Uber for the oceans

USA (San Francisco)

A new industry first in freight shipping is gaining popularity. With rising anticipation of a global emissions tax, land and air-based freight operations could be hit with increased operating costs in the coming years. A startup is changing the future of shipping by removing hassle and improving its connectivity to customers to drum up more business in future.

Flexport describes itself as the world’s first licensed customs brokerage built around an app – and its mission is to change the process of freight transport for importers in the way that Uber has revolutionised road transport. Software provides customers with information about tariffs, customs, and other logistics to allow for comparison between variables, such as port location, shipping dates, container vessel type and cost between different transport businesses. In digitising the ordering process, it allows informed and resourceful international shipping choices, reduces paperwork and research effort, and connects several transport companies directly with customers – much like a price-comparison website.

In modernising the shipping market system, it may become a preferred method of freight transport, as compared to airplane, train or road freight. A shift in transport type may alleviate build-up of greenhouse gases, as lorry freight can produce six times more CO2 than shipping. Air freight is 40 times less carbon-efficient than sea.

Adapted from a piece by Gillian Phair for the Futures Centre.

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (21 September 2015)

Project leader

Ryan Petersen, Chief Executive Officer

Support the Atlas

We want the Atlas of the Future media platform and our event to be available to everybody, everywhere for free – always. Fancy helping us spread stories of hope and optimism to create a better tomorrow? For those able, we'd be grateful for any donation.

Creative Commons License



Take me somewhere
Take me somewhere
Data Protection Act: LOPD.
In compliance with Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 of December, on Personal Data Protection, and the development of Rules of Procedure, approved by Royal Decree 1720/2007, of 21 of December, Atlas of the Future subscribers may be required to provide Personal Data, which will be included in a file owned by Democratising The Future Society SL. Such file is duly incorporated in the Spanish Data Protection Agency and protected in compliance with the security measures established in the applicable legislation. Subscribers may exercise, at any time, their rights of access, rectification, cancellation and/or opposition regarding their Personal Data. The subscriber shall notice their will, either under written form addressed to Democratising The Future Society SL, Ref. LOPD, Calabria, 10 6-3 08015 - Barcelona (Spain) and/or by e-mail, clicking here. Also, the subscriber shall communicate Atlas of the Future any modifications of their Personal Data stored, so that the information stored by Atlas of the Future remains at all times updated and error-free.
Get World-changing projects and news in your inbox weekly.