Afternoon Coffee: AvidXchange acquires Core Associates; European and Asian manufacturing ends year on high note; Google employees unionize

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AvidXchange, an accounts payable (AP) and payment automation solution, announced the acquisition of Core Associates, the makers of the TimberScan construction AP solution.

The integration of TimberScan and AvidPay will aim to fully automate processes from procurement to payment in a single solution, according to a press release announcing the deal. Core Associates will continue to offer TimberScan to those in the construction industry looking to eliminate manual AP tasks and shift to electronic invoicing.

The acquisition will help position AvidXchange as a leading AP automation platform serving mid-market construction companies, according to the website Core Associates will gain access to AvidXchange's 680,000 suppliers, which advance AP efficiency while extending several electronic payment options.

“There is no better way to start 2021 than by welcoming Core Associates customers, partners and employees to AvidXchange,” Michael Praeger, CEO and co-Founder of AvidXchange, said in the press release. “With this acquisition, existing Core Associates users and new customers will benefit from the combination of TimberScan’s purpose-built AP automation platform and e-payments processed through the AvidPay Network to transform the way they pay bills.”

Positive manufacturing numbers for year's end in Europe and Asia

Manufacturers in Europe and Asia ended 2020 on a high note as activity expanded moderately, but potential tougher restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 clouded the outlook, according to Reuters.

Activity in Europe increased at the fastest pace since mid-2018 in December, indicating the bloc was not as hard-hit by the pandemic as earlier in the year. IHS Markit’s European Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 55.2 in December, the article reported. Germany led the pack.

Meanwhile, manufacturing in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan expanded. However, there was a slowdown in China’a factory activity growth that underscored the challenges ahead. China’s Caixin/Markit PMI fell in December to 53.0 — the lowest level in three months — but anything over 50 counts as growth, the article said.

“Global manufacturing was still on a roll until the middle of December, which is a very good basis for an economic rebound once the current wave of the pandemic subsides,” Holger Schmieding, an economist at Berenberg, told Reuters.

“We may have a modest setback in January as renewed lockdowns affect manufacturing but with China remaining fairly strong and the U.S. not showing significant signs of a consumer slowdown the outlook for manufacturing is still good.”

Google and Alphabet workers unionize in rare big tech unionization effort

A group of Google engineers and other workers — including contract or gig workers — announced they formed a union, according to the Associated Press.

About 225 employees at Google and its parent company Alphabet became the first dues-paying members of the Alphabet Workers Union. They represent a fraction of Alphabet’s global workforce, short of the threshold needed to get formal recognition as a collective bargaining group in the US. The new union said it will serve as a “structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company.”

Unionization campaigns have historically not gained much traction among elite tech workers, who traditionally have higher salaries and other perks, the AP said. However, workplace activism has grown in recent years at big tech firms as employees call for better handling of sexual harassment or discrimination.

“Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support," Kara Silverstein, Alphabet’s director of people operations, said in a statement. “But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

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