Maersk Investe na startup Loadsmart de reservas de frete

Maersk’s venture investment arm is part of a $21.6 million funding round in the New York startup
A Maersk container ship departs a port in southern Spain. PHOTO: A.CARRASCO RAGEL/EPA-EFE/REX/SHU/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

A.P. Moeller-Maersk (AMKBY -0.09%) A/S is investing in U.S. freight-booking startup Loadsmart Inc. as the container shipping giant works to extend its services beyond maritime transportation.

Maersk’s venture investment arm is leading a $21.6 million Series A funding round for Loadsmart, together with Connor Capital SB and Chromo Invest. Maersk said its stake in the New York-based company provides “huge potential” for integrating its ocean-shipping services with Loadsmart’s trucking technology.

The startup, which focuses on booking full-truckload shipments for such shippers as Daimler AG , Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and Electrolux AB, says it will use the funds primarily to reach new customers.

“We lead with technology and we complement it with strategic partnerships that accelerate our mission to move more with less,” said Loadsmart Chief Executive Ricardo Salgado.

Loadsmart is in a growing lineup of companies offering new technology to upgrade often-antiquated systems in the shipping business, to facilitate booking and the tracking of goods through supply chains. By synthesizing shipment data in the cloud, the new technologies can provide live status updates, auto-populate paperwork and reduce wait times for pickups and drop-offs at warehouses, ports, rail yards and other freight hubs.

“We want to deliver end-to-end solutions to our customers,” said Sune Stilling of venture investment arm Maersk Growth. Loadsmart and its technology are “a great fit for our longer-term vision,” he said. “We think of it as pieces of the puzzle.” Maersk Growth also has invested in supply-chain tech startups SensorTransport, and TeleSense Inc., according to a company spokesman.

Natan Reddy, an analyst with CB Insights, noted that other large shipping companies are investing more in supply-chain startups. Maersk is “trying to get in on this rising tide of supply-chain technology we’re seeing coming up,” he said.

French container line CMA CGM SA this year opened what it calls an incubator for digital startups looking to bring technology to shipping.

Mr. Reddy said Loadsmart should benefit from hooking up with Maersk given its prominence in the container-shipping business.

“The players that I see as having the most runway into the future…are focused more on connecting with existing players in the system rather than those looking to replace existing players,” he said.