Freelancer.com acquires heavy freight marketplace Loadshift

Freelancer.com acquires heavy freight marketplace Loadshift

"Loadshift had the market share and is quite the dominant force in Australia, to the point where it's become a verb. You go and 'Loadshift' something - that's the name that's synonymous in the transport industry," says Freightlancer.com founder and recently appointed CEO Tom Cavanagh.

A global freight, shipping and transportation marketplace partially owned by Freelancer.com (ASX: FLN) is consolidating its position through the acquisition of Loadshift, along with backing from Dubbo-based Maas Group (ASX: MGH) shareholders Wes Maas and Tom Cavanagh.

Freelancer's 53 per cent-owned subsidiary Freightlancer.com has acquired Loadshift for $7.7 million, bringing Australia's leading digital freight marketplace into the group.

Loadshift was founded by entrepreneur Phil Callaghan in 2007 and has since grown to have 85.8 million kilometres of freight requested in 2020 with more than 73,000 loads posted in the past 12 months.  In FY20 Loadshift recorded an EBITDA of approximately $766,000.

"After a 15-year journey as the director of Loadshift, this represents the ideal next step," says Callaghan.

"The moment is right, the family timing is perfect and the opportunity to see Loadshift's successful model brought to the global stage by Freelancer irresistible.

"From the beginning, I have been committed to utilising technology to create a connected community of both carriers and shippers. When we started, there was little visibility of trucking capacity. We've brought that visibility to the freight community, changing the industry."

Callaghan says he and his team have loved forging connections that span the breadth of Australia from coast to coast, improving the businesses and experiences of their carriers and shippers.

"We've interacted with this community constantly, learned what matters to them and seen day after day how Australia deeply depends on its truckers," he says.

The Maas Group founders have made a $3.7 million investment in Freightlancer, while Startive Ventures, a venture fund focused on global technology and internet startup opportunities, also participated in the round.

Cavanagh founded Freightlancer under its previous name Channel 40 in late 2016, "purely out of necessity" for his company EMS Group to connect the dots with transport and truck drivers and freight owners, as there was no real directory to work from.

In 2018 Channel 40 then merged with Freelancer.com to become Freightlancer.com, and it wasn't long after that that EMS became a part of Maas Group.

"18 months ago a few of us local Dubbo businesses all merged together and did a scrip-for-scrip deal to form a larger company, and I'm the second-largest shareholder of Maas Group," explains Cavanagh.

"We listed on 4 December at $2 per share, and now we're just under $5.

"I'm now focusing on getting Freightlancer's investment into market. My ultimate goal is to ring the bell twice - that's the plan."

In addition to the latest $3.7 million investment, Cavanagh says he and Maas have invested approximately $3.5 million over the past 4.5 years. But something had to be done to address the elephant in the room - the presence of Loadshift.

"Loadshift has always been on our target as our primary competitor. It's a different platform, a different method; they're a subscription-style model and we're a commission-style model.

"Nonetheless, Loadshift had the market share and is quite the dominant force in Australia, to the point where it's become a verb. You go and 'Loadshift' something - that's the name that's synonymous in the transport industry, and we saw a lot of value in that business model, hence why we've paid a pretty penny for that business.

"But we've got some big aspirations of our own, and taking over that business was a necessity for us to get there as quickly as we want to get there."

Freelancer.com chief executive Matt Barrie says the company is excited to announced the Loadshift acquisition.

"As a successful digital freight marketplace that has always looked after its carriers and community, Loadshift aligns with Freelancer's mission.

"The acquisition of Loadshift builds on Freightlancer's momentum and continues to deepen our global pool of liquidity for the freight logistics industry, around the world."

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