Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 1)

It’s that time of year. And no, I’m not referring to eggnog (even the vegan sort, of which I’m partial to) and good holiday cheer alone. Nor am I referring to tech providers complaining about their latest SolutionMap scores (a byproduct of the fact that the real world is not “up and to the right”). Rather, the object of this statement is my old stomping ground — the original reason I got into this sector as junior corporate development runt at Freemarkets 20 years ago — and where I still spend too much time today: M&A.

Just as I’m about to take off and look forward to a few days in a warmer climate than Chicago with the family, sector M&A interest is heating up again from all sides and threatening the seasonal vacation. This seems to happen most Decembers as firms and companies begin to look at what’s on the potential table for the new calendar year (and realize just how fast that year is approaching).

But this year is different — there is more interest than ever from a demand perspective, and it’s coming from all angles at often very different sectors and targets. Despite this perhaps rational exuberance, I’m not letting it ruin my vacation. I’m getting too old for that stuff. So rather than go “one-to-one” in advice with my clients, in the spirit of the rise of many-to-many marketplaces again — remember the “fat butterfly” model from the original B2B.com implosion, anyone? — I thought I’d author an M&A outlook for 2019.

So read on. Today, I’ll start by providing a list of the M&A deals that occurred in 2018 and sharing our full Spend Matters coverage to date. And then I’ll tackle our first three of 10 M&A predictions for 2019 (with the remainder to follow in the coming week).

Coupa and Hiperos: Customer Recommendations

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides analysis in support of Hiperos and Coupa customers following this week’s news that Coupa is acquiring Hiperos.

We’ve examined the implications of the deal on the supplier management landscape and done a head-to-head comparison of the providers.

Now this brief includes recommendations for immediate steps and longer-term considerations that are generic to procurement technology M&A transactions in general — such as change of control clause implications — and specific to this acquisition.

We encourage Spend Matters PRO practitioner clients who are using or considering Hiperos to contact us for more information on how the acquisition could affect them.

Now read on to get the customer/prospect recommendations for Hiperos and Coupa.

Coupa and Hiperos: Supplier Management, Compliance and Risk Landscape Implications

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores the competitive implications of the Coupa-Hiperos transaction on the supplier management landscape. The analysis includes summary sector M&A implications and summary landscape/competitive implications. It also explores the potential impact on closer competitors to Hiperos (e.g., Aravo), more distant, network and community oriented peers (e.g., Achilles, Avetta, Browz, etc.); and “sleeping giants” on the periphery of the market such as D&B and Thomson Reuters.

Perhaps most relevant of all, as “compliance as a service” becomes more commonplace as a component of source-to-pay systems in areas ranging from supplier qualification to transactional/invoicing areas, we believe these latter groups may begin to come into contact with Coupa for the first time as the worlds of supplier intelligence and hybrid software, network and compliance collide in a networked manner across various industries.

Coupa buying Hiperos: Acquisition Facts, Analysis and Insight

Just this morning Coupa announced it was acquiring Hiperos as a carve-out transaction from Opus, which previously owned the supplier management, compliance and risk management solution provider. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides background and quick facts on Hiperos. It also offers analysis and insight on what the transaction brings to Coupa from a capability perspective and attempts to answer the question: Why Hiperos?

Subsequent Spend Matters subscription briefs (PRO and SolutionMap Insider) will provide insight and analysis of the transaction by exploring the competitive implications of the acquisition for the supplier management and compliance market, offering additional customer insight and recommendations and providing a “Head-to-Head” analysis of Coupa and Hiperos from a supplier-management capability perspective.

Read this briefing to find out more about what Coupa is getting and possible reasons behind the Hiperos deal.

Efficio Panel Debate: Good Banter, Robot Jokes and 3 Points About the Future of Procurement

Last week in London I participated in one of the livelier and more spirited panel debates on the future of procurement (skills, technology and more) in recent memory. The event, held at Efficio’s offices Thursday to mark the release of its latest report, “Procurement 2025: Is Digital Transformation Driving More Effective Procurement,” included not only a handful of esteemed panelists and facilitators from the procurement/CPO, consulting and academic ranks, but also a robot — which led to many robotic process automation jokes throughout the discourse. If Efficio does something like this again, ask them for an invitation — you won’t be disappointed!

Here are three points that stuck in my mind from the different panel discussions and chats that I had.

Basware vs. Tradeshift: Accounts Payable, Invoicing and Supplier Network Head-to-Head Comparison

On the surface, Basware and Tradeshift appear to deliver similar invoice-to-pay technology capabilities as two of the top-ranked SolutionMap analyst picks for this area. (Note: We include e-invoicing, accounts payable automation, supplier network and related capabilities as components of invoice-to-pay.) After all, both beat the average functional benchmark score in the Spend Matters Q4 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap, which publishes Dec. 4, by a material percentage.

But when you unpack how Basware and Tradeshift compare in the two “best” and core areas in which they compete, comparative strengths and weaknesses begin to emerge. Such nuances could prove all the more important when analyzing how customers and potential customers should think about each provider given the potential for them to join forces as a single, merged entity.

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q4 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit Basware and Tradeshift against each other in the invoice-to-pay evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In certain invoice-to-pay categories — which include supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services, invoicing, payment/financing and overall invoice-to-pay scoring — Basware gets the nod. But in many others, Tradeshift takes the prize. Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different organizational requirements. There’s no debate that invoice-to-pay selection processes will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs.

So You Want to Build a B2B Marketplace: 8 Business Scenarios & Case Examples (Part 2)

Just what is a B2B marketplace and, most important, why would you, as a procurement organization or distribution/business intermediary, want to build one? This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into these and other questions. Part 1 and today’s installment begin by segmenting the market into (and defining) eight business scenarios they can enable that go beyond standard procure-to-pay or storefront/e-commerce enablement, which include “private” and “public” marketplace models.

Thus far, we have explored four models: Digital Trading Company (“buy/sell” models), Extended Bill of Material Orchestration, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and Distributor “Value Add.” Today, we turn our attention to four additional B2B marketplace concepts: Procure-to-Pay (P2P) Innovator, New Business Intermediary, Industry Captain and Supply Chain Steward.

For each of the eight areas we provide a summary description of the marketplace concept, technologies (off-the-shelf) that can enable it, selected vendor shortlists, best-fit industries that it can support and best-fit spend categories (if applicable). Later installments in the series will provider deeper insight into the following: what you’ll need to build one, technology vendors to consider capable of providing marketplace technology/infrastructure (based on SolutionMap benchmark data), and whether a marketplace, for procurement organizations, is a substitute (or not) for traditional cloud-based source-to-pay applications.

Spend Matters is involved in technology strategy and RFI projects for organizations building — or evaluating building — marketplaces using “off-the-shelf” technologies. Contact us to learn more.

Five Reasons Why Tradeshift Would Acquire Basware

Monday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Tradeshift, a procure-to-pay provider and marketplace enabler, was behind the unsolicited offer to acquire Basware, a Europe-based procure-to-pay provider. The offer raises the obvious question: How would two similar companies — in terms of product overlap — benefit from joining forces? And more specifically, what’s in it for Tradeshift?

This Spend Matters PRO research brief attempts to answer these questions, exploring five reasons why a vendor with what first appears to be a near identical product footprint to Basware would consider such a move to bring the two together. Hint: There’s likely more to the proposed transaction than what appears on the surface (i.e., market consolidation, valuation arbitrage).

Note: A subsequent SolutionMap Insider subscriber analysis will provide insight into how both providers stack up based on the latest Q3 SolutionMap benchmark for Invoice-to-Pay.

A Potential Basware Takeover: Speculation Abounds

Earlier today, Basware, a Europe-based procure-to-pay provider that, through integrated partner capabilities, also offers broader source-to-pay solutions, responded to “media speculation” that it had received a takeover offer, resulting in a material run up in its share price. In a press announcement published Friday, Nov. 16, the vendor said it had been "approached with a non-binding and highly conditional indicative proposal for a possible tender offer for the entire share capital of Basware." The wording of the full release may provide some hints as to what kind of firm is considering an offer. But who the potential acquirer is perhaps matters less than what a Basware takeover could mean more broadly for the procurement technology market, in which Basware has made considerable gains within recent years.

So You Want to Build a B2B Marketplace: 8 Business Scenarios & Case Examples (Part 1)

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Just what is a B2B marketplace?

Ask someone like the “gray hairs” on the Spend Matters team who were advisers to first generation industry-based exchanges during the .com era (1999-2001) and they’d likely tell you it was a great theoretical concept to bring buyers and suppliers together in support of procurement and supply chain processes and/or transactional document exchange — albeit one that failed in execution just about every time. But ask someone who is younger and they might point to Amazon Business as an archetype of a B2B marketplace model today. Both would be right, of course.

But what is important for our purposes is that B2B marketplaces are back.

At its fall 2018 analyst day, the technology provider Tradeshift noted that 30% of its 2018 (revenue) bookings have come from “private marketplace” deals (i.e., not selling applications such as invoice-to-pay or e-procurement alone but buy-side and sell-side marketplace enablement).

But just what is a marketplace today — beyond pointing to Amazon Business as one example — and why do they matter? And most important, why would you, as a procurement organization or distribution/business intermediary, want to build one?

This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into these and other questions. Part 1 of this series begins by segmenting the market into (and defining) eight business scenarios that the groups can enable to go beyond standard procure-to-pay or storefront/e-commerce enablement, which include both “private” and “public” marketplace models. These include Digital Trading Company (“buy/sell” models), Extended Bill of Material Orchestration, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and Distributor “Value Add.”

For each of the eight areas, we provide a summary description of the marketplace concept, technologies (off-the-shelf) that can enable it, selected vendor shortlists, best-fit industries that it can support and best-fit spend categories (if applicable).

Later installments in the series will provider deeper insight into the following issues: what you’ll need to build one, technology vendors to consider capable of providing marketplace technology/infrastructure (based on Spend Matters’ SolutionMap benchmark data), and whether a marketplace, for procurement organizations, is a substitute for traditional cloud-based source-to-pay applications.

Spend Matters is involved in technology strategy and RFI projects for organizations building — or evaluating building — marketplaces using “off-the-shelf” technologies. Contact us to learn more.

E-Procurement Catalog Management and Search: Ivalua (Part 4) 

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For those people who are not in the weeds of B2B catalog management and search but know enough to have an opinion, it might seem that Ivalua would have some cards stacked against it on a comparative basis. Consider on the one hand that Ivalua is better known as a source-to-pay suite provider than an e-procurement specialist (although in Spend Matters’ Q3 E-Procurement SolutionMap Insider report, Ivalua is a top performer, tying with three other providers for second place overall in analyst/functional scoring). And on the other hand, Ivalua is very much a workflow, business process and industry specialist vs. a provider paying particular attention to all of the nuances of B2B search and catalog management as a core differentiator.

But is such a hypothesis accurate?

As with everything Ivalua, you must peel the product and platform onion to understand the depths of what it is capable of (and no, Ivalua does not toot its own horn enough here, as it should, given how strong it is overall). But before exploring Ivalua’s catalog management and search/requisitioning capabilities in detail and helping our readers to answer this question, it is essential to develop a foundational understanding of the topics at hand. We recommend starting here:



The first three briefs in this series, E-Procurement Catalog Management and Search: Introduction and Tradeshift Analysis, E-Procurement Catalog Management and Search: Oracle Procurement Cloud Analysis (Part 2) and E-Procurement Catalog Management and Search: Jaggaer Indirect Analysis (Part 3) provided a summary overview of the “best practice” Coupa is attempting to achieve by combining its own capability with Aquiire and Simeno. It also provided an analysis of Tradeshift’s, Oracle’s and Jaggaer’s catalog management capabilities. Today, we turn our attention to another top-performing (based on Q3 SolutionMap analyst scoring) e-procurement provider: Ivalua.

Lost Sourcing Savings: Survey Data Suggest a Crisis (Part 3)

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on sourcing strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Check out Part 1  and Part of this series first. 

If we were to point fingers at where technology can help companies drive implemented savings, five areas would rise to the top: demand aggregation, collaboration (internal and supplier), strategic sourcing (with an emphasis beyond driving to negotiated outcomes alone), analytics and architecture/information management. We won’t investigate the latter topic in this series because of the detailed analysis that our analyst team has already conducted. Yet in the other areas discussed, it’s worth exploring the different technology options, beginning with tools that support demand aggregation strategies.