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What You Should Know About the IPO From This Oracle and SAP Rival

A logo sign outside of the headquarters of Coupa in San Mateo, California on January 24, 2016.A logo sign outside of the headquarters of Coupa in San Mateo, California on January 24, 2016.
Coupa Software HQ in San Mateo, California on January 24, 2016.Alamy Stock Photo

And then there were three.

Coupa Software, a specialist in software for managing corporate spending on everything from travel to office supplies, has officially filed plans to raise $75 million in an initial public offering.

Hints that the company was preparing its prospectus emerged in early July. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol COUP, with Morgan Stanley (MS) serving as lead underwriter.

That would make it the third business software company to brave the public markets so far this year. Twilio (TWLO), a maker of cloud communications software used by the likes of Coca-Cola (KO), paved the way with its successful debut in June. Big data firm Talend (TLND), which counts Air France and Citi (C) as clients, followed about one month later in late July. Both companies priced their offers above expectations.

As was the case with Twilio, 10-year-old Coupa is a so-called “unicorn”—a private company valued at more than $1 billion. The company has raised around $165 million privately, including an $80 million round in June 2015. Among its bigger backers are Mohr Davidow Ventures (16.3% pre-IPO stake), Battery Ventures (16.2%), El Dorado Ventures (13.9%), BlueRun Ventures (12.7%), and Crosslink Ventures (11.1%). T. Rowe Price Associates led its latest round, along with Iconiq Capital and Premji Invest.

Coupa sells so-called e-procurement software that helps finance teams control spending and, in theory, negotiate better terms for buying everything from janitorial supplies to information technology.

According to its S1 registration, Coupa generated approximately $84 million in its 2016 fiscal year ended Jan. 31. For the six months ended July 31, it recorded $60.3 million in sales. It’s running at a loss: $46.2 million for fiscal year 2016 and $24.3 million for the first six months of the current one. (Both of those losses, however, were smaller than the year-earlier comparisons.)

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Here are three other revelations from a quick perusal of Coupa’s IPO registration:

  1. It’s adding customers slowly. Coupa’s count is hovering around 460 companies, including Swiss Re, Williams-Sonoma, Salesforce (CRM), Land O’Lakes, and Sanofi. Its software is used to manage about $250 billion in corporate spending, and Coupa estimates its clients have saved more than $8 billion cumulatively. It’s worth noting that Coupa’s customer count has been just below 500 for more than a year. The company cites long “unpredictable” sales cycles as a potential risk factor.
  2. It’s fighting some pretty stiff competition. Founded by two Oracle (ORCL) executives, Coupa’s main rivals are SAP (SAP) (through its Ariba and Concur divisions) and Oracle. Both have better brand recognition and bigger marketing budgets. Coupa is also likely to face competition from the cadre of software startups cropping up to offer financial management and corporate planning applications, including Workday (WDAY).
  3. It’s banking heavily on international expansion. Less than one-third of Coupa’s revenue (29%) comes from sales outside of the United States. In order to serve multi-national customers, the company will need to build its expertise in this area.