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Concur Technologies: CEO cites turning points

Looking over the 11 years that he has led Concur Technologies, Steve Singh identifies three key turning points for the company.

The first was the move, starting in 2000, away from the traditional model of selling Concur's corporate-expense-reporting software on discs toward selling it as a subscription service over the Internet.

Founded: 1994

Headquarters: Redmond

Stock symbol: CNQR

Market: Nasdaq

Operations: Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New York, Missouri, Australia, U.K.

CEO: Steve Singh

Employees: 600

Major products/services: Software for reporting corporate expenses and booking business travel

What sets it apart: Concur sells most of its software as a subscription service, allowing companies to outsource much of their expense-management and corporate-travel work.

At the time, Concur had a nice $34 million-a-year business selling its expense-management software mainly to big companies such as Exxon Mobil and DuPont, and then helping them use and maintain it. But the software was expensive, which limited its appeal.

"If you want to grow your business, you have to be able to address more than the [Forbes] Global 2000 companies," Singh said. "But the only way we could make it affordable [for smaller companies] to shift to Concur from a paper model was going on demand."

The move paid off. By 2005, Concur's sales had grown to nearly $72 million, most of them coming from subscription fees.

The second turning point came last year, when Concur bought a business-travel software company called OutTask. The plan is to integrate OutTask's product, called Cliqbook (think of it as an Expedia for corporate travel), with Concur's expense-reporting program.

"What we say is, the click that books the trip should be the same click that reports the trip," Singh said.

In the past year, 300 of Concur's customers have signed up for the combination package. In the second half of this year, the company plans to introduce a new version that effectively merges the expense-reporting and travel-booking programs.

And the third turning point? Singh's keeping that one to himself for now, except to say that it will happen in the next couple of years.

"With any luck," he said, "it will help us remain on the Top 5 list for years to come."