Key Targeted Acquisitions Turbocharge Coupa Engine

Rob Bernshteyn
Rob Bernshteyn
CEO & Chairman, Coupa Software

Rob Bernshteyn previously served as part of the executive management team at SuccessFactors (now part of SAP), running product marketing & management for this leader in HCM SaaS software. He also worked in product management at Siebel Systems, management consulting at McKinsey, and SAP systems integration consulting at Accenture. Bernshteyn holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems from the University of New York at Albany.

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Earlier this month, Coupa announced the acquisition of InvoiceSmash, and today we announced we’ve acquired TripScanner.

InvoiceSmash is an Australia-based company with a platform that ingests invoices in PDF format, translating their data into our invoice management system and eliminating repetitive manual work. TripScanner  is developing a method for allowing folks to book their travel from any website they choose, while monitoring for compliance with company travel rules.

These are our third and fourth acquisitions, respectively. In February, we bought Zen Purchase, a collaborative procurement platform. In 2013 we bought Xpenser, an online expense report creation app. All of these acquisitions help us build our platform in the smartest, fastest way possible.

Our goals have always been to build a comprehensive, organic, transactional spend management platform encompassing procurement, invoicing and expense management. We also set out to include advanced power user tools to help further optimize that transactional spend. These acquisitions are in alignment with that vision.

The power of organic

The power of an organic suite is that there's a common workflow that can bridge all of these functional areas.  There's a common way to store the data from each area and make it accessible across the whole platform using the same permission model. The user experience is common everywhere. So are the user administration, pre-integrated reporting, notifications and other value-added capabilities.  This means no integration frustration and reduced total cost of ownership for our customers.

We’ve deliberately chosen to build organically rather than slap together a lot of different technologies. We’re not interested in becoming a rollup, or buying revenue for the sake of revenue. Why then do these acquisitions make sense? Why would any acquisitions make sense? Why don’t we build everything ourselves? Those are fair questions.

The answer is that we have built a very strong transactional engine, with hundreds of billions of dollars running through our platform. We're growing fast, our customers are getting real value, and they want even more from us.  We want to give that to them.

Think of it as our version of the modern electric automobile engine. We will continue to refine it with each new model, through our same organic development process.  But, we are also looking to add peripheral value, like bleeding edge navigation, seamless media interactivity, and perhaps a spoiler and some spinning rims. We want to add value, but never by compromising the core.

Boiling the ocean

To that end, we’ve been boiling the ocean looking for young companies that have strong talent and domain expertise, and who share a common vision for how a certain functional area should and could be. We’re looking for people who have made a lot of mistakes and learned from them, because that shortens our learning curve as we build this key functionality into our platform. We’ve looked at several hundred companies over the past six years and only found these four that met all of our criteria so far.

When we acquired Xpenser and ZenPurchase it was for their talent and assets - not financial or product assets, but the asset of having gone through many development cycles and figured out what works. And, just as importantly, what doesn’t. Both were young companies, with interesting products in line with our vision, but weren’t fully developed yet. It made sense for us to join forces and build together.

It’s all about the talent

TripScanner is that same sort of acquisition – an acquisition of talent and assets. We’re joined by a team with deep domain expertise in the travel expense space. They have a belief, which we share, that the way employees book corporate travel today is unnecessarily difficult. One should be able to use their favorite travel booking system with full confidence that they’ll be compliant with corporate travel policy. TripScanner has the beginnings of a product that does that, but more importantly they have a lot of lessons learned.

With InvoiceSmash, we’re actually buying talent and product. The product is strong and scalable. This is something customers have been asking for and we’ve been looking to develop: a modern, elegant solution that enhances what we’ve already built.

The integration point is peripheral. It’s a distinct web service that can run as an ancillary to the core platform without disrupting it in any way. It supports our vision for Savings-as-a-Service without breaking our organic approach to the market.

All of our acquisitions to date add to the utility of our platform, without changing or interfering with its core functionality. That’s exactly what we’re looking to do as we grow, and these new acquisitions will help us get there faster.