Convoy is adding two new senior executives to lead marketing and revenue, capping a year of massive growth following a funding round that vaulted the on-demand trucking company into the rarefied realm of billion-dollar startups.
The company — backed by high-profile investors including Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates and Google’s venture capital arm — has hired Amazon Web Services general manager Ryan Gavin as its new vice president of global marketing and communications, and PayScale chief sales officer Melissa McCann-Tilton as its new vice president of revenue.
They’re the latest additions to a company that has grown to 750 employees, doubling its headcount over the past year, primarily at its Seattle headquarters.
Convoy operates a nationwide digital freight network that uses technology to automatically match shippers with carriers, better utilizing trucks that traverse the country. The company’s growth comes as Uber’s initial public offering brings new attention to the sector via its Uber Freight division, which competes with Convoy.
“We have a game-changing opportunity in front of us,” Convoy CEO Dan Lewis said in an interview about the executive hires. “I’ve always thought of this as a massive business, but also a scenario where we can rewrite the rules. So we need executives that are also game-changing in terms of how they think about business.”
Gavin was most recently general manager of marketing for artificial intelligence and machine learning at Amazon Web Services, which he joined last year after nearly 20 years at Microsoft in a variety of marketing leadership roles. Gavin said he was drawn to the Convoy role because of the “enormous” opportunity to reshape a critical industry, an estimated $800 billion market in the U.S. alone.
He drew parallels to the way Amazon changed computing by leading the industry’s shift to distributed infrastructure in the cloud.
“Convoy has a very similar approach — it’s reinventing this decades-old, very manual business of matching truck drivers to shippers through the use of machine-learning technologies,” Gavin said. “We talk about the cloud computing category, and it’s a well-understood concept, and it’s entrenched, but that wasn’t the case 13 years ago with AWS. I think we’re at a similar stage with Convoy and the traditional trucking industry.”
As an example, Convoy said in February that its technology was making automated matches of shippers and carriers 100 percent of the time in its top markets, and the company says its automated matching rate has risen from 95 percent to 97 percent nationally since then.
At PayScale, McCann-Tilton’s departure is the latest in a series of executive changes since Francisco Partners took a majority ownership stake in the Seattle-based compensation data company in April. PayScale said this week that longtime CEO Mike Metzger has stepped down, succeeded by SAP Concur veteran Scott Torrey.
McCann-Tilton’s experience includes five years leading marketing at Cobalt Group, the automotive digital marketing company, leading up to its acquisition by ADP in 2010. She compared that experience, helping auto dealers shift to digital advertising, to her newly announced role at Convoy, helping the trucking industry transition to the digital era.
“It’s such a huge market, and it really needs this level of efficiency to be brought into the space,” she said. “If we do this properly, it will actually be better for the environment in the end, because we won’t have all of this wasted space, wasted trucking capacity and inefficient use of these valuable resources.”
Convoy says nearly 40 percent of all miles driven by trucks in the U.S. are “empty miles” under traditional systems of logistics and shipping, creating a large opportunity.
Founded in 2015 by Lewis and CTO Grant Goodale, Convoy has raised $265 million to date, including a $185 million Series C round last September led by CapitalG, the late-stage venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet.
As a privately held company, Convoy doesn’t disclose financial results publicly, but Uber’s earnings reports provide a sense for the sector’s growth. In its latest quarterly report, Uber said revenue in its Other Bets category, largely driven by Uber Freight, tripled to $340 million in the first half of the year.
Although Uber’s IPO put a spotlight on Uber Freight, Lewis said the Convoy’s primary competition still comes from traditional large-asset carriers and brokers. In that way, he said, the attention being paid to Uber Freight has benefited Convoy. “We’re creating a new category,” he said. “Anytime there are new companies coming into the space that have a digital angle, the industry naturally says, ‘OK, well, this shift is for real. This is happening.’ ”
Gavin started Monday in his new role as Convoy vice president of global marketing and communications; and McCann-Tilton will begin as Convoy vice president of revenue in early September.
Editor’s Note: Ryan Gavin’s title has been corrected since publication.