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MICROSOFT LAUNCHES SBA Microsoft is scheduled to launch its Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 this month, after a highly publicized build up to the new low-cost product. The product has had its own Web page for most of the summer.

SBA is Microsoft's first retail-level accounting product since it sold Profit to the former Great Plains, which had developed the package, several years ago. Payroll services for SBA are being provided by ADP. The company also plans to begin enrolling accounting firms in its Professional Accountants Network to support clients that use SBA.

CYMA STARTS REFERRAL PROGRAM

Partner Insights

Cyma Systems has launched the Cyma Referral Partner Program to enable those who refer leads to Cyma to receive 10 percent of the completed sale.

Cyma, based in Tempe, Ariz., requires a completed referral partner application for any organization or individual that wishes to participate. Executive vice president Steve Brueckner says that CPAs and office equipment sales people are among the professionals that Cyma believes will participate. Referrals can earn more than $1,000 on a typical sale.

PLANTE MORAN NAMES PARTNERS

Plante Moran has named two technologists as partners, out of a total of 14 new partners recently named at the Southfield, Mich.-based CPA firm.

Among those made partner were Al Voss, based in Chicago, who is a member of the firm's Technology Solutions Group, and who installs and implements Microsoft accounting software. Also selected was Raj Patel, FCCA, CISM, CISA, who is based in Southfield. A member of the Technology Consulting Group, Patel provides IT security and control services that include SAS 70/SysTrust reviews, IT risk assessment, business continuity planning.

ALTARA HIRES SALES MANAGER

Altara, a Microsoft reseller based in Basking Ridge, N.J., has hired Trevor O'Brien as general manager of sales. He will be responsible for managing the company's sales effort nationally.

The company has also expanded its professional services team with the addition of six new employees, including two senior project managers, Manny Guterres of El Paso, Texas, and Glenn Anstead of Potomac, Wash.

RGB CO. PICKS IT AUDIT MANAGER

Rubin, Brown, Gornstein, a St. Louis-based CPA firm, has hired Gregory Smith, CPA, as a manager in its internal audit group.

Smith, who has more than 20 years of experience in finance and information technology, is responsible for the growth and the development of the firm's IT audit practice.

BLOCK BUYS AMEX TBS

H&R Block has acquired American Express Tax and Business Services, the pioneering consolidator in the CPA market.

Block is paying $220 million for a group that generated $385 million in its last fiscal year. The American Express unit has been an important ally for SAP, marketing special editions of SAP's Business One software. TBS will become part of Block's RSM McGladrey Business Services, which will now employ 1,000 and have more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

TAYLOR JOINS SCRIBE

Dan Taylor, a former reseller who tried to turn his business into a hosting operation, has joined the board of directors of Scribe Software.

Taylor was the head of the Taylor Group, a Great Plains reseller, when he transformed it into ManagedOps.com. The latter company built a large hosting facility at its headquarters in Bedford, N.H.. However, the demand for those services did not materialize and ManagedOps was acquired by Surebridge early in 2003.

TECTURA RAISES $5 MILLION

Tectura, which has received more than $65 million in equity investments, has secured another $5 million from Pequot Ventures, which had previously invested in the Tempe, Ariz.-based reseller.

Tectura says the capital will fund it continued expansion. Its latest acquisition was the Hong Kong-based Enterprise Solutions Group, which took it into markets through out the Far East. The company says it now has 1,300 employees and offices in 63 cities.

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