Tradeshift Analyst Day Dispatch: “Do You Want Amazon to Own Your Supplier Relationships?”

On a well-timed East Coast swing, Lisa Reisman (Azul Partners’ fearless CEO) and I dropped by New York City for Tradeshift’s analyst day, the Tradeshift Innovation Summit. I think this is the first technology event (except Azul Partners’ own a couple years back) that I’ve been to with Lisa since we first met at a Net Market Makers event in Berkeley back in 1999.

My, how time flies (yes, there’s an inside joke here for those who know us).

We’ll report on the activities from today in a couple of posts on Spend Matters throughout the afternoon and share our analysis of the day in a Spend Matters PRO article tomorrow as well as offer up a Tradeshift “Head-to-Head” SolutionMap Insider comparison on Friday.

Let’s begin.

Christian Lanng, Tradeshift’s founder and CEO, kicked off the afternoon with a history lesson, drawing the parallel between Salesforce and the path he suggests that Tradeshift is on. He began his talk by noting that in 1999, Oracle, Siebel and SAP were “fighting it out over CRM” when the market was “fragmented, verticalized and on-premise.” But Salesforce came along with a different vision, building “software for the end-user” with an emphasis on “cloud” and eventually its “app” platform.

While it took Salesforce 10 years to hit $1 billion in revenue, it is approaching the $10 billion threshold based on its current run rate today, growing year-over-year by 25% based on Q1 2018 revenue numbers. Christian’s big lesson from this is that “revolution takes time” but that with a “radical focus on end-users” and “better unit economics with cloud” it not only can be sustainable, but can shift the entire basis of how technology is used in a specific market.

Lanng noted that “what we stole from Benioff” was a “fanatical focus on end-users” and the “app platform” concept with the “mission of becoming everything that sits between organizations and their suppliers” — with a functional emphasis on invoicing, procurement, supplier management, supply chain finance and payments.

But Tradeshift does not want to sell “modules” first, as Salesforce did. It wants to sell the platform and all the apps that go along with it. As important, it does not want the be compared head-to-head against procurement and finance technology competitors. Specifically, Lanng noted that “we do not refer to procure-to-pay” anymore.

Rather, the emphasis is on “broader connectivity,” including building solutions for “mid-tail” and “long-tail” spend enablement and helping companies create their own private marketplaces, in part as a counter to Amazon Business.

Lanng asked the audience rhetorically: “Do you want Amazon to own your supplier relationships?” Another Lanng quip that might become a classic? Perhaps.

Stay tuned as our coverage continue.

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