Coupa’s acquisition of Zen Purchase: The perfect marriage of two trailblazers? by Jon Hansen

Posted on February 11, 2015


In announcing the launch of Procurement Insights’ New Wave Company program in 2014, I had made frequent references to the blog’s early days in which I focused on covering companies I believed were going to one day become major players.  In 2010, I interviewed Rob Bernshteyn on my radio show, in which Coupa was featured as being one of the new titans of the SaaS world.  You can listen to the on-demand broadcast through the following link: Emerging Giants: The New Titans of the SaaS World.

So it is no small irony that Coupa – who it is safe to say has lived up to and even exceeded my expectations from 5 years ago, acquired a company that we just this year identified as being a future player themselves.  I am of course talking about ZenPurchase.

As the head of one of our four New Wave Companies for 2015, Sunny Manivannan, co-founder and CEO of ZenPurchase, struck me as a man on a mission, who had both the vision and required skill set to cast a giant industry shadow.  The fact that Coupa recognized these same characteristics speaks volumes about the man and the company.  By the way, you can also listen to my recent interview with Sunny Manivannan through the following link; New Wave Companies 2015: Zen Purchase.

When I received word of the acquisition by way of a press release, the first thing that came to mind is that it represented the perfect marriage of two trailblazers.  My reasoning is simply this; while the vast majority of M&As fail to live up to expectations, the fact that both organizations were built on a foundation of revolutionizing the industry, means that they share a common history and vision.  Coupa’s CEO Bernshteyn so much as said this, when he made the statement that “Like Coupa, ZenPurchase was founded with the belief that traditional procurement systems were far too complicated for companies to adopt them across their organizations.”  In short, it is not an acquisition based on what looks good on paper, or part of a self-serving strategy to expand market share.  It is an acquisition – make that the meeting of minds – that will enhance both organizations’ ability to deliver a combined superior solution.

In this context, and rather than asking the perfunctory questions related to the information referenced in the press release, I was more interested in understanding the depth of alignment or synergy between Coupa and ZenPurchase.  After all, this is what will ultimately determine whether or not the acquisition will prove to be successful in the long run.

So first thing this morning, I fired off the following e-mail to Coupa:

How does Coupa’s acquisition of ZenPurchase impact the the latter’s 2020 Vision?

By the year 2020, we want the following to be true:

  1. Enterprise procurement is as intuitive as consumer purchasing.
  2. Every company in the world has access to vendor quality benchmarks at its fingertips.
  3. The speed of business increases rapidly even as supply chains become more global.
  4. Our customers see the Procurement function as a top source of competitive advantage.

The response – and I will of course share it with you once I receive it – will go a long way towards demonstrating the aforementioned alignment, and the likelihood that we will be looking back at this news through a positive lens a year from now.

By the way, you can track all of our New Wave 2015 companies through Twitter using the following hashtag #YRiLife2015

In perfect alignment?

In perfect alignment?