Procurement Financials Content

2020 M&A and Procurement Investment Predictions: 10 Trends to Watch (Part 1)

M&A and investment activity in the procurement sector has started 2020 with a bang based on Coupa’s acquisition of Yapta and CVC’s $200 million investment in EcoVadis (which came on the heels of Workday’s buyout of Scout RFP in November). Spend Matters actively tracks over 600 procurement technology providers, of which more than 300 are featured and segmented by capability (suites and modules) in a recent PRO research brief and graphic (see below).

But we believe the actual number of providers — if we consider peripheral areas focused on category and market intelligence, analytics, services procurement and adjacent finance, supply chain, risk and supplier-related GRC applications that are still of interest to procurement organizations as the primary economic buyer — brings the list to over 1,000 different providers.

Many of these providers will raise capital or get acquired in 2020.

But what trends are driving acquisition and investor interest in the sector, and what types of transactions should we look for?

This Spend Matters Nexus brief provides an introductory analysis of sector M&A and investment predictions for 2020, exploring the first three of 10 trends we’re starting to spot:
* Trend 1: Competition grows between strategic and financial buyers (and those that fall somewhere in the middle).
* Trend 2: ERP and big tech get more active in the sector.
* Trend 3: Buyers and investors expand their definition of procurement technology.

Subsequent briefs in the series will cover additional trends as well flesh out some of the more important strategic and financial buyer (and investor) priorities on a more granular basis. Let’s get started!

2019’s top 5 most-viewed Nexus posts: 20 Tips; Workday-Scout RFP deal insights; Icertis and the red hot CLM market

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In July, Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch launched Spend Matters Nexus — his focus on the M&A and business side of the procurement technology market. Here’s how he describes it:

“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 and fresh, data-driven analysis for solution provider CEOs, boards and leadership teams.”

And here is a countdown of the top 5 most-viewed Nexus stories of 2019:

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 9: Defining the ‘Post-Close’ Plan) [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at our final tip (No. 20!) for sellers to get the most from a liquidity event when raising a large growth capital round or selling to private equity or strategic buyers. This tip, defining the “post-close” plan, may seem like a simple follow-on effort that you can worry about after the ink is dry on a transaction.

But displaying leadership when it comes to the post-close plan before a deal is complete will both help your organization accelerate out of the gate after it is acquired or merged and will burnish your reputation with your new owners. As important, showing the ability to develop a realistic post-close plan with key checkpoints and milestones at specific intervals (like 90 days, 180 days, etc.) is a strong leading indicator that the implementation of such an effort will be a success — even if its components and details shift post transaction.

If you are just getting introduced to this series, start with the earlier tips. (Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8).

SoftBank invests $1.65 billion in supply chain finance. Why?

At $100 billion, the SoftBank Vision Fund is both the largest private equity fund ever raised and one of the most complicated. On the heels of some public wounds with the likes of WeWork and Uber, I wondered why the keen interest in supply chain finance (SCF).

A Due Diligence Survival Guide: What to Expect (Part 1: Passing Architecture & Structural Product Scrutiny)

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This Spend Matters Nexus series on due diligence kicks off Nexus as its own subscription stream apart from PRO content.

The series is a survival guide on the due diligence process for sellers, especially all the areas outside of finance and accounting (though we’ll eventually get to this part of the process). And we hope that acquirers and investors — even seasoned corporate development, PE and venture types — will find it useful as well. We unfortunately know some buyers who could have spared themselves some headaches had they been as anal as we are in many of these areas.

Perhaps the biggest challenge that executives going through a fund-raising or transaction process face is that they are not adequately prepared for all the curveballs — many of the Astros batters facing the Nationals Stephen Strasburg’s recent loopers come to mind — that might get tossed their way in the due diligence process.

There are so many areas that investors and acquirers might decide to take an extra look at that even world-class “hitters” might not see them coming. And even those who think they are prepared for all the pitches might not fully anticipate the twists and turns the ball might take just before it hits the strike zone (we’ll stop with the baseball analogies, but with one of us coming from the North Side of Chicago, we’re empathetically giddy about our friends in Washington being able to claim victory in the World Series for the first time, turning around what initially looked to be a modest season).

The 2019 baseball Fall Classic aside, fully preparing for diligence is about practice (a topic we’ll explore later in this Nexus series), and it’s one that we ideally recommend companies rehearse — even though few will be prepared from “regular season” play alone at the level that ideally they should be at. Regardless, even those that do not practice sufficiently will stand to benefit from a comprehensive checklist about what to expect.



In Part 1 of our series, we’ll start first with an overall list of areas to consider from a diligence checklist perspective. Then we’ll immediately dive into what to expect around architecture and structural product diligence. (Warning: This is deep!) In the weeks to come, we’ll crawl out of the technology weeds as our exploration continues.

And of course throughout this Nexus series, we’ll aim to put a unique spin on the topic for procurement, finance and supply chain software companies, as these are the software segments we’re most experienced in scrutinizing — and occasionally preparing or dressing up for a process.

Let’s begin.

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 in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 8: Knowing Your Weaknesses)  [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at our next-to-last tip for sellers to optimize the outcomes of an exit process/liquidity event when selling to private equity or strategic buyers. Tip 19, know your weaknesses, may sound simple, but it is an area where blindspots are more common than 360-degree vision.

Our tip today centers on the notion that for sellers, it is helpful to not only be able to articulate areas for improvement in such things as product (mix, capability, etc.), team, geographic presence, etc. But it is also important to display the right level of self- and market-awareness in what you would like to do about it. That is, if given the resources to execute.

If you are just getting introduced to this series, start with the earlier tips. (see Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7).

Jason Busch is the Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Leases lurk in businesses, leak money: Why lease spend isn’t managed well

Every department in a business has leases — from office printers to office space and routers to forklifts. But not all of this haphazard leasing and its hidden costs goes through the cost-saving negotiation and management provided by a procurement department. That rogue spend adds up, and businesses are starting to understand the full scope of their leasing spend and why it is so poorly managed.

Companies this year are seeing the full extent of this sprawling lease spend because a new accounting standard required that public companies move leases from the footnotes of their financial reports onto balance sheets. Private companies as well as state, local and federal government agencies will face the same reckoning over the next few years as they adopt these new accounting rules.

The new accounting standards have forced companies to wrangle all the leasing information across their business and put it into a centralized system in order to perform the necessary financial reporting. The unexpected benefit of this massive accounting compliance effort is that companies are now sitting on a pile of valuable information about their leases, which creates the promise for saving money and improving efficiency.

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 5: Payment Options and Early Payment Financing) [PRO]

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In the last installment of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series on accounts payable automation, we’ll list the functional requirements for payment options, like P-cards and financing programs.

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to name just a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the available supply market for AP automation to fit their needs (either on a standalone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions). Click to see our SolutionMap rankings of vendors in each category.

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing).

In Part 2, we turned our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

In Part 3, we looked at the final set of AP automation topics: invoicing mobility, invoicing compliance and invoicing analytics.

In Part 4, we examined AP automation functions related to payment systems and methods, payment partnerships, payment processing and payment analytics.

Now, let’s look at payment options and early payment financing.

LIBOR Phase Out: Considerations for Supply Chain Finance

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LIBOR has been the default benchmark interest rate for supply chain finance since this technique was developed approximately 20 years ago. By year-end 2021, LIBOR will be phased out.

So how does this impact supply chain finance? For a market that is approaching $500 billion globally in size, it’s a significant challenge.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 3: Before the Process — Third-Party Validated Analysis and the Importance of Understanding the Strategic Buyer Landscape) [PRO]

Aside from companies already owned by private equity firms, it is the rare solution provider — or any company — that is selling to private equity, going out for a later investment round or seeking a strategic buyer that has prepared adequately for the transaction process in such a way that the efforts will fully maximize the valuation, terms and other factors in its favor. That is, unless it gets lucky, and to be fair, some folks get lucky!

As expert advisers — primarily to “buyers” — we’ve seen this phenomenon play out time-and-time again in the procurement solutions universe. But it doesn’t have to continue to be that way. This series is focused on leveling the playing field for more advanced sellers of all types, gained by sharing our lessons learned from over 20 years of involvement in transactions in the sector, and especially our work as advisers to private equity investors, nearly all of which are extremely methodical and rigorous in their deal screening and due diligence processes.

So far in this Spend Matters Nexus series, we covered the initial seven tips to prepare — ideally far in advance — of the process itself (see Part 1 and Part 2). Today we continue with the next two tips to pay particular attention to in the lead-up to a process (but still ideally before it begins). And later in the series, we will explore tips to leverage in the actual process itself, ideally once you’ve fully prepared ahead of time to maximize your chances of an optimal exit, transaction or investment.

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 in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Coupa financial results: Delving into another strong quarter [PRO]

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Earlier this week, Coupa reported its Q2 results for fiscal 2020, achieving revenue of over $95 million (a near 55% increase year-over-year, primarily from organic growth). The quarterly revenue performance beat analysts’ estimates, and non-GAAP EPS was also above expectations, although cash flow from operating activities declined quarter-over-quarter. Regardless, investors cheered the results, helping Coupa hit a price/sales ratio of nearly 28X in early morning trading on Thursday — and a roughly $9 billion market cap (representing over 125% appreciation in the stock price in 2019 alone).

That’s valuation perfection by just about any measure when compared to peers.

But what is happening within Coupa (and the broader market) under the surface that is driving these numbers? This Spend Matters Nexus brief provides insight on broader (and related) market trends while peeling back a few layers of the onion on what’s driving Coupa’s success, including how it is benefiting from various competitive dynamics in the market (e.g., SAP Ariba’s broader integration hurdles), as well as some of the challenges Coupa must confront to fully capitalize on its acquisitions.

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 in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

What Happens When Machine Learning Finance Models Fail

These are some strange times. Look, we have $16 trillion of negative yielding bonds, that’s T, for trillion. I’m asked by non-financial people why anyone would want to buy negative yields (you pay to hold them, btw) and I reply, it’s not about income, it’s about trading that rates will fall further.

Which got me thinking: If we are in some liquidity trap world and negative interest rate environment, what does that do to all these invoice financial models being built using the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence and machine learning?