The M&A Category

Coupa Buys Aquiire, Adding to Its Lead in Catalog Search and Front-End Shopping Usability

Coupa is buying Aquiire, a provider of e-procurement software that brings notable capabilities in real-time search and catalog management, for an undisclosed sum, the company announced Monday. In purchasing Aquiire, Coupa gains not only additional modern front-end shopping capabilities (some might argue among the most advanced) but also a complement to the industry-leading catalog management technology it gained from acquiring Simeno in December 2017.

Apttus Acquired by Thoma Bravo: Can a One-Time Sell-Side ‘Unicorn’ Become a Viable Pony for Buy-Side CLM? [PRO]

Apttus announced recently that it would be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Calling itself a leader  in the “middle office,” Apttus offers a platform primarily focused in the area of configure, price, quote (CPQ), but it also supports enterprise contract lifecycle management (CLM).

The terms of the acquisition were undisclosed, but given the majority stake being acquired, the deal is likely worth many hundreds of millions of dollars, given that Apttus had roughly $200 million in revenue for calendar year 2017 and had also accumulated more than $400 million in investments to date.

Back in 2015, Apttus was riding high and hoped to go public in 2016. Unfortunately, Salesforce, upon whose platform Apttus was built, bought Apttus’ smaller competitor, SteelBrick, in December 2015. Salesforce, in its never-ending quest for growth, wanted to directly enter the CPQ space and perhaps hoped to prevent a new mega competitor from spawning (even though Salesforce Ventures was an investor in Apttus — and in SteelBrick).  

Regardless, the move was clearly a body blow to Apttus. The firm put on a brave face and even managed to garner late stage investors rushing to hopefully get in on a big IPO, but soon things began to change. Growth slowed, layoffs ensued and longtime CEO Kirk Krappe quietly left this summer.

All of these types of changes are difficult in their own right, but when investors want returns out of their large investments, company working conditions often deteriorate, and many of the best employees leave, which leads management to cut back in certain areas that once seemed so promising — including an area such as source-to-pay.

Which brings us to why we’re writing about Apttus here on the buy side of the world.

Apttus does have CLM capabilities, and the CLM solution actually seems decent. It has all of the major elements in terms of clause libraries, templates, playbooks/wizards, redlining, MS-Word integration, “intelligent” clause search and so on. But its CLM product almost seems to play a supporting role in Apttus’ core focus on the sell-side CPQ suite. We have backed this up through numerous discussions with active and alumni Apttus CLM customers, partners and prospective customers.

Based on our discussions with the stakeholders mentioned above, the product is sound, but it’s not quite on par with high end players like Icertis and Exari. And it doesn’t feature broader process functionality found in source-to-pay suites, some of whom actually have CLM modules that can be used for sell-side contracts, too.

The remainder of this Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Apttus’ buy-side CLM solution in terms of its strengths and weaknesses and provides additional context about how buy-side CLM is positioned in the Apttus portfolio. If you are a corporate practitioner and interested in discussing buy-side (or enterprise-wide) CLM, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

GHX’s Purchase of Medical Columbus is a Blueprint for Global Expansion and Future Acquisitions

Although disruption may be a popular buzzword in boardrooms, one of the more striking features of business today — especially in healthcare — is the entrenchment of the established order. So, when a relative youngster like the Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) quickly finds its way into “the club" (and is changing the way business is conducted), it's notable. Having successfully planted itself as a connector and enabler of business between increasingly supersized health systems and an even more powerful supply side, GHX has done just that. 

Coupa’s DCR Acquisition: Analyzing the Move (Part 2) — Strategic Context and Differences Between Labor and Goods Ecosystems [PRO]

Even discounting the technological capabilities DCR Workforce brings customers, Coupa’s recent acquisition of the VMS provider is a watershed event for the procurement software market. Specifically, it signals to the market a coming together of technology offerings for services procurement and indirect source-to-pay solutions.

As we observed in our previous brief in this series, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass did not have a compelling reason in the immediate years following SAP’s acquisition of both companies to “work as one” in developing, positioning and selling the joint value proposition of one source-to-pay portal for buyers and suppliers that spanned indirect and services spend in a single go-to-market effort. In contrast, Coupa is on a different track — one that SAP is now starting to follow, as well — in uniting these two disparate solution areas and business functions inside companies.

But humans are not SKUs, which is one topic among many that we’ll discuss as we explore the context of Coupa’s strategic acquisition in this research brief. We’ll also explain the key sector differences between the services procurement/VMS market and indirect-centric procure-to-pay and source-to-pay solutions.

Just coming up to speed? In the first two components of this series covering Coupa’s recent acquisition of DCR Workforce, we provided an overview of the acquisition itself and a review of the DCR solution set.

We also shared our view on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the DCR solution prior to the acquisition, along with an overview of the broader competitive landscape that will be relevant as DCR now becomes “Coupa Contingent Workforce.”

In this section of the series, Part 1 explored the history and context of services procurement and indirect procurement from the perspective of both Coupa and the broader market. It also provided context based on the differences between how SAP pursued the market initially with Ariba and Fieldglass following its acquisition of both vendors.

Coupa’s Acquisition of DCR Workforce: Analyzing the Move (Part 1) — History, Context and SAP [PRO]

In the first two briefs in this ongoing series covering Coupa’s recent acquisition of DCR Workforce, we provided an overview of the acquisition itself along with a review of the DCR solution set. We also shared our view on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the DCR solution prior to the acquisition, as well as an overview of the broader competitive landscape that will be relevant as DCR now becomes “Coupa Contingent Workforce.”

As our analysis continues, we turn our attention to what the DCR Workforce acquisition could mean for Coupa as a developer of technology solutions and as a business in the indirect procurement software sector. Spend Matters believes the deal is the most significant strategic bet Coupa has made since the vendor shifted its strategy from providing open source e-procurement to what it is today. But is Coupa (and the market) ready for such a shift?

Coupa Acquires DCR Workforce (Part 2): DCR Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

The contingent workforce (CW/S) technology sector could benefit from daylight when it comes to visibility into how “good” solutions actually are. Within the vendor management system (VMS) market specifically, there are various market dynamics that have led to an opaque situation in the past, in which limited information transparency exists. And when it does, this information can be often “overlooked” for various reasons when organizations are making technology-buying decisions.

Pardon the baseball analogy, but we’re still on the first at-bat in the first inning in trying to create a degree of transparency ourselves with Spend Matters CW/S SolutionMap, which launched last week, albeit with only a subset of the market’s top vendors participating in the first round launch — something we suspect will change in the coming quarters. If you’re curious to take a look, you can skim the free ranking charts for Q3 2018 (Independent Contract Workers, Temporary Staffing and Contract Services/Statement of Work). And if you want to review the true, transparent details yourself, see our SolutionMap Insider reports and ratings, as well.

While in our view the CW/S technology market trends more to capability/technology obfuscation than enlightened cloud transparency among procurement and HR organizations, DCR Workforce stands out as one of the few providers driving innovation at multiple levels, including its embrace of artificial intelligence (AI).

But how good is it really? This Spend Matters PRO research brief (Part 2 in our series covering the Coupa acquisition of DCR; see Part 1: Acquisition Analysis and Competitive Landscape Segmentation) provides a primer for those that want to answer that question. It is based on prior Spend Matters PRO research content, with new updates and insights included. (Granted, we cover the strengths and weaknesses on what we would consider a summary level by our standards, given that we consider more than 400 individual CW/S functional requirements as part of our SolutionMap analysis. But you’ve got to start somewhere.)

Coupa Acquires DCR Workforce: First Take Analysis and Competitive Landscape Segmentation [PRO]

Coupa recently announced it had acquired the technology assets of DCR Workforce, a leading provider of contingent workforce/services (CW/S) procurement software. By so doing, Coupa has taken a giant leap forward in providing its clients a comprehensive platform that will now include the option of industrial-strength CW/S sourcing and management capabilities.

For many organizations, CW/S spend (including temporary staffing, independent contract workers and a broad range of categories of services provided by external suppliers) represents a considerable portion of external spend (including good and materials). And much of this spend — particularly outside of temporary staffing — is unmanaged today, in terms of procurement or HR’s ability to fully influence and orchestrate it.

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we take an in-depth look at what the acquisition of DCR means for Coupa and DCR, as well as to their customers. In Part 1 of this series, we look at what Coupa is getting by acquiring DCR, in terms of both business strategy and DCR’s specific capabilities. Based on DCR’s footprint, we also segment the competitive landscape into six primary competitor types.

Part 2 will consider DCR’s strengths and weaknesses within the competitive CW/S market. Subsequent PRO briefs will examine customer recommendations, competitive landscape implications and related considerations.

Coupa Acquires DCR Workforce, Giving its Services Maestro a Full Symphony Orchestra

Coupa announced Tuesday it had acquired the technology assets of DCR Workforce, a Boca Raton, Florida-based vendor management system (VMS) provider, according to a press release. Coming on the heels of Labor Day, Coupa could not have picked a more appropriate holiday week to expand its services procurement and labor footprint. DCR’s software enables businesses to source and manage contingent workforce and services. The DCR solution will now be marketed as Coupa Contingent Workforce, part of Coupa’s broader platform.

Veraction Merges With Trax Technologies: A Q&A with CEO Chris Connell (Part 2)

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The transportation management industry is big, fragmented and ripe for disruption. In Part 1 of this interview with Chris Connell, CEO of Trax Group and former CEO of Veraction, we discussed the June merger of the two companies into a combined transportation spend management, freight audit and payments solution. Today, in Part 2, we conclude the conversation with a forecast of where the transportation and logistics markets are going, the potential asteroid that could disturb the whole ecosystem (hint: it involves Amazon) and how Trax fits into that future.

Veraction Merges With Trax Technologies: A Q&A with CEO Chris Connell (Part 1)

Earlier this summer, Veraction, a provider of transportation spend management and freight audit software, announced it would merge with Trax technologies, a provider of global freight audit and payments solutions. The combined company, which is retaining the Trax name, manages more than $10 billion in logistics spending across all transportation modes for more than 300 enterprise customers, according to a press release. To learn more about the transaction, as well as what companies like Trax can offer to procurement and supply chain organizations, we sat down with Chris Connell, former CEO of Veraction and now CEO of the combined Trax Group.

Beeline and New Mountain Capital: A Conversation With Doug Leeby (Part 2)

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Beeline’s recent acquisition by private equity firm New Mountain Capital has certainly been the biggest event in the contingent workforce and services sector this summer. To learn more about what the acquisition means for Beeline and the workforce management software market in general, we caught up with Doug Leeby, CEO at Beeline, to get both his insider scoop and expert perspective.

In Part 1 of this Q&A, we discussed New Mountain’s approach to managing its portfolio companies and how that could affect Beeline’s growth in the near term. Today, in the conclusion of this exclusive conversation, we examine the competitive dynamics between Beeline and its largest rival, SAP Fieldglass, and explore the three most important industry trends Leeby is focused on.

Beeline’s Acquisition by New Mountain Capital: Transaction Analysis and Competitive Impacts [PRO]

Beeline, well known in the contingent workforce and services sector as one of the top two global VMS solution providers, recently announced it is being acquired by New Mountain Capital (NMC), a private equity firm. NMC, which is focused on developing and growing companies in defensive growth industries, is now completing the last formal steps in its acquisition of Beeline from private equity firm GTCR. Spend Matters covered the acquisition announcement and followed up on the news with a subsequent interview of Beeline CEO Doug Leeby, who expressed enthusiasm about the deal and confidence in the new owner.

The acquisition comes at an interesting point in the evolution of the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) software market.  On the one hand, solution buying by enterprises continues to follow a customary pattern — we need a VMS or an MSP/VMS and a supplier-funded model — resulting in a commodified, competitive market. In such an environment, some VMS providers have focused on achieving economies of scale, exploiting solution adjacencies (e.g., SOW) and investing in new technologies (e.g., data analytics, artificial intelligence) to enhance solution value and differentiate their offerings.

At the same time, changing conditions on both demand and supply sides of the labor market (e.g., skill shortages, cost of talent, independent workforce, online platforms) have started to stimulate responses among CW/S intermediaries and software providers. Moreover, the application of state-of-the-art and leading-edge technologies is enabling incumbent and new providers to offer new types of solutions that may (or may not) address emerging business needs in the short term or the long term. In such an environment, having the capacity to invest — and a balanced but agile investment strategy — would appear to be critical to future success.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we add context to and take a closer look at the Beeline-NMC deal, which seems promising. We also offer our perspective on what the deal may mean for Beeline and the competitive markets it serves, in both short and long terms.