Coupa Acquires Bellin Group

Probably the most acquisitive company that we follow has landed yet another acquisition. A couple of key excerpts:

“Coupa Software (NASDAQ: COUP), a leader in Business Spend Management (BSM), today announced that it has acquired BELLIN Group, a leading provider of treasury management software (TMS). With a long history in treasury, BELLIN’s cloud-based TMS platform improves visibility and control over cash and optimizes treasury processes. The acquisition will extend Coupa’s value within treasury, payments, and working capital processes, strengthening Coupa’s position as a comprehensive and indispensable platform for managing business spend.”

"As an integral part of the Coupa platform and positioned as Coupa Treasury Management, BELLIN will offer businesses:

Full cash and liquidity management and forecasting
Advanced payments capabilities
Management of cash and liquidity risks and exposures
Sophisticated intercompany netting"…

Vinegar101: As a stand alone app, Bellin does not sound so impressive. But as one part of Coupa’s suite of extensive functionalities, it further broadens the ways that Coupa can provide a very positive ROI for its customers. Depending on how much Coupa paid (it is undisclosed to the best of my knowledge), this feels like another very positive acquisition for Coupa and fits in nicely with the company’s business strategy.


Are they acquiring tax offsets with these purchases, too?

Another company that did a lot of rolling up other companies is/was (STMP) Those favorable tax offsets can be used for years to benefit cash flow…

I’m pretty sure this board followed (or examined) STMP at some point in time.

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Can anyone with technology acquisition experience shed some light on how this works? For context, I’ve written software. I run development projects.

Assuming the goal is to integrate the acquired software, you’d need to:

  • Make it easy to plug in to existing solutions. This sort of thing would likely take anywhere from 1-6 months depending on the depth of the system and integration.
  • Maybe add another month for simple rebranding? Add a few months if a deeper re-skinning of the interface is needed if it has to look like a seamless extension of an existing system.

These can be done at the same time since they are different development disciplines.

So far this may all sound pretty easy. BUT…

Then you have to take in to account the human resources. Usually you don’t have a team of developers sitting around waiting for a big project to land in their laps. They have other work to do. New features, bug fixes, maintenance (technical, under-the-hood, migrations and code churn) and such. When an acquisition happens you have these two teams that each know their own code base. They have their own development methodologies (which can be borderline religious at times). First you have to restructure and decide what sort of code/repository/workflow conformation you can take on right away versus leave as “legacy patterns” versus tackle as-you-go. This adds weeks, sprinkled in throughout the process and depending on how deeply you want to integrate the new company you may have new employee ramp-up time of 1-3 months.

Then there is the choice about how to structure the organization as a whole. Is it…

  • A separate entity that will just provide APIs and integrations, almost like outsourcing?
  • A full integration where all the employees just become members of the new company.

…and of course there are the gray areas in between and all around these points. There is interplay between them. This is a real challenge!

The good news is if a company does this a lot, and they do it well, you can just ignore the details and trust them (Middleby is known for being a successful serial acquirer for example, but that is a very different industry and scenario). In fact, this may be a significant moat-factor. It is hard to do this well! On the other side of that coin, if there are signs it is done badly I might consider staying away.

Any thoughts on this or how COUP is doing at it?


Like you said, this is Coupa’s moat. They do several acquisitions each year and already for many years. So they figured this out years ago. Not sure the detail. But I trust the management.