Since its founding in 2015, sennder, which started off as a small university project has grown into Europe's leading logistics company. Since our merger with Everoad earlier this year, we have continued to keep the momentum going. This September, sennder reached one of its biggest milestones so far through the acquisition of Uber Freight Europe. The acquisition has further strengthened our position as the number one freight forwarder in Europe as well as our geographical expansion to the Netherlands with our new office in Amsterdam. This is strategically important for sennder as the Netherlands is one of the most important transportation hubs in Europe. Nearly every parcel delivered in Europe will have seen the Netherlands on its way. The physical presence here will support sennder’s ambitious continuous growth plans and talent attraction initiatives.
Thomas Christenson of Uber Freight Europe is bringing his expertise, best practices, and years of experience in the tech and freight sectors to his new role as sennder’s Chief Operating Officer.
You have a breadth of experience in the logistics sector. Can you tell us more about your career?
I spent five years with Amazon before joining Uber. During my time at Amazon I had the privilege of launching, running, and scaling a business called Seller Fulfilled Prime. This was the first experience where I had an in-depth understanding around how logistics can change lives and how, frankly, inefficient logistics can be. By creating Seller Fulfilled Prime, we built technology that allowed Amazon to make a “prime promise” to customers based on our detailed knowledge of a shipper's operations and logistics’ capabilities. It was great to create the capability to enable millions of new products to be delivered to customers like fresh fish and Christmas trees with a Prime promise.
Following Amazon, what was your role at Uber Freight?
I joined Uber to help scale the freight business in Europe. I liked the idea of being a digital freight broker between two sets of customers, the shipper and the transportation provider. What we are trying to do is increase the transparency between these two buyers and sellers to remove inefficiencies from the marketplace and at the same time reduce costs and improve quality around the business itself.
What does the acquisition of Uber Freight Europe mean for the future of sennder?
The Uber Freight Europe team brings a significant portfolio of expertise on building scalable processes while sennder is offering a lot of technology know-how capabilities, to make processes lean, seamless and digital. In our future world, manual, repetitive tasks will be done by machines and employees can focus on harder problems and more creative tasks.
It’s good to see the talent that was built at Uber will now contribute to sennder’s scaling. I've really enjoyed my deep dives into the sennder technology suite - it is a very robust technology that was built for Europe by Europeans. The team is also excited to work with sennder’s technology, it's something we are very passionate about. We now have 100+ dedicated engineers for European carriers and shippers that are not going to have any distractions from building for anything else or any other geography.
The best thing about the combination of Uber Freight Europe and sennder is how both of us are so dedicated to the carrier experience. Our target is to make the trucker’s life and business better. We want to be the facilitator for more freight opportunities, drive the digitalization that will lead to higher efficiency, and create an ecosystem that is so awesome that it would be irresponsible for a carrier to NOT work with us.
What is your focus as the new Chief Operating Officer of sennder?
I'm taking over the responsibility for shipper operations, carrier operations, and pricing - in a nutshell the core operations of sennder. I will also be focusing with David and the leadership team on the evolution of the sennder business model to be a product led culture. I saw during my time at Amazon that product and operations are inextricably linked. Therefore, one of the key themes that I will be driving going forward, is the concept of product management embedded within operations. This will allow us to build products and tech that have a clear focus on the customers that use them.
What is your vision for the freight sector?
What inspires me most when I talk to our shippers and carriers is that I hear stories of tremendous inefficiency. For example, unnecessary detention while truckers are waiting to drop off a load that could instead be scheduled more efficiently. Therefore, by introducing technology we're increasing the degree of transparency in the marketplace and helping it to move more seamlessly. Digitizing the information about where the trucks are and by being a clear conduit between the shipper and the carrier, can certainly eliminate some of those outdated processes.
sennder’s fundamental mission, Thomas concludes, is to remove the challenges and inefficiencies associated with the transportation of goods across borders within Europe. Once that has been achieved, costs will be lower and experiences improved for both the carriers and shippers.
The new sennder COO hopes that this mission will become an increasing reality. He adds that coming from his background “It's always day one because there's always something new that we need to invent.” So far, he believes sennder is very much having an impact on specific lanes and specific routes. Thomas believes that in not much more than 12 to 18 months we're going to see the growth rate double and in another 36 months triple again.“ It's something that I'm measuring on a monthly basis because the growth rate is so phenomenal and it's a non-linear impact in the overall industry, very much like the flywheel effect of the marketplace of Amazon. I imagine we're on a similar trajectory”, he concludes.