Rearden Commerce Raises Another $40 Million, Lays Off 18 Percent

Rearden Commerce, the under-the-radar automated online assistant that helps people organize travel needs and other services, has raised another $40 million in a Series F funding from JPMorgan Chase. This latest round brings Rearden’s total funding up to $240 million since the company’s launch in 2000. JPMorgan Chase is a marketing partner and a pre-existing investor. Greg O’Hara and Rick Smith, both general partners from One Equity Partners, JPMorgan Chase’s private equity fund, will be joining Rearden’s board, although the funding comes from Chase Capital Partners.

Unfortunately, the funding is bittersweet for the company because it coincides with a round of layoffs. Rearden let go roughly 60 employees from a staff of 335 employees (or 18 percent), following a round of layoffs last November of around 10 percent (or 40 employees) of the company’s staff.

At this point, with so much capital invested in the company, the best hope for Rearden investors to see a returns is if it goes public. Rearden is hoping for an IPO, but before it files it wants to hit profitability, and therefore it is cutting its way there. Public investors are going to want to see evidence of sustainable profits and clear revenue growth. Investors generally prefer companies that are hiring to keep up with growth than cutting back to hit their numbers.

Rearden is better known in the corporate world, offering its services to more than 5,000 corporations, up from 1,700 in May, 2008, with over 2 million individual employees using the service. American Express resells the service to its business customers. Last year, Chase also signed on as a reseller and marketing partner, offering the Rearden’s personal web concierge service to its bank cardholders.

Rearden offers enterprises an automated personal assistant that helps their employees organize any sort of travel-related task. They can set their profile up with the types of restaurants they like, whether they like aisle or window seats, and their preferred car provider, and Rearden will book all aspects of their trip for them. Rearden also launched a mobile version of its service that will sync up with their calendar, message them with alerts and allows them to make changes to their itineraries and bookings. The service also keeps track of reward miles and points from airlines, hotels, and rental cars, and lets employees use those points to book additional travel and other services. The service will even keep track of travel credits and apply them to future trips.

The company had a banner year in 2008, raising $100 million in funding, growing the company’s client and user base and expanding into the mobile space. The site also acquired Global Ground Automation to assist with limousine and other ground transportation reservations, and ExpenseWire to simplify expense reporting for users. Rearden is still planning to target consumers directly, after promising to roll out a consumer-facing service for the past few years.