Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


ConnXus Envisions a Next-Generation Supplier Network With myConnXion: Vendor Snapshot Update

supplier management

ConnXus has grown in less than a decade from a specialized supplier diversity compliance tracking service to a notable provider of supplier relationship management solutions.

As Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Supplier Relationship Management and Risk SolutionMap indicates, ConnXus offers mid- to top-tier functionality for capabilities including supplier performance management, risk management, configurability and services — making it a recommended fit for all five supplier management personas and a Value Leader in two personas: Nimble and Turn-Key. The Mason, Ohio-based solution provider has driven these results primarily by supporting procurement organizations in their efforts to identify, qualify and introduce the right suppliers, including the right diversity suppliers, into global supply chains.

Recently, however, ConnXus expanded the scope of its offering with the introduction of myConnXion, a platform that connects buyers and suppliers into a single network where both sides can create, edit and share their profiles with anyone (even users outside of the network). While myConnXion may appear to be an incremental evolution for ConnXus, filling in some of the core supplier information and master data management functional gaps that handicap it relative to other providers, the new platform is also more than that. Going forward, myConnXion will be the foundation for ConnXus to pursue all future innovations, including ambitions for a global e-sourcing capability and blockchain-based compliance tracking.

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews ConnXus’ new myConnXion platform and explains why it’s more than just another supplier network concept for procurement organizations looking to tackle supplier diversity tracking. It is an addendum to our previous review and analysis of ConnXus.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 4)

Today, I’ll share a critical 10th prediction (arguably the most important of all) of our M&A predictions series. Please allow me to indulge my last prediction in a folksy, CliffsNotes way to get both the seasoned experts on sector deals — of which we can count on just a few fingers — and everyone else on the same page as to what’s really happening.

In the third installment, I shared three additional predictions exploring how the procurement technology landscape is shifting as we enter 2019. The most recent prognostications centered on the rising intersection of procurement technology with payment and financing as a consolidation driver, more sellers engaging in proactive processes and unorthodox groups of strategic buyers emerging from left field on some deals.

These predictions build on the second installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, during which I explored an expanding focus on services procurement (assets), the increasing interest in strategic procurement technologies (SPT) and the scarcity of e-procurement and procure-to-pay targets left in the market.

And in the first installment in the series, I analyzed the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of 10 prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon effect."

Happy holidays everyone and happy deal hunting in 2019! Let’s get into the final prediction.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 3)

In the second installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, I explored an expanding focus on services procurement (assets), the increasing acquisition interest in strategic procurement technologies among buyers, and the scarcity of e-procurement and procure-to-pay targets left in the market. This builds on the first installment in the series, in which I explored the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of 10 prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon” effect.

Today we turn our attention to three additional predictions. Everyone who knows me in this space knows that my greatest weakness is to wax on — not usually eloquently. So I’ll try to go straight to the point with the next predictions in the 2019 procurement technology and solutions M&A lineup.

Tradeshift Buys Babelway: A ‘First Take’ Analysis

Earlier today, Tradeshift announced it had acquired Babelway — a technology provider that straddles the line between a cloud integration broker/hub and electronic data interchange (EDI) enablement. It will provide integration services to Tradeshift customers.

This Spend Matters PRO “First Take” analysis offers additional insight on what we know about Babelway and what it does (in plain English), insight into the acquisition/rationale, and a cursory analysis of what it means to Tradeshift customers, partners and competitors.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 2)

In the first installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, I explored the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of ten prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon” effect.

Our next three predictions have a common theme: modules and areas within the procurement technology spectrum that are heating up. (Incidentally, general situational awareness is more important than ever as more and more buyers — including strategic and financial, not to mention a new type: financial backing strategic — think about putting dry powder to work and sellers evaluate their options.) So, let’s dive right in.

Supplier Management: Dozens of Markets in One (Market Introduction)

supplier management

The supplier management technology and services market is one of the broadest, most complex and mysterious to those who try to make sense of it — and take advantage of the many solutions that it offers. Spend Matters tracks well over 100 providers in this market, and they fall into more than a dozen individual areas. Some vendors and services firms offer solutions that address multiple components, but not a single provider comes close to offering a comprehensive solution.

This Spend Matters PRO Research brief explains and segments the supplier management market into five solution categories: core supplier process and data enablement; supplier and supply chain risk; community/network; supplier and worker/contractor; and disruptive enablement.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 1)

It’s that time of year. And no, I’m not referring to eggnog (even the vegan sort, of which I’m partial to) and good holiday cheer alone. Nor am I referring to tech providers complaining about their latest SolutionMap scores (a byproduct of the fact that the real world is not “up and to the right”). Rather, the object of this statement is my old stomping ground — the original reason I got into this sector as junior corporate development runt at Freemarkets 20 years ago — and where I still spend too much time today: M&A.

Just as I’m about to take off and look forward to a few days in a warmer climate than Chicago with the family, sector M&A interest is heating up again from all sides and threatening the seasonal vacation. This seems to happen most Decembers as firms and companies begin to look at what’s on the potential table for the new calendar year (and realize just how fast that year is approaching).

But this year is different — there is more interest than ever from a demand perspective, and it’s coming from all angles at often very different sectors and targets. Despite this perhaps rational exuberance, I’m not letting it ruin my vacation. I’m getting too old for that stuff. So rather than go “one-to-one” in advice with my clients, in the spirit of the rise of many-to-many marketplaces again — remember the “fat butterfly” model from the original B2B.com implosion, anyone? — I thought I’d author an M&A outlook for 2019.

So read on. Today, I’ll start by providing a list of the M&A deals that occurred in 2018 and sharing our full Spend Matters coverage to date. And then I’ll tackle our first three of 10 M&A predictions for 2019 (with the remainder to follow in the coming week).

Coupa and Hiperos: Customer Recommendations

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides analysis in support of Hiperos and Coupa customers following this week’s news that Coupa is acquiring Hiperos.

We’ve examined the implications of the deal on the supplier management landscape and done a head-to-head comparison of the providers.

Now this brief includes recommendations for immediate steps and longer-term considerations that are generic to procurement technology M&A transactions in general — such as change of control clause implications — and specific to this acquisition.

We encourage Spend Matters PRO practitioner clients who are using or considering Hiperos to contact us for more information on how the acquisition could affect them.

Now read on to get the customer/prospect recommendations for Hiperos and Coupa.

Coupa and Hiperos: Supplier Management, Compliance and Risk Landscape Implications

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores the competitive implications of the Coupa-Hiperos transaction on the supplier management landscape. The analysis includes summary sector M&A implications and summary landscape/competitive implications. It also explores the potential impact on closer competitors to Hiperos (e.g., Aravo), more distant, network and community oriented peers (e.g., Achilles, Avetta, Browz, etc.); and “sleeping giants” on the periphery of the market such as D&B and Thomson Reuters.

Perhaps most relevant of all, as “compliance as a service” becomes more commonplace as a component of source-to-pay systems in areas ranging from supplier qualification to transactional/invoicing areas, we believe these latter groups may begin to come into contact with Coupa for the first time as the worlds of supplier intelligence and hybrid software, network and compliance collide in a networked manner across various industries.

Coupa buying Hiperos: Acquisition Facts, Analysis and Insight

Just this morning Coupa announced it was acquiring Hiperos as a carve-out transaction from Opus, which previously owned the supplier management, compliance and risk management solution provider. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides background and quick facts on Hiperos. It also offers analysis and insight on what the transaction brings to Coupa from a capability perspective and attempts to answer the question: Why Hiperos?

Subsequent Spend Matters subscription briefs (PRO and SolutionMap Insider) will provide insight and analysis of the transaction by exploring the competitive implications of the acquisition for the supplier management and compliance market, offering additional customer insight and recommendations and providing a “Head-to-Head” analysis of Coupa and Hiperos from a supplier-management capability perspective.

Read this briefing to find out more about what Coupa is getting and possible reasons behind the Hiperos deal.

Efficio Panel Debate: Good Banter, Robot Jokes and 3 Points About the Future of Procurement

Last week in London I participated in one of the livelier and more spirited panel debates on the future of procurement (skills, technology and more) in recent memory. The event, held at Efficio’s offices Thursday to mark the release of its latest report, “Procurement 2025: Is Digital Transformation Driving More Effective Procurement,” included not only a handful of esteemed panelists and facilitators from the procurement/CPO, consulting and academic ranks, but also a robot — which led to many robotic process automation jokes throughout the discourse. If Efficio does something like this again, ask them for an invitation — you won’t be disappointed!

Here are three points that stuck in my mind from the different panel discussions and chats that I had.

Basware vs. Tradeshift: Accounts Payable, Invoicing and Supplier Network Head-to-Head Comparison

On the surface, Basware and Tradeshift appear to deliver similar invoice-to-pay technology capabilities as two of the top-ranked SolutionMap analyst picks for this area. (Note: We include e-invoicing, accounts payable automation, supplier network and related capabilities as components of invoice-to-pay.) After all, both beat the average functional benchmark score in the Spend Matters Q4 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap, which publishes Dec. 4, by a material percentage.

But when you unpack how Basware and Tradeshift compare in the two “best” and core areas in which they compete, comparative strengths and weaknesses begin to emerge. Such nuances could prove all the more important when analyzing how customers and potential customers should think about each provider given the potential for them to join forces as a single, merged entity.

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q4 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit Basware and Tradeshift against each other in the invoice-to-pay evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In certain invoice-to-pay categories — which include supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services, invoicing, payment/financing and overall invoice-to-pay scoring — Basware gets the nod. But in many others, Tradeshift takes the prize. Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different organizational requirements. There’s no debate that invoice-to-pay selection processes will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs.