Few office activities are more depressing than an expense claim. All that remains of a huge sales trip or ego-boosting conference speech is a pile of stacked receipts.
American travel software company Navan aims to reduce misery. The global appeal of this proposal — and the pixie dust of OpenAI connectivity — may encourage Navan to revive the moribund market for US initial public offerings.
Palo Alto has weathered the travel meltdown during the pandemic. It is growing rapidly as flights return and are introduced to the public. Business travel is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year, Deloitte estimates.
The name Navan is a strange combination of the words avant and avant. It’s the result of a recent useless rebranding from the previous name, TripActions.
Navan has struck a deal with AI-powered company OpenAI that is supposed to make the service more personal, with personalized itineraries. It could also cut employee costs one day by replacing agents with chatbots.
At the moment, the costs are high. To date, Navan has raised more than $1.4 billion from investors including Andreessen Horowitz. It has secured more than $400 million in credit facilities. This has helped cover the acquisition of five companies in two years, including Tribor in India.
The number of employees doubled over the same period. Navan has expanded into various types of expenses and services providing financing facilities to clients.
Last October, the company was valued at $9.2 billion. Revenue was $300 million last year, which indicates a sharp late sales multiple of 31 times. The expense software market is led by SAP Concur, which is owned by German software giant SAP. The equivalent SAP multiplier is five times. Peer Booking Holdings is worth six times more sales.
Navan was aiming for a $12 billion valuation, according to reports last year. But a loss-making software company focused on growth needs to remember the vulgarity of expense claims and settle for less.
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