Coupa: Once a Target - Now Acquired

Fred Teekens
Dec. 28,2022 | Software Coupa

Coupa’s rise in the SaaS Business Spend Management sector has been impressive since its founding in 2006. Since its stock traded at an all-time high in 2021 at over $350/share, it’s been a rocky road for the company. In a market with greater competition and an economy putting inflationary pressure on companies, Coupa has found both its market cap and stock price plummeting since that high water mark. Since the very start of 2022, Coupa has been targeted as a potential acquisition, and as of this week – that’s what happened with Private Equity firm Thoma Bravo has agreed to an $8B takeover.

With Thoma Bravo, trying to acquire, they may be in the running for combining two companies in their portfolio, the first being Coupa and the other Hyland, whereby Coupa is covering the spend management capabilities for customers and Hyland is covering the AP automation. This could provide for deep integration and realized operational efficiencies for an area where most providers only offer part of the solution.

The fact that Thoma Bravo is willing to pay roughly 63% above the last trading (pre=press), and valuing the company at $8B, this indicated that either they see a lot of potential in optimizing and combining with other portfolio companies, or they are more interested in the data that the Coupa network is holding. The insight and market intelligence contained in the spending of Coupa customers could provide a treasure trove of market trends and analysis to leverage.

What does it mean for current and potential customers?

The Good:

There is no doubt that Spend management and AP Automation are an excellent area for enterprises to gain operational efficiencies. With limited resources being available companies will continue the trend of automating standard processes as much as possible. At same time, companies will want to have a good grip on their spending and where they are spending money, for which spend management and reporting software like Coupa is very much of interest.

The return on investment comes from many different areas:

  • Process Automation – fewer moving parts to almost any system leads to cost benefits.
  • Staffing Optimization – when supplier transactions are automated, there are opportunities to lower total costs in managing them.
  • Cash Management – when the AP/P2P processes are automated, cash is more efficient and financial opportunities in your own payment and discount agreements can be realized.
  • Risk Mitigation – with tighter controls on budget processes, fraudulent spending, closely tracking payables, and near real time control company wide, the chance that your company misses something is significantly reduced.

Coupa enjoys good ratings from its customers as well:

Gartner Peer Insights: 4.6 out of 5.

The (Potentially) Bad:

The downside is to P2P solutions are that they are very expensive and hard to get implemented to the full extent in the organization. We have many companies not getting the full potential out of the solution acquired. There are many reasons for this around:

  • Resistance to change, both internally and externally. Not everyone and everything is ready for change, which includes the suppliers you intend on using the platform.
  • Lack of current and accurate data around spend. In order to optimize spend and ‘set up’ your new platform, you need to know what you have first or you will just be setting up the new system to fail.

A word of caution as Coupa also offers the ‘Coupa Network’ which portends to provide Coupa clients with pre-negotiated terms for products of suppliers who are connected to the network.   Now this sounds easy and convenient, but we believe this would not be the right way to go as you will miss out on market competitiveness and forego the actual validation of a product meeting your requirements. That would be like buying Coupa software without validating the market for competitive offerings that might be more inexpensive and a better fit for purpose.

Other key elements to consider in a Coupa solution:

  • Complexity of your organization ( single entity vs Multi entity)
  • Geographic location
  • ERP to integrate with
  • Approval flow in ERP or AP Automation Tool
  • Cloud or on premise
  • Volumes that need to be transacted
  • Invoice demographics ( e-invoice, PO, matching, PDF’s , limited line items, many line items, etc.)

Like many suppliers, when dealing with Coupa do not rely on their version of a business case designed by them to extract more budget from you. Overrated expectations and quite often disappointing implementations lead to tanking business value and ROI. The recipe of high sales price and cost per transaction coupled with a solution having lower than expected ROI, is a lose-lose scenario.

Lastly, we always encourage competitive RFPs to fully validate the right solution for your organization, which starts with knowing who the competition is. Coupa’s main competitors are:

In closing, before choosing to go down the path (or re-evaluate an existing platform) of spend management and AP automation, ensure you have a good view of the business characteristics that will contribute to the ROI of your organization. Only in this way can you truly validate a realistic business case which can then support the negotiations in a competitive landscape leading to an optimized outcome. In turn, this should lead to an implementation that is supportive of the business, rather than becoming one of the many failed projects that leaves a poor impression on the rest of the organization and exacerbates end user challenges.

As always, NET(net) can support you through this process so please reach out to us and schedule a time to connect on how we might be able to help you.

About NET(net) 

Founded in 2002, NET(net) is the world’s leading IT Investment Optimization firm, helping clients find, get, and keep more economic and strategic value in their technology supply chains. With over 2,500 clients around the world in nearly all industries and geographies, and with the experience of over 25,000 field engagements with over 250 technology suppliers in XaaS, Cloud, Hardware, Software, Services, Healthcare, Outsourcing, Infrastructure, Telecommunications, and other areas of IT spend, NET(net) has the expertise you need, the experience you want, and delivers the performance you demand, resulting in incremental client captured value in excess of $250 billion since 2002. Contact us today at, visit us online at, or call us at +1-616-546-3100 to see if we can help you capture more value in your IT investments, agreements, and relationships. 

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