Blackline Inc   (BL)
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   Industry Software & Programming
   Sector  Technology

Blackline Inc

Business Description

We have created a comprehensive cloud-based software platform designed to transform and modernize accounting and finance operations for organizations of all types and sizes. Our secure, scalable platform supports critical accounting processes such as the financial close, account reconciliations, intercompany accounting, and controls assurance. By introducing software to automate these processes and to enable them to function continuously, we empower our customers to improve the integrity of their financial reporting, increase efficiency in their accounting and finance processes and enhance real-time visibility into their results and operations.

Critical accounting and finance processes underlie the integrity of an organization’s financial reports. The lack of effective accounting and finance tools can result in inefficient and cumbersome processes and, in some cases, accounting errors, restatements and write-offs, as well as material weaknesses and significant deficiencies. Traditional enterprise resource planning, or ERP, systems do not generally provide effective solutions for processes handled outside of an organization’s general ledger, such as balance sheet account reconciliation, intercompany transaction accounting and the broader financial close process. Many organizations also use multiple ERPs and other financial systems without a platform to efficiently integrate them. As a result, to manage these tasks, organizations rely on spreadsheets and other error-prone and labor-intensive processes that are unsuited for the increasing regulatory complexity and transaction volumes encountered by many modern businesses. We believe that we are creating a new category of powerful cloud-based software that is capable of automating and streamlining accounting and finance operations, in a manner that complements and supports traditional ERP systems. We believe our customers benefit from cost savings through improvements in process management and staff productivity, in addition to managing a faster financial close.

Our mission is to transform how accounting and finance departments operate. Our approach modernizes what historically has been done through batch processing and manual controls typically applied only during the month, quarter or year-end financial close, and delivers dynamic workflows embedded within a real-time, highly automated framework, a process we refer to as “continuous accounting.” It also enables up-to-date analytics, provides industry-benchmarked metrics and is designed to help customers run more efficiently while achieving greater accuracy, control and transparency. We believe the need for our software has been driven by growing business and information technology complexities, transaction volumes and expanding regulatory requirements. Our software integrates with, and obtains data from, more than 30 different ERP systems, including NetSuite, Oracle, SAP, and Workday, as well as many other financial systems and applications such as bank accounts, sub-ledgers and in-house databases.

We believe that we have a leading position in the enhanced financial controls and automation market because we were one of the first companies to bring software with this functionality to market and we have a limited number of competitors. The 2017 Gartner Report, “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Corporate Performance Management Solutions,” or the “Gartner Report,” identified us as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Corporate Performance Management Solutions for our completeness of vision and ability to execute.

We are a holding company and conduct our operations through our wholly-owned subsidiary, BlackLine Systems, Inc. (“BlackLine Systems”). BlackLine Systems funded its business with investments from our founder and cash flows from operations until September 3, 2013, we acquired BlackLine Systems, and Silver Lake Sumeru and Iconiq acquired a controlling interest in us, which we refer to as the “2013 Acquisition” The 2013 Acquisition was accounted for as a business combination under GAAP, and resulted in a change in accounting basis as of the date of the 2013 Acquisition.

Our platform consists of eight core cloud-based products, including Transaction Matching, Account Reconciliations, Consolidation Integrity Manager, Daily Reconciliations, Journal Entry, Variance Analysis, Task Management, and Insights. Customers typically purchase these products in packages that we refer to as solutions, but they have the option to purchase these products individually. Current solutions include Balance Sheet Integrity, Close Process Management, Accounting Process Automation, Finance Transformation, Intercompany Hub, and Smart Close.

We sell our solutions primarily through our direct sales force, which leverages our relationships with technology vendors, professional services firms and business process outsourcers. In particular, we have a strategic relationship with SAP. Our solutions are SAP endorsed business solutions that integrate with SAP’s ERP solutions.

We target our sales and marketing efforts at both enterprise and mid-market businesses. We define the enterprise market as companies with greater than $500 million in annual revenue, and we define mid-market as companies with between $50 and $500 million in annual revenue. For the year ended December 31, 2017, sales to enterprise and mid-market customers represented 84% and 16% of our revenues, respectively. Additionally, we target our efforts at both new customers and existing customers. Existing customers may renew their subscriptions and broaden the deployment of our platform across their organizations by increasing the number of users accessing our platform or by adding additional products.

Accounting is a Universal Mission-Critical Function

Organizations need reliable financial information to plan and execute business initiatives, measure operational progress and satisfy regulatory and financial obligations. For each period-end, enterprise accounting functions typically record, process, reconcile, consolidate, and report financial transactions that are consolidated into useable financial information. These activities typically support other core business functions such as payroll, treasury, procure-to-pay, and order-to-cash processes. Traditionally, many accounting processes, such as balance sheet account reconciliation, intercompany transaction accounting and the broader financial close calendar, are managed and tracked with spreadsheets that are manually reconciled on a periodic basis, and which are often labor-intensive, inefficient and error-prone. The risks of employing traditional methods include lapses in regulatory compliance, damage to brand and public image, and negative impacts on financial health and transparency.

Modern Business is Increasingly Complex

Organizations of all sizes are operating in an increasingly global, complex and fast-moving business environment that presents significant challenges to the performance of the accounting and finance functions. Accountants must process and verify transactions that occur both within and across international borders, involve multiple currencies and require compliance with varying legal, regulatory and tax frameworks. This transactional complexity is exacerbated by other factors typical of global business, such as distance, language barriers and differing time zones. In addition, modern enterprises generate massive amounts of transaction data. It is common for organizations to have thousands of different accounts—potentially comprising billions of records—and to use numerous different financial and operational systems to store that data. Furthermore, companies employ increasingly sophisticated corporate structures that often require accountants to reconcile accounts across various business units and geographies. We believe that the complexity of modern corporate structures and transactions, combined with mounting transaction volumes and a fragmented information technology landscape, creates a significant need for increased automation, efficiency and visibility in accounting and finance.


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