Dave Clark spent two decades building Amazon.com’s sprawling logistics network. Now, he is trying to do it again at a very different kind of business.
As chief executive of Flexport—a 10-year old, San Francisco-based freight forwarder looking to bring digital tools to the shipping business—Clark said he plans to build a transport network to rival the Amazon fulfillment operations that are aimed at the consumer market.
Clark spoke with the Logistics Report about his plans at Flexport and his outlook for the shipping economy. A podcast of the full interview is available here. Edited excerpts are below:
WSJ: Why did you leave Amazon? And what brought you to Flexport?
Clark: I had a great career at Amazon. I spent about 23 years there and grew up in operations, supply-chain geek in the company, and spent almost all my career there really building out what you know as the modern Amazon logistics infrastructure. And then took over the CEO [of Worldwide Consumer] role.
In that role, I really enjoyed the job, but it took me away from what I really love. I really love working with teams to build things. And I love this intersection of the physical world with technology and mechatronics, like robotics. So this intersection of trying to move things around, trying to integrate robotics and technology with it, and trying to lead large groups of people who do that work.
I decided I wanted to try to do it again. I wanted to go back to a smaller company and start over with a great team of people and see if we could do it again. At Amazon, we built it for Amazon and for the sellers who use Amazon, and we wanted to see if we could build it for everyone else.
WSJ: Your plan at Flexport is to build a platform that allows merchants to manage goods from factories through to customer doorsteps in one place. Big retailers like Amazon and Walmart have their own fulfillment services for merchants. How do you plan to compete?
Clark: Several of these companies offer really great fulfillment services optimized for their sales channel, whether it be Walmart or Amazon and others. But most of them don’t offer a way to fulfill in all the channels.
Lots of businesses want to sell in many stores. They want to sell in the mall, they want to sell in their own store, they want to sell on Amazon, they want to sell in Walmart. They want to be on Facebook and TikTok.
The challenge is you don’t want to have to buy inventory to put in all of these different fulfillment solutions, and people don’t want to spend their time solving complicated supply chain issues.
What we want to do is fill that gap. We want to take and handle your supply chain no matter where you want to sell. We’ll do everything from delivering to your retail store if you have them, delivering to the mall, delivering to your consumer’s front door, or delivering to Walmart and Amazon so that it can be shipped off their platform.
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