Down the Procurement Golf Course with Tungsten, Blur Group, Bob Kerslake and Ryan Adams

In our “spot the CPO “ competition this week, can you work out who these two ex government CPOs are – pictured here enjoying a beer after a recent golf day. In my second round in the last 8 years I played well (for a few holes at least ) and the 3-man team I was part of actually won – a fine team effort actually, we all chipped in (as it were).

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This week, Tungsten held their first AGM since their flotation and acquisition of OB10 last year. Edi Truell, founder and CEO, said this. “We have been able to establish a reasonable route map to set out our vision: to achieve $1trn in annual invoice flow through our network, to finance $100bn of invoices annually and generate $10bn in annual cost savings for our clients through Tungsten Network Analytics. We are delighted with our progress towards these goals in the 11 months since we came to market.”

The firm is hiring 100 people in this financial year, number of transactions was up 13% on the year, they are involved in trials with the German public sector (which could be an enormous market, clearly), the share price is well up on its launch, and everything looks rosy. But just a note of caution – this is still a firm that hasn’t made a profit and in fact lost £10.2 million (EBITDA) last year, and is now valued at almost £400 million. So there is still scope for either investor disappointment or huge success, given the scalability of the business, and potential in the e-invoicing and supply chain finance market. It is down to execution of the strategy – and the competition, of course.

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Civil Service World reports that Bob Kerslake, the retiring Head of the UK Civil Service, was asked by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) chair Bernard Jenkin to name his biggest regret as civil service head. Kerslake said during a hearing on 8 September: “I think my regret would be that we were not able to produce the report on diversity earlier. We could and should have.”

That is his biggest regret? Nothing to do with billions of pounds being wasted on various badly run projects? The delays to the Welfare to Work programme? The Prime Minister calling civil servants “enemies of enterprise”? The lack of real public sector reform in many areas?

No, it is the civil service diversity plan being a bit late. I’m afraid that says a lot about either Kerslake as an individual, or the absolute uselessness and hopelessness of his role.

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Blur Group announced interim figures the other day too. Their “exciting” services marketplace was flavour of the month for a while but the shares crashed and lost 90% of their value earlier this year. Their “revenues” (which is the entire value of the contracts that are placed through the site) was up to $5.7 for the half-year, gross profit (what we might call “revenue”, i.e. their margin on this rather than the pass-through cost) was up to $1.5 million, and the losses before interest payments etc. were also up to $4 million. Their share placing a few months back means they have enough cash to keep going for another couple of years or so – in that time they have to move into profitability or something very close to it. Place your bets here...

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Ryan Adams is an all-time hero of mine, with Stranger's Almanac by his band Whiskeytown (1997) being perhaps my favourite album of all time (yes, really). His early solo work, Heartbreaker and Gold in particular,was great, then we've had some years of variable quality releases, ranging through rock, country, folk, and pop. His new album Ryan Adams is straight ahead 80s style Petty/Springsteen rock, and is being hailed as a return to form. It is certainly instantly enjoyable, but I need to listen a few times more to see if it is anywhere close to those previous albums mentioned above. But here's a very good track.

 

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