Smart Lockers

ByBox is a smart locker business in the UK that hasn’t made many inroads in the US, and doesn’t really exist anywhere else yet. This is fascinating new logistics technology. Unfortunately this also seems like a case study of excellent logistics technology with a questionable business model. Founded in 2000, the business was bought in … Read more

Unmanned Kiosks

The unmanned kiosk is here. Or rather it’s been here for some time (history of vending machines, U*tique luxury vending machine 2009, minibar automation, self-serve checkout), but now mobile phones, electronic payments, advanced sensors like facial recognition, China, Amazon Go, the death of malls, and retail automation, are converging together into super sophisticated unmanned kiosks. … Read more

3D Printing

In short: 3D printing is the most exciting logistics technology I’ve seen for completely reinventing a supply chain. We can pick any specific supply chain, explode it on a white board, and likely circle two or three best places to hyper focus on 3D printing solutions with a high confidence the effort is worth it. … Read more

Autonomous Vehicles

I absolutely love this technology, but believe it to be largely an interim technology and thus we passed on this investment. Time will tell if we were right or wrong. The reason we dove into this technology relates to the principal problem with autonomous vehicles: it’s difficult to have repeated failures without causing catastrophe. Autonomous … Read more

Telepresence

In 1990, as a freshman at Stanford, I got involved in research at VPL Research, the first company to sell virtual reality goggles and gloves. My project was to study the applications of virtual reality to surgery. Specifically, my classmate and I used an MRI machine to scan our hands, and create a mathematical model … Read more

Augmented Reality

I just finished watching Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kip­choge set a world record running 26.2 miles in just under 2 hours, and all I could think about were the logistics. Check out the 1:06 mark of this 3 hour video, and watch a pace car beaming a laser onto the track to indicate the required pace … Read more

Cloud-based workflow automation

Ivan Hofmann taught me to build the road, not the people. He learned this first hand when he worked for a trucking company that built the people, and subsequently went out of business when those people left. He then worked for a company that built the road, having everyone document how they did everything in … Read more

Ecommerce logistics platform

The Internet enables small businesses to emulate the bulk buying and online retail of large businesses, but they need global logistical support. That’s why I founded Shipwire in 2006. In my eyes, there are basically two versions of such a network: Fulfillment By Amazon’s walled garden (think iPhone), and Shipwire’s agnostic open platform (think Android). … Read more

Warehouse robots

Kiva Robots, bought by Amazon in 2012 for $775M… 6 River Robots bought by Shopify in 2019 for $450M, with $30M in expected revenue in 2020… A smart buy for Shopify, but the technology is an expensive babysitter for a picker. You don’t get the same storage density that you do with Kiva robots, and you … Read more