Today, TripActions, the leader in Travel & Expense Management, announced closing a $304MM Series G round at a $9.2BN post-money valuation. The raise is a combination of $154 million in equity from existing investors Group 11, Zeev Ventures, A16Z, Greenoaks Capital, Base Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, as well as a $150 million structured capital transaction led by Coatue. This Series G marks the third financing round for the company in three years. TripActions adds Sandesh Patnam to the Board of Directors and Coatue Ventures Chairman Dan Rose will join as a Board Observer
TripActions had a foundational 2021 and first half of 2022, with US corporate and personal travel on their platform surpassing pre-March 2020 levels. They have fully built out their Liquid T&E offering, which is both a corporate card and expense management and reconciliation platform for their business travel customers. They acquired Reed & Mackay, Resia, and Comtravo to expand their EU footprint. In addition, they released their TripActions’ consumer app (‘Lemonade’), allowing any employee to easily book personal flights and hotels from their massive inventory, with all of the same perks and real time travel updates enjoyed by TripActions’ business customers. Sailing through 2022, those same 8,800+ TripActions customers, like Unilever, Zoom, Lyft, Rivian, Gusto, and SurveyMonkey, have been out and about growing their businesses!
This major financing is welcome news in an environment of uncertainty and fear in public tech stocks and investing in general. In 2020, we had a complete shutdown of global travel for months as the world experienced its first real pandemic in nearly a century. At the beginning of 2022, we have had even more random and disruptive inputs of rising interest rates, rampant US inflation, persistent COVID variations, a painful punch to US public stocks that have pretty much erased any 2021 gains, and a ‘special military operation’ in Eastern Europe.
You would think that with this multi-layered, constant stream of bad news and financial market uncertainty, everyone would continue to be hiding in their shelters three years in. However, contrary to people’s perception of paralyzing fear and unpredictability throughout public markets and the world, some of us, including TripActions, their customers, and Group 11, are still working towards and building better tomorrows.
How have we been looking for better tomorrows? Well, it is not about ignoring the real and pressing issues of 2022. It is about how we as leaders face and manage this new Era of Chaos and ultimately succeed. As Group 11 promised we would, we have written extensively about these issues. And the answers to those issues come from the related concepts of anti-fragility in business. Halfway through 2022, we believe the fundamental discourse is now: How will globally-minded tech companies succeed and handle a new workforce, the shifting financial markets, and all of the global inputs of constant, yet unpredictable change?
We believe TripActions is a great example and has some of the answers to these fundamental questions around antifragility in travel and expense management as well as their company structure. They have survived, by adapting to the constant change from 2020–2022, and their success is proof of how companies will navigate and succeed in this new Era of Chaos. So, how have they done it?
Powerful, real-time, data-infused analytics — Since day one, TripActions has promoted automation first. This is the most important component of how TripActions has adapted to and been successful in this Era of Chaos. At Group 11, we call this something metaphorically akin to a human-computer symbiosis, but practically it is a platform that facilitates computers to do what they do best (computation, memory recollection, storage and retrieval), and helping humans to do what they do best (intuition, customer service, abstract thinking, and empathy). It utilizes AI to handle a vast amount of data inputs (historical global travel that promotes predictive trends), but also is able to respond to real time events (delays, new COVID restrictions, price changes, live customer prompts) to continue to offer a great product. There can be no lag in reporting — data is ingested automatically and it must be virtually instantaneous. If your industry generates millions of data each minute, your platform and end-user product must automatically make that data relevant and actionable in near real-time.
Expand horizontally — Antifragile businesses can’t be on the defensive; they must look to build for the future which involves adding products and global market growth internally, or buying it externally. This is represented in TripActions’ recent acquisitions and why they are raising more capital. With that, you must expand yourself globally, as TripActions is now 2,500+ employees across dozens of offices covering 40 markets globally. Obviously, this starts with making sure you have a long-term horizon capital position (always raise capital when you can, not when you have to).
Expand omni-directionally — Launch more products for your customer demographic, and launch more relevant products for new customers and new demographics. TripActions realized early on that if you can control the expenses, logistics, and paperwork that is produced from corporate travel, then you can handle a huge chunk of a business’ time reconciling expenses. For TripActions, this was manifested in building out Liquid as well as Lemonade since 2019. They are truly the only company that brings corporate cards, T&E management, and travel booking all into one platform for business, whilst also offering it as a consumer product.
Properly manage a globally-dispersed workforce — With the above, TripActions encouraged its rapidly growing global workforce to build its work culture unique to its office location and welcome the new hybrid workforce. This meant hiring correctly and at the right pace. It also meant giving your employees collaboration tools, ERP, sales, and HR software that facilitate efficiency, meritocracy, self-improvement, and clear communication while dispersed across multiple offices, languages, and teams. This is no easy task in 2022 and TripActions has been doing it properly.
No matter what, keep the customer first — Your customers and employees must love your product, and you must listen and actively respond to their feedback. Pushes with fixes and updates to users (both front and backend) happen bi-weekly, if not hourly. If the app purports quick response times for help or tickets, then that is minutes (TripActions boasts sub-45sec CS response times across the platform), not hours. TripActions’ AI chat bot actually works! It is able to handle most travel related issues (#1 being delays and rebooking of flights) without the need of a human CS to intervene or escalate. Instead of believing in us, TripActions has promoted a mission of trust and transparency with their customers, and in a rare move for their industry, publishes their own Customer Service KPIs. I dare you to find tech competitors that do the same. A 98% customer retention through 2021 is further proof of strong engagement and customer trust in their platform.
All of the above accomplishments, product, goals, and processes have built TripActions into a flexible, anti-fragile business. This flexibility, and ability to adapt to constant change, has put TripActions far ahead of their competitors and set them apart as a tech and travel and expense management leader going into 2023. We believe more tech companies with ERP, HR, T&E, and FP&A software platforms will start looking more like TripActions, and less like their current legacy offerings. As shared in Group 11’s Fintech’s Quantum Leap, “True disruption appears not as a better version of a legacy product, but as an unrecognizable offering that obliterates the old value proposition.”
We celebrate this fundraising news with TripActions’ leadership, their globally dispersed teams, their existing investors, and the new investors joining the company. This is positive and welcome news amidst the array of discouraging news. This additional capital helps TripActions continue building out their consumer-side travel platform, expand into new geographies, and further pull ahead as a global leader in technology and travel and expense management.
One last note:
At the end of 2018, we published a prediction about TripActions, and in June 2019, we amended our prediction to: “Group 11 strongly believes that TripActions has all the ingredients required to become a decacorn (a valuation of $10 billion) within the next two years.” This was well before COVID halted global travel.
Regardless, it appears we were correct.