In a bid to reach scale and with it reap the benefits that network effects bring, Tradeshift, the free e-invoicing and business interactions platform, has partnered with Intuit, along with taking a strategic investment from the legacy accounting software maker. The amount isn’t being disclosed — said only to be ‘multi-million’ and at an increased valuation than Tradeshift’s most recent funding round.
The deal will also see Tradeshift’s platform integrated with Intuit’s QuickBooks, giving it access to a 5 million-strong customer base and potentially expanding Tradeshift’s current numbers well beyond the 150,000 SMBs it stands at today — creating what it says will be “one of the largest networks of connected suppliers”.
The use of the word network is significant, an e-invoicing and broader business B2B trading platform is only as useful as its ubiquity and/or standards support, thus removing the friction of doing business electronically. To that end, if Intuit’s customers can be brought on board, it’s a big win for the SMBs that already use Tradeshift as well as the company itself.
Writing on the company blog, CEO and co-founder, Christian Lanng, giddily sums it up best:
Why does this matter? Scale. The value of any communications network increases directly in proportion to number of users — and when it reaches a point where it includes most of the businesses you want to interact with, something amazing happens. Skype, Facebook, Linkedin; all these platforms are successful because they have critical mass.
Specifically, today’s partnership will see Intuit’s accounting and payments products integrated with Tradeshift’s electronic trading network so that it will be easier for SMBs using QuickBooks to comply with their enterprise customers’ e-invoicing mandates. Likewise, says Tradeshift, large enterprises should find that more of their suppliers will be willing to use e-invoicing etc. via the platform due to “the reduced cost and friction enabled by the planned integrations”. You get the idea.
QuickBooks customers in the UK are said to be the first to benefit via a free app that connects their Tradeshift and QuickBooks accounts. A platform play in the proper sense, Tradeshift is also talking up what today’s announcement does for app developers who’ll also benefit from increased scale.
Note: An earlier draft press release that has since been retracted pegged Intuit’s investment at $10 million. Tradeshift are keen to stress that the figure is “an old number and factually not accurate.”