Basware: In the Opinion of ‘The Emperor’

I recently shared some quick thoughts on the evolution of Basware, a provider that is arguably making a complicated set of transitions, perhaps even more complex than what Ariba went through as it morphed from an enterprise software company to a cloud- and network-based purchase-to-pay (P2P) vendor, before SAP acquired it. But I would be remiss in commenting on Basware without referring Trade Financing Matters readers to a great post, Basware = Sciquest + Tungsten?, by my old frenemy, Bob Solomon.

For those who don’t know Bob, the man, at least in my view, is an evil genius, along the lines of political operatives. I recently sat on a panel with Bob at the Coupa customer conference and referred to the situation as a rare chance to sit next to the equivalent of Emperor Palpatine, Dark Lord of the Sith, from Star Wars. That comment got a chuckle at the time from Bob and others – especially given the fact that he’s a great guy at heart.

But while Bob’s heart is made of gold, he’s also the one who came up with the Ariba network pricing model while running the Ariba network business – hence my comment about him being the “evil emperor.”

Bob is not only one of the smartest guys you’ll meet on the business and product sides of the P2P and trade financing worlds but also extremely eloquent in explaining the market. (I just wish he would update his blog even more frequently.)

Bob’s recent take on Basware is a case in point. In summing up the vendor, he notes, “Basware can, oversimplistically, be thought of as a procure-to-pay suite vendor (in Gartner’s leadership quadrant) plus an e-invoicing network.”

But it’s far more than that, as Bob gets to in his post. And you can even back into how the company is looked at from an investor perspective as well, Bob shows, based on other proxies in the market.

Does the emperor get it right? In large part he does. But the one comment I’ll add to Bob’s views – and my own – is that the management team of Basware, especially Esa Tihilä, the CEO, understands the world of finance as well as if not better than technology. Perhaps more than any other incumbent provider in the space, I’d bet on Tihilä and Basware getting the trade financing part of its offering right – and maybe even reshaping the entire company around it.

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First Voice

  1. Robert Solomon:

    I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. So many thoughts to respond to.

    1. You are too kind with the “genius” and “heart of gold” stuff.
    2. You are too harsh with the “evil” part, but it’s amusing to me how much those fees still rankle you. (I hope rankle is a word.)
    3. There is only one part of the article that upset me: calling me a “political operative”. Now that I live in DC, I know about those people and that is a really low blow.
    4. I wish I could update my blog more often than I do as well. Unfortunately, I find each post draining and need to follow each one with a nap. I marvel, with envy, at how much good quality content you and your team put out. Seriously, it does not seem possible.
    5. I would also note, however, that my (infrequent) blog is free. Only an evil genius would charge for his pithy (sithy?) content. 😉
    6. Finally, those of us who “live on the dark side” admire the evil genius of the credit card industry and its adaptation to B2B.

    My favorite recent example is the segment of the virtual card market wherein a supplier’s invoice is settled after 45 days with a virtual card number, thus requiring the supplier to pay interchange rates–even after having to raise an invoice and wait for the payment!

    Save the Emperor Palpatine references for the procurement card and virtual card guys, I am merely Boba Fett!

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