Acquired or Acq-hired, Xpenser Adds Expertise to Coupa’s Web Services

Some startups are born great, some achieve greatness—and some get acquired.

Getting acquired can mean different things, however. In the case of Xpenser, a consumer Web startup based in Del Mar, CA (just north of San Diego), the buyout disclosed last week by San Francisco-based Coupa Software was more like getting hired.

Founded in 2008 by Parand “Tony” Darugar, Xpenser is a Web and mobile app startup that specializes in managing work-related travel and expenses. Coupa, which provides cloud-based software that enables companies to manage their procurement expenses and vender invoices, announced the acquisition at its annual users conference in San Francisco.

The price of the deal was not disclosed. But Darugar tells me he won’t be retiring to La Jolla to begin life anew as an angel investor—at least not anytime soon. Rather, he says, “the goal for this acquisition is to take our experience, product, and leadership, and bring that to bear with their existing platform. I’m taking a leadership role. I am now leading the expense management part of the business for Coupa.”

According to a spokeswoman for Coupa, the Xpenser deal is in line with an emerging trend, which includes Dropbox’s March 15 buyout of Mailbox, an e-mail management app startup, and Pinterest’s March 20 acquisition of Livestar, an app that helps people find local recommendations from their friends. In the latter case, Pinterest shut down the Livestar app and said Livestar’s engineering talent would be joining the Pinterest team.

Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn

In a statement last week, Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn said, “Xpenser’s roadmap is very well-aligned with our vision for smarter expense management, and by leveraging Xpenser’s expertise, we’ll accelerate that vision much quicker, as part of our fast-developing, organically built suite of capabilities.”

Yet Xconomy San Francisco Editor Wade Roush tells me Bernshteyn sounded like he was more interested in Xpenser’s talent in an interview last week during the users conference. “Instead of slapping their product into ours and combining them together,” Bernshteyn told Roush, “we are going to move their key capabilities into the Coupa platform. We are acquiring the knowledge and the years of tried-and-tested market perseverance. They have over 70,000 users.”

Bernshteyn was more direct with me when we talked by phone yesterday. He said, “We’re not as interested in the technology, so we really didn’t buy the product at all. We bought the talent and the people.”

Such talk makes it sound as … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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