Concur Bets Big on Mobile, the Next Big Revolution in Biz Travel
Concur Technologies is often cited as one of the Seattle area’s under-the-radar success stories: A growing public company, founded in 1993, that sells travel and expense reporting software to businesses big and small.
Instagram, it definitely ain’t.
But the cool-obsessed technology industry, whose investors and insiders tend to reward swagger, is missing something if it hasn’t looked at Concur’s recent run of investments and technology initiatives.
Those changes tell the tale of a company (NASDAQ: CNQR) that is betting on the next big change in the digital world, the rapid shift of computing into cloud-based services delivered instantly to users toting powerful mobile devices.
It promises to be a much bigger shift than the original change from analog to digital that got Concur started.
If the Redmond, WA-based company can navigate this huge change in how people find and pay for travel, and hold off Wall Street’s hunger for short-term results, Concur could eventually lose that “quiet success story” label.
Many people probably know that Concur bought TripIt for up to $120 million in early 2011, a big play to consolidate modern online travel booking with Concur’s existing products. “Today, if you look at the U.S. market for corporate travel, 50 percent of all online booking of corporate travel occurs in Concur,” CEO Steve Singh says.
Less talked about are Concur’s investments in other small companies. Concur is the largest shareholder in RideCharge, the makers of the Taxi Magic smartphone app for booking cabs, after leading a $4.6 million investment in the startup in 2009.
(RideCharge is headed by Tom DePasquale, a former Concur executive who joined the company through its 2006 acquisition of Outtask—Concur’s first foray into adding travel booking services.)
In addition, Concur has a stake in Room 77, a San Francisco startup that promises to help travelers select their own hotel rooms by showing the layouts and even window views before they check in, similar to how airlines let you pick specific seats on a plane. For its overseas operations, Concur also invested $40 million last year in Cleartrip, an online travel-booking service focused on India.
The company also has been building a developer platform that offers outside coders, existing customers, and travel suppliers the ability to tie their software into the Concur system’s 18 million users at 15,000 companies—and even build new apps that could do things the larger company might not be equipped to handle.
“There’s going to be a set of people in Chile who will do a better job of building out train and bus and hotel booking than we can ever do, because they’re in-country and they’re there focusing on that problem,” Singh says. “Our view is, we don’t care if it’s specific to five people in the world or applicable to all 18 million users.”
Wall Street, however, would like to see higher profits on Concur’s considerable revenue stream, which is expected to hit about $440 million for this fiscal year. While some analysts have been bullish following Concur’s … Next Page »