For those of us who follow the e-invoicing market (and frankly if you don’t, you should) the recent announcement of a contingent deal between Tungsten and OB10 brings to a possible end the pioneering history of OB10.

OB10 was a real innovator in the e-invoicing market especially in Europe.  They seemed poised to make it big.  I always admired how they made the world “safe” for e-invoicing from a VAT perspective.  Somehow, however, they never really seemed to reach escape velocity.  I’m not sure why.

The announced deal sounded really “hairy”–involving a bank, analytics, and floating stock in Europe–so the story is far from over.  The price £99 in cash and stock was well reported, but the lazy folks who call themselves analysts failed to spend the £1 necessary to see OB10’s financials which indicated the following:

  • £16.3 million in revenue in the year ended April 30, 2012
  • A net loss of £2.6 million in the same period
  • A cumulative net loss since inception of nearly £50 million
  • 5% year over year growth in revenue and e-invoice volume

If the deal goes through, it will be a nice multiple on revenue and EBITDA, but a disappointing return for investors who put in a lot of capital.

Now a “hot” company named Tradeshift is trying to conquer the e-invoice market in Europe (and elsewhere) with a different technology, different business model, and during a different era.   So far Tradeshift has shown the ability to generate buzz, attract capital, and hire some good talent. How many e-invoices they are processing is less clear–a bad sign.  Its going to be really fun to see if the results are any different this time around.

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