Down the Procurement Pub with Virtualstock, Basware, HS2 and Cassia

Back to Jason’s visit last week and this is us having a tea (it wasn’t all beer, you see) with Tom Lawrence (ex-Proxima) and Fraser MacDonald of Flow & Ebb. That’s their pretty new firm doing interesting work in the field of commodity price management – more on them to come I’m sure.

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We’re not big fans of the HS2 rail programme; it just feels that money might be better spent elsewhere in the current climate and with technology likely to change travel rapidly (self-driving cars etc).  Anyway, contracts worth £6.6 billion were awarded this week to the usual suspects; pretty much all the big construction firms got a share as far as we can see. We’re also very cynical about the “16,000” jobs being created- let’s wait and see how many of the jobs go to Brits. Remember the ODA and their dodgy stats that said loads of Olympic construction workers were “from the local boroughs” – but that included Poles, Indians and Aussies bedding down in B ‘n Bs in Newnham. It was reckoned that in truth something like only half the workers on the Olympic construction programme were British. Watch out for the same thing here.

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Basware, the eProcurement and eInvoicing firm, announced their second quarter results this week. The transition of the firm to a cloud-based solution provider continued apace, with cloud now representing over 50% of revenue for the first time. However, the revenue for the quarter was about 4% down  on last year’s equivalent, which is less good news. But EBITDA moved into positive territory, the pipeline looks good, according to the CEO, and most importantly (given a quarter’s figures don’t mean much really in the long term), the share price responded well, up 4% on the day.

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And talking about money being wasted, anyone like to explain the Ministry of Defence’s F-35 fighter programme? We may cover it in more detail next week but it is complicated and I’m not sure we can get anywhere near the bottom of it. But it appears that we have wasted another few billion here … “Britain blowing billions on ‘pathetic’ fighter jets that are ‘too heavy’ and give away positions to the enemy” as the Sun put it.

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Virtualstock announced an investment of £4.5 million from Notion Capital, London-based venture capital firm Notion Capital, whose portfolio is largely in the cloud-based tech field. The cash will be used to “break into the US market”, says CEO Andrew Mills. That investment values the business at some £66 million, not as high as some previous broker’s estimates, but not bad going really (see our articles here and here). The firm expects to double in size over the next 12 months; look out for jobs on offer in Reading shortly!

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In a just world, Cassia will make it big with their summery afro-beat tinged indie-pop , and they haven’t started badly, touring Europe already.  But Cassia have a procurement link too – the lead singer / guitarist is the son of the CEO and co-founder of a procurement software firm that most of you will know. We’ll let you work this one out!

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