Procurement Strategy & Planning Content

Icertis becomes first true CLM unicorn, with $115M funding round — and it sits atop a market that’s red hot and ripe for M&A [PRO]

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

Icertis announced today that its latest funding round raised $115 million and that the provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) is now valued at more than a billion dollars, reaching proverbial “unicorn” status.

The funding round was led by two groups, Greycroft and PremjiInvest, with participation from B Capital Group, Cross Creek Advisors, Eight Roads, Ignition Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and PSP Growth, according to a press release. The latest round brings total funding to date to $211 million, the release said.

Mark Terbeek, a partner at Greycroft, said in the release: “We’ve seen (Icertis) become the undisputed CLM leader, acquiring a huge stable of blue-chip customers and generating a return on capital that is among the best we’ve ever seen. We have no doubt they will become the next giant in the enterprise SaaS market.”

The release also noted that “the AI-infused Icertis Contract Management (ICM) platform is used by companies like 3M, Airbus, Cognizant, Daimler, Microsoft and Sanofi to manage 5.7 million contracts in 40+ languages across 90+ countries.”

Icertis is private and doesn’t disclose revenues, but it has been growing extremely quickly (claiming 125% CAGR over the last four years), and with over 800 employees, a forward-looking revenue run rate approaching $200 million seems reasonable, and only requires a 5X multiple to get to a $1 billion valuation (we believe the revenue multiple to be higher than this).

Also, Icertis is a clear market leader in the CLM space based on our latest Q2 2019 SolutionMap deep-dive competitive assessment (available here for free). And, Icertis competitor Exari was recently acquired at roughly a 10X multiple, so there should be little doubt about Icertis’ favorable prospects.

Icertis announced that its new $115 million in funding will be used for continued product development in adjacent product areas (and geographies), verticalization, possible acquisitions, blockchain development and, of course, AI — which is red hot in CLM.

Spend Matters has covered Icertis for years, and while the firm’s stated mission to “become the contract management platform of the world” may seem a bit audacious, the firm has executed historically well due in part to its strong management team and focused strategy as a true CLM pure play that doesn’t focus on any one particular business process area (e.g, within the sell-side for customer contracts).

The firm is also buoyed by the fact that the CLM market is throwing off its shackles as a place for glorified document management systems set up by legal departments to transfer commercial risk to counterparties. Rather, contracts are becoming the ultimate system-of-record for B2B commerce, not just from a legal department standpoint, but a financial one (e.g., where contracts become the new ledgers that augment the G/L), a regulatory/risk standpoint, and an operational one relevant to any place where internal/external stakeholders make commitments to each other.

We call this concept “commercial value management” (CVM), and we discussed its framework in a recent Spend Matters PRO research paper titled “Commercial Value Management: Making Contracts the Commercial Core of Enterprise Value (Part 1).” In it, we stated:

“There is a subtle shift happening within the scope of contract and commercial management (CCM), and a not-so-subtle shift that is also happening within the digital realm (e.g., namely artificial intelligence, low-code platforms, open source, “XaaS”). What’s happening is that as contracts get digitized and more deeply modeled, they are becoming the single most important piece of master data within the enterprise that touches virtually every single stakeholder within these core processes and also within corporate functions such as R&D, risk management, strategic planning, treasury, audit, sustainability, digital/innovation and others.”

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO / Nexus brief, we’ll examine the following topics:

* Icertis’ prospects relative to multiple CLM market segments and competitors
* How CLM’s evolution to “CVM” impacts Icertis. (Think of CVM as “extended CLM” on steroids.)
* M&A, exit and other considerations for Icertis — including potential acquirers as an alternative to an IPO.

And in a subsequent deeper dive in the August/September inaugural Spend Matters Nexus members’ newsletter for private equity firms/investors, corporate development teams and solution provider CEOs, we’ll feature Icertis and analyze:

* Icertis’ strategy: lessons learned and key takeaways
* Valuation drivers (for Icertis and similar firms) and possible Icertis M&A acquisition prospects/targets
* The prospects for procurement suite providers with legacy CLM capabilities and Apttus, Conga and others in a CVM world

OK, let’s get to it …

Recession is on the mind of many procurement, finance professionals: Study

future

Despite economic growth, recent headwinds have procurement and finance professionals considering how to deal with a possible recession in the next year or so, according to a survey by the data-aggregation firm Suplari, which published “Plans & Tactics to Recession-Proof the Enterprise in 2019 and Beyond.” The study notes that many recent surveys spotlight executives’ concerns that job markets, credit risks and tariff policies could push the economy to decelerate. The survey evaluates how to avoid disruptions of performance, growth and profitability, considering what strategies can be employed swiftly to identify cost-savings and risk-optimization.

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 2: Alliances/Business Development) [PRO]

Some of the secrets of Coupa’s continued growth even as it maintains the “Rule of 40” well into the hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue — largely through organic development but also through the sale of additional capabilities gained via acquisition — are three quiet teams operating in the shadows behind the product/solution, R&D and sales functions.

It uses these areas to great effect to collectively win individual battles against competitors. These teams are effectively “special forces” groups that have leverage far beyond their individual ability to contribute alone (but would not be successful without the broader Coupa arsenal that they’re supporting). Other vendors may have one of these weapons individually. Or on paper. But collectively Coupa is the only one that combines them to great effect as it moves its chess pieces around the tactical and strategic board.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a unique take on these groups from the perspective of a long-time industry insider who has seen them put to use effectively from a rare vantage point. Today we continue our look by exploring the second of Coupa’s special forces teams —  alliances/business development. (Click here for our analysis of Coupa’s corporate development function.)

Our analysis today begins by defining what alliances/business development functions do (and not do) for enterprise software / SaaS / cloud companies. Then we provide the details behind Coupa’s partner programs (including types, tiers, named partners, etc.). And finally we explore how Coupa leverages this area in ways that disproportionately benefit its broader operations.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team.

Research note: This brief is based on extensive primary research. Beyond already available public information, no data or insights were provided by Coupa. However, a fact-check was provided to Coupa for informational purposes to ensure accuracy.

Announcing Spend Matters Nexus — Where Capital and Strategy Converge

As I hinted at last week, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new research, advisory and networking organization — Spend Matters Nexus.

The Nexus membership program is designed for investors/acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and solution provider CEOs in the procurement and finance technology/solution ecosystem. Membership offers a new strategic lens to the solution areas covered on Spend Matters.

Nexus was borne out of an increased demand for research subscriptions, due diligence and strategy support with our private equity clients in late 2018 (which has picked up exponentially this year). But recently, our team realized there was a flip side to working with technology acquirers — providing relevant market intelligence for solution provider CEOs, boards and leadership teams on their own strategy, corporate development and business development/partnership initiatives.

Spend Matters Nexus will hopefully become invaluable for both groups. The goal is to provide market intelligence, strategy and due diligence advisory for private equity firms and investors. For CEOs, boards and leadership teams, the program offers insights spanning strategy, corporate development and business development/partnership topics. For all members, there are invitation-only networking opportunities.

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 1: Corporate Development) [PRO]

Coupa has assembled three behind-the-scenes weapons — non-product, non-solution and non-R&D teams — which it uses to great effect to collectively win individual battles against competitors and, at least so far, the broader growth war in the source-to-pay market from a logo growth perspective in recent years. These are effectively “special forces” groups that have leverage far beyond their individual ability to contribute alone (but would not be successful without the broader Coupa arsenal that they’re supporting).

Other vendors may have one of these weapons individually. Or on paper. But collectively Coupa is the only one that combines them to great effect as it moves its chess pieces around the tactical and strategic board. This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a unique take from the perspective of   long-time industry insider who has seen them put to use effectively from a unique vantage point. Today we start by exploring the first of Coupa’s special forces teams: corporate development.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team.

Zycus Analyst Day — 3 Quick Insights

Along with colleagues Pierre Mitchell, Xavier Olivera and Nick Heinzmann, I attended Zycus’ analyst day in Park City, Utah, on Friday. Analysts from Ardent, Gartner, Levvel (formerly Paystream) were also in attendance. While I’ll leave it to my esteemed colleagues to provide more insightful commentary on where Zycus stands today overall, let me share three quick insights that I walked away with.

Sponsored Article

Big Savings in Small Spend — Tales from the Tail

In the world of strategic sourcing, realizing 5 to 8% savings is considered to be impressive. After all, these are the high-spend categories and are supposedly already well-managed and frequently revisited for improvement opportunities. In contrast, when our clients work with Simfoni on tail spend management or low-value spend engagements, we witness savings that can easily exceed 20% from time to time. This article explains how — with the right combination of subject matter expertise, leverage and technology — such savings are achievable.

In the world of tail spend, we typically pursue the following sourcing levers: Demand Challenge, Specification Alignment, Volume Leverage, Competitive Bidding, Alternate Solutions, Supply Chain Optimization.

I’ll explain each lever and illustrate how savings can be achieved in excess of 20%.

Protect Against These Risks when Working with Third-Party Vendors

risk

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Matt Kunkel, the CEO of LogicGate, a provider of risk management solutions.

A recent study revealed more than 60% of organizations in the U.S. that have encountered a data breach were compromised because of a third-party vendor. Organizations use vendors as a means to efficiently complete tasks, but they can create vulnerabilities for which the organization is ultimately responsible. Vendor decisions and operations are frequently out of a chief information security officer’s control, but they still carry serious risks to the organization’s business and reputation.

Workers’ Digital Skills Gap a Key Challenge for Businesses, The Hackett Group Says

Digital transformation has and will continue to have far-reaching consequences in manufacturing, purchasing, compliance, advertising and just about every other function in the business world. Another function to add to the list, according to the April 2019 Hackett Group study, will be hiring and training of existing and incoming employees.

The Next-Generation Talent Profile: How Will You Fill the Digital Skills Gap focuses on how the procurement function in particular will need to train and improve their existing workforce, because the demand for skills and knowledge like strategic thinking, smart automation, social media, creativity and innovation, and process excellence will far exceed supply over the next three to four years. The Hackett Group notes that research by the World Economic Forum indicates that more than 50% of existing workers will need to be reskilled or upskilled by 2022.

Retiring Murphy’s Law — Time for Procurement to Move On

supplier network

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Paul Martyn, VP-North America at SirionLabs.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with several mid- to large-size companies' supply chain leaders. And while I assumed our conversations would be dominated by their views on the latest flurry of AI-enabled SCM tools, instead, several of our discussions turned toward recent advances in supplier performance management. Should I have been surprised? After all, the space is white hot, with several new risk and contract management vendors recently entering the solution market.

What follows is a brief summary of what I heard, plus some personal observations:

Automation, digitization, global trade pose challenges for business leaders, report says

A new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Basware, is shedding light on how technology innovation and shifting global trade dynamics are challenging businesses.

The report considers three trends — automation, digitization and shifting trade dynamics — that finance and procurement executives expect to affect their companies most, what their impacts will be, and how business leaders are preparing for the developments. The report’s findings are based on a survey of more than 400 finance and procurement leaders in the U.S., the UK, France and Germany.

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Finding the Right Fit and Function for Your Procurement Vision

Most procurement departments would agree that introducing a category management structure is a good way to secure the best-in-class status they crave. On the tactical-to-strategic spectrum, it’s still a notch below “trusted adviser” status, but it’s several more notches removed from reactive purchasing and the three-bid-and-buy mentality. While they’ve largely got a consistent end goal, procurement departments vary wildly when it comes to progress.

Many are still hard at work introducing even a foundational level of strategy. Others are mired in damage control after trying and failing to build a more strategic procurement function. Even those exemplary departments that can call category management a next step have a lot of work ahead. Like their less advanced peers, they’ve got to change their organization’s mindset if they want to truly transform procurement. To transform the function, they’ve got to first change the way other business units perceive and engage it.