TripActions, a booking and management platform that offers enterprises real-time data, automated reporting, and insights into business travel and expenses, has raised $155 million in a series E round of funding co-led by existing investor Andreessen Horowitz. The Palo Alto-based company is now valued at $5 billion, up from the $4 billion valuation at its series D round 18 months ago.
The raise and valuation comes as small businesses and enterprises across the spectrum embrace new ways of functioning, with remote work taking center stage. Moreover, corporate travel has been decimated by the pandemic, raising questions around the viability of platforms like TripActions.
Founded in 2015, TripActions is an AI-enabled platform that gives companies of all sizes access to inventory spanning flight, accommodation, and car rentals, alongside 24/7 access to a global network of travel agents. But one of the big sells for businesses is the growing amount of data it offers, with TripActions now serving as an end-to-end tool encompassing both travel and expense management.
Through the TripActions spend management dashboard, companies can filter and view travel and expense data by date range, geography, or category, and more.
“Having all of this data in one place makes it easier to run a report,” Michael Sindicich, GM of TripActions’ payments and expenses product Liquid, told VentureBeat. “A good example of this is the spend management dashboard that launched a few months back. Since we have data from Liquid, we’re able to actively surface and monitor real-time spend to help program managers properly budget and monitor for outlying activity.”
AI and machine learning underpin much of the TripActions platform. On the travel side, the tech is used to optimize flights and hotels based on a company or individual’s preferences, historical travel behavior, and more. And on the Liquid (payments and expenses) side, TripActions leverages AI to automatically classify each expense to a category, detect items that aren’t permitted under a company’s policy, and align spending with corporate events in the calendar.
Over the past year, TripActions has introduced dozens of new products and updates as it adapts to a new corporate climate. These include a new enterprise-focused offering and integrations with enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools such as NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Xero, and more. This update is designed to help finance teams dig deep on payments and expense data in real time, rather than waiting for employees to manually submit expenses, as would be the case with traditional systems.
TripActions also launched a COVID-19 dashboard that includes “business travel continuity tools” to deliver insights into metrics such as the countries with the most active COVID-19 cases per 100,000, or areas with quarantine restrictions for travelers.
Future of work
As with many businesses operating in the travel realm, 2020 was a tumultuous year for TripActions. As the world entered lockdown last March, the company laid off hundreds of staff before receiving a financial lifeline in the form of a $125 million debt round of financing to weather the COVID-19 storm and expand deeper into the enterprise market. But however positive one’s outlook, it’s difficult to imagine corporate travel returning to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, if ever.
However, TripActions’ $155 million raise, which takes its total equity financing to $665 million, alongside its lofty $5 billion valuation suggests investors are bullish about the company’s prospects.
“Corporate travel won’t ever be the same, but that doesn’t really affect the long-term plans of our company or our investors,” TripActions cofounder and CEO Ariel Cohen told VentureBeat. “Even if travel is different in the future — say, more teams travel for remote team meetings or a wider spectrum of employees travel fewer times per year — TripActions will still be winning that business.”
Moreover, TripActions’ shift last February into the broader corporate expense sphere is now looking more prescient than ever, as it gives the company more inroads into enterprises’ finance departments. Indeed, the company said it has seen growing demand from businesses looking for tools to help manage their expenditures.
“The spend management technologies that TripActions has launched in the last year really help expand our business into new markets that are parallel to corporate travel,” Cohen said. “The funding round is a long-term bet on expanding the Liquid portfolio and the long-term prospect of capturing outsized market share in the corporate travel segment.”
Looking further to the future, there is every chance corporate travel will resume some semblance of “business as usual” once the vaccines roll out more widely — Zoom fatigue is a growing phenomenon, after all. Zoom is in fact a TripActions client, alongside other notable names from the business world, including Okta, Box, Lyft, Pinterest, and Silicon Valley Bank.
“We strongly believe business travel will return — maybe not at 100%, but we believe 75% within the next year — and may even exceed pre-COVID levels as a function of a more distributed workforce,” Cohen said. “We know the desire is there. Our customers have told us that their travelers are eager to return once they feel safe doing so. Digital meeting fatigue is real, and we believe strongly in the in-person connection.”
In addition to Andreessen Horowitz, TripActions’ series E round was co-led by Addition Ventures and Elad Gil, with participation from Zeev Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Greenoaks Capital.
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