purpose facilities offer both greater density and increased delivery flexibility. Yet Chris warns that supply-chain networks are less about the facilities than the networks that connect them.

Andrew Clarke, the former CFO of CH Robinson, echoed Jeff Silver’s sentiment from the perspective of one of the largest and most innovative incumbents in the freight industry. In an interview with John Engstrom from Freightwaves, Andrew highlighted that many incumbents are investing aggressively in new technology that they can rapidly test and deploy over their logistics networks.

On the left: John Engstrom, Chief Strategy Officer of FreightWaves, interviewing Andrew Clarke, Board Member of Element Fleet Direct ChassisLink Inc. On the right: Chris Sultemeier, former Executive Vice President of Walmart.

Jeff Silver founded and built Coyote into a leading third-party logistics business before selling it to UPS for $1.8 billion in 2015. Coyote has spawned myriad venture-backed logistics businesses that have sought to replicate its success. Jeff is skeptical of recent venture funding in the logistics sector, arguing that most "innovation" is for me-too solutions that have already been adopted by industry incumbents. Yet logistics is not devoid of opportunities for innovation. Jeff recently left UPS to start Mastery Logistics Systems.

Moovit is a startup that already moves people worldwide on a scale equivalent to Ford. Some 500 million people across 3,000 cities use Moovit to plan their daily commutes. Co-Founder and CEO Nir Erez is working with cities to re-architect their transportation systems for more efficient multi-modal public transportation. Optimizing first- and last-mile transportation is essential as these comprise 50% of public transit travel time. Moovit is collaborating with micro-mobility providers such as Lime to address this problem.

While Moovit optimizes commutes for adults, Zum is a leading innovator in school transport. CEO Ritu Narayan indicated that Zum can save up to 25% of transportation costs for schools while reducing commute time by optimizing routing and vehicle utilization. This is welcome both for the 56 million US children who ride to school daily and for the schools, for which transportation is their second-highest cost.

Jeff Silver with Julian Counihan, the Founding and General Partner at Schematic Ventures. On the right Nir Erez, Co-Founder and CEO of Moovit.

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