Navan is about to IPO, on track to reach profitability by 2024, CEO said

TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen


The boss of travel and expense management platform Navan told CNBC he is preparing the company to shape its business for an initial public offering this year, a sign Another shows that leaders of private startups are more optimistic about their prospects in the public markets. .

When asked about when Navan chose to IPO, the company’s CEO and co-founder Ariel Cohen said the company was close to reaching that milestone. “We can see the signals,” he said, adding that Navan is adjusting its leadership structure and making changes on the board to show signs of maturity.

Last month, Navan announced the return of Rich Liu, formerly Navan’s chief revenue officer and “an expert in scaling companies from seed stage to IPO and beyond,” back to operations. in business as CEO of Navan Travel, the company’s tourism division.

Amy Butte, the former chief financial officer of the New York Stock Exchange who oversaw the US exchange operator’s transition to a public company in 2006, was also appointed to the board of directors of Navan as chairman of the audit committee.

“I don’t want to give a specific date,” Cohen told CNBC, adding that he hadn’t even told his family the date he expected Navan to IPO — let alone the board. his administration and the staff of Navan. “Ultimately, there are things that are beyond my control.”

“The market could crash. There’s an election in America. There’s a war. So I really never promise anything to people if I don’t know that the delivery is within my control.” , he added.

While Cohen was non-committal on Navan’s final IPO date, he said the business is “not far away” from being ready to list on the stock market. He said the company is on track to become cash flow positive and turn a profit for the first time this year.

“The timing will need to include a number of things,” he said. “Today, in this market, to be public, you need to be profitable. We are not far away, but we are not there. We will be there this year. And it’s not easy to do Get it while you’re growing rapidly.”

Cohen said he is also being cautious about the market – but added that while in the past, investors would have seen a company like his dependent on buoyant market sentiment around technology, today He felt the company was “mature enough” to become an independent company. of the market context.

Navan CEO Ariel Cohen negotiates cooperation with Citi

According to Cohen, Navan is currently growing revenue by an average of about 40%, with the company’s fintech business growing faster (100%) than its travel business (30%).

Founded in 2015 as TripActions, Navan started life as a travel management platform for businesses, looking to provide a smoother experience for travel agencies and incumbent players like American ExpressBCD Travel, and SAP Agree. The company counts the number of likes Unilever and Christie’s is a client.

The company later expanded into the spending and payments space with solutions that automate credit card linking to a single platform and automate expenses.

Navan is backed by major investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue, Goldman Sachs and Lightspeed. To date, Navan has raised more than $1.5 billion in venture capital and was last valued at $9.2 billion. It competes with Spanish startup TravelPerk, which was most recently valued at $1.4 billion.

Navan introduced a major evolution of that product last year with the launch of Navan Connect, a new charging product.

Most corporate card startups, such as Brex and Ramp, offer users their own branded corporate smart cards. However, Navan’s Connect feature, launched in partnership with Citi, allows businesses to provide automated expense management and reconciliation services without having to change corporate card providers.

Like other technology companies, Navan has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence. The company launched its own AI personal assistant, called Ava, last year. This tool uses synthetic AI to help travelers, travel administrators, and financial managers effectively plan travel and budget.

Ava – short for automated virtual assistant – currently handles around 150,000 conversations monthly, more than 35% of which managed to be completed as of April 2024, according to Navan.

Cohen said Navan is planning to launch an even more personalized version of Ava’s AI assistant, which can create travel plans for someone based on their past behavior. , with even greater accuracy over a six-month period.

Navan is on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list for the 2024 edition.

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