A couple of former Uber Freight employees have launched an on-demand employment platform. Historically the culture of trucking has centered on the idea of the independent owner-operator in control of his or her destiny, says CEO and co-founder Tim Henry. “Haul is about how we can get that same relationship to work without the liability of owning a truck,” he adds.
There are 36 million trucks in the U.S and about 3.6 million drivers with commercial driver’s license, says Toan Nguyen Le, Haul’s CTO and co-founder. But of those drivers, around 3 million don’t own their trucks. “The problem is not the truck,” Le says. “It’s not having the driver in that truck.” Haul fills that gap with what is essentially a modern-day staffing service: a digital service that connects fleets with a qualified pool of on-demand drivers to operate their trucks. Truck driver temp agencies have been around for decades but the industry today is “eerily similar” to the brokerage space 20 years ago, asserts Le, since it still relies heavily on manual communication such as phones, faxes, and email to hire, vet and deploy drivers.
Haul’s cloud-based service offers drivers and customers a more tech-enabled experience — from giving drivers the option to choose their loads to alert them via app as to exactly how much money they earned as soon as the job is completed. Its tactics include finding assignments for its drivers within an hour radius of where they live, and bypassing long haul trucking in favor of private, dedicated, local fleets.
Haul has made its drivers (‘W-2’) employees (and not independent contractors) as a way to precede the development such as the one taking place in the state of California, where courts have ruled ride-hailing companies to reclassify drivers as employees. This would be a way to combine the possibilities of the gig economy and digitization with basic employee security, rights, and benefits. Still, trucking and logistics can be a complex business, and the fact that you hold a commercial driver’s license might not be enough to guarantee safe, reliable, and experienced operation of different trucks and cargo (not least from an insurance point of view). It also remains to be seen if the focus on regional operations (closer to drivers’ homes) will hold, but maybe they are betting on automation to take care of the long-haul highway stretches and mostly see drivers come in for the first-, middle-, and last mile.
Written by Victor Malmsten Lundgren, RISE Mobility & Systems.
1. 2020-09-09. Uber Freight alumni launch an Uber for freight