Coupa Buys TripScanner – Extending Open Procurement Model To Travel

On July 20, the iconoclastic solutions provider Coupa announced it is acquiring TripScanner for an undisclosed amount. Like Coupa, TripScanner is built on an open network principle, except it is focused on business travel.

Judging by the single-digit TripScanner employee count on LinkedIn (1-10 employees), the company is decidedly in its early stages. It was founded in 2013 by Harvard Business School grad Ethan Laub, who formerly worked with AmEx Business Travel. This being said, the acquisition price likely didn’t eat into Coupa’s $80 million funds raised in its Series G round in June.

How the 2 Firms Fit Together

Owing to its small size, TripScanner has not had any prior coverage on Spend Matters. But from what I have read about the company, its business concept appears similar to that of the travel portion of industry-leading travel and expense management provider Concur. Now part of SAP’s cloud portfolio, Concur’s approach lets travelers – in a user-friendly fashion – address their travel needs first and sort out policy consequences afterward. It’s a  “spend-visibility-above-all” approach that aligns well with Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) philosophy. In the case of TripScanner, its business scope has been focused on small and mid-size firms, so policy compliance has likely been less important than maximizing price savings for travelers.

The deal looks like yet another among many of the “hire-by-acquisition” deals favored in Silicon Valley. Similarly, when Spend Matters interviewed Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn earlier in the year on the subject of the company’s acquisition of ZenPurchase, our impression was that Bernshteyn had taken a “hire a functional team” approach in that deal as well. A good approach to maintain momentum, which is a concept near and dear to Coupa.

How TripScanner Adds Value to Coupa

Adding TripScanner capabilities to Coupa’s offering clearly helps round out Coupa’s suite. Yes, I declare it is time for us to use the “suite” label. And even if travel management seems to be a niche area, it is a huge spend area. All companies – regardless of size – have it, which drives lots of new users, aka solution seats, to Coupa. Travel is also fundamentally a P2P activity – the booking being the purchase order (PO) – but with a different set of terminology, which again fits Coupa perfectly.

As with all other Coupa acquisitions, this deal with TripScanner will likely be recoded for or incorporated into Coupa’s Ruby on Rails and AWS architecture. Once built into the Coupa solution, this will definitely strengthen the company’s position in deals against the SAP cloud portfolio.

Now What?

What can we expect next? Perhaps an announcement to from Coupa to acquire a statement of work/service legal agreement (SOW/SLA) provider to manage complex services delivery? Judging by Coupa’s prior acquisitions, keep an eye on providers founded by Harvard Business School grads.

As for TripScanner, a congratulations is in order for the firm. Those with TripScanner are now part of a very fast-moving company. And congratulations to Coupa, too. It’s another brick in the path toward a full-featured suite addressing a company’s transactional spend management needs.

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