AI-powered supply chain visibility platform Altana pockets $100M – TechCrunch

Trade wars, military conflicts, the rise of e-commerce and sustainability concerns are driving changes in supply chain networks and trade flows. According to Gartner, 74% of supply chain companies have changed their networks in the past two years. And in an IBM survey, 40% of executives stressed the need for spare capacity to deal with future crises.

Evan Smith believes that a key part of solving supply chain stability must involve enabling stakeholders, including businesses and governments, to build trust through a shared source of truth about the global supply chain. To that end, he is one of the co-founders of Altana, a startup using AI to sift through supply chain data points to spot anomalies and identify potential risks and bad things. actors.

TechCrunch chatted with Smith about the closing of Altana’s $100M Series B funding round, led by Activate Capital with participation from OMERS Ventures, Prologis Ventures, Reefknot Investments, Four More Capital, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Amadeus Capital, Floating Point and Ridgeline Partners. Bringing the startup’s total raised to $123 million, Altana is partnering with Maersk to provide the ability to track shipments so they comply with legislation, including the U.S. ban on importing goods produced by forced labour, which entered into force in June.

“Many of the world’s most pressing challenges involve correcting the failures and side effects of globalization of the past 75 years,” Smith told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Altana addresses these challenges by enabling governments, logistics providers and businesses to build a more resilient, secure, inclusive and sustainable globalization defined by networks of trust.

Altana was founded by Smith, Raphael Tehranian, Peter Swartz and Alan Bersin in December 2018. Prior to Altana, Smith, Tehranian and Swartz worked for Panjiva, a global business data company, which was acquired by S&P in 2018. Bersin served as Deputy Secretary of the Office . policy officer at the US Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration and previously served as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection.

Smith says what makes Altana unique are the aforementioned supply chain analytics, powered by a hub-and-spoke AI system that connects and learns from cross-company logistics and data. The platform leverages customs authorities, logistics providers and businesses, creating a shared view of supply chain networks, seemingly without pooling or exposing sensitive data.

For example, one of Altana’s features identifies shippers and receivers of shipments, classifies goods inside shipping boxes and containers, and provides a shipping note for customs compliance and security. It also answers general questions about the products, shipments, companies and networks involved.

An overview of Altana’s Global Supply Chain Visibility Dashboard. Picture credits: Altane

“[Our model] enables “shared intelligence” without sharing data – gleaning insights from the network while protecting the privacy of data from participants such as governments and businesses,” Smith explained. “In every deployment, we connect user data to our living model of the global supply chain and business network. [Altana] generates learnings from the combined data, which is shared across the network, while the underlying user data never leaves each single-tenant federated environment.

Beyond Maersk, Altana has worked with organizations such as the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British military and defense think tank, to uncover Russia’s supply of Western components to run military systems. weapons during the invasion of Ukraine by the country. Altana also recently demonstrated how its system can be used to trace the pathways through which Uyghur forced labor enters the global economy.

Smith argues that the The need for businesses to understand, gain visibility and navigate the global supply chain is more relevant than ever – and for businesses to recognize it, driving Altana’s growth. For example, 18% of companies in the supply chain told Gartner in July that they were conducting climate change risk assessments, using tools such as geospatial analysis, drones and AI-based ecological simulations.

Altana currently has 20 customers, including brands like UPS and several undisclosed government agencies.

“Laws like the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which is based on the ‘guilty until proven guilty’ model for all products entering the United States from China, pose a huge risk to businesses. who ship goods to the United States. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. future legislation going on in the UK, EU, as well as sanctions against Russia [and others]”Smith said.”The need for businesses to understand, gain visibility and navigate the complex global supply chain is more relevant than ever. »

Altana, like other supply chain startups, is enjoying a historic investment boom in the sector. VCs paid a record $58.4 billion into global supply chain technology companies in 2021, according to PitchBook. Recently, Tive, a startup developing supply chain visibility tools, raised $54 million. Supplier experience management platform HICX snagged $30 million soon after, and FourKites – which helps manage global cargo shipments – landed its own recent slice of $30 million in the part of a previously announced strategic partnership with FedEx.

Though there are signs of trouble ahead – investment in supply chain startups fell 40% year over year in the second quarter, reflecting the downturn in the economy – Smith says Altana is poised for growth in the months ahead. The company is “operating at 12 to 15 times growth” this year, he claimed, and plans to expand its workforce to 110 by the end of 2022.

“[Our] rating increased 8 times from [our] Series A,” added Smith – unfortunately declining to reveal the exact figure. “The [Series B] the investment will fund aggressive platform and product development to enable governments, logistics providers and businesses around the world to build trusted supply chain networks on a shared source of truth.

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