TechCrunch a weblog that “dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies” has an interesting post on Rearden Commerce a company that bills itself as providing “the world’s largest online marketplace for services of all kinds, including travel, entertainment, package shipping, and meeting services”. Its online personal assistant sllows employees to “purchase services from a vast network of trusted merchants based on personal preferences and company policies”. The company claims it is a one-stop shop that balances user convenience and corporate control.
As TechCrunch notes Rearden’s personal assistant does an incredible array of things and the company is “targeting global services – hotel, airline, restaurants, rental cars, shipping, event tickets, and parking. Their strategy to date has been to sign large corporate customers and create customized websites for their employees. The service acts very much like a personal assistant. Set your profile up with the types of restaurants you like, whether you like aisle or window seats, and your preferred car provider, and Rearden will book all aspects of your trip for you”.
Rearden’s business model is centered around the corporates via a yearly fee. Once again as TechCrunch reports ” Companies like it because they have to hire fewer administrative staff, and have excellent visibility into discretionary travel and entertainment spending (because it all goes through the site). Companies can also control costs easily – if they are having a rough fiscal quarter, they can simply turn off business class travel and expensive hotels”. Pretty powerful stuff. This should be one that the industry should watch closely – ultimately the efficiencies Rearden generates will accrue to the benefit of (savvy) hotel companies but there is going to be a bit of shakeout as business execs spending patterns can be controlled far more easily and adjusted based on corporate performance and probably will contribute materially to removing wasteful T&E expenses.
Should Rearden go the IPO route – very likely – it should be one to watch (and invest in!).