Intacct's New CEO Focuses on Funding

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Intacct's future lies in Michael Braun's connections. The CEO took the reins at the Web-based financial management systems vendor in February, replacing Robert Jurkowski, who took over for founding CEO David Thomas in August 2004.

While "angst" is the feeling many employees experience when leadership changes occur, Braun says his staff is optimistic, and he's confident that he can continue to grow the San Jose, Calif.-based company's war chest, which surpassed $50 million in its second round of funding last May and includes contributions by Emergence Capital Partners, Deloitte and JK&B Capital, among others.

Braun plans to bring more venture capitalists on board and increase direct and indirect sales by expanding a channel program that currently includes about 100 accounting outsourcers and a handful of other resellers.

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He also wants to focus on converting QuickBooks customers; attracting clients interested in Salesforce integration; and aggressively growing his staff, which he would only say sits at "under 100" employees but had been reduced to about 55 after a 21-person layoff in 2002.

How has your experience starting The Interim CEO Network (a California recruiting company that places CEOs) helped prepare you for this position?

It's expanded my network dramatically. The clients are all venture capitalists. That tends to be helpful to small companies.

Both of your predecessors left to "pursue other interests." Do you feel your relationships with venture capitalists will help you stand out from them and be around for the long term?

Yes. I have a set of skills, background and relationships that are very appropriate for this business. Employees have responded extremely well, morale is extremely high. I have great confidence. Companies make leadership changes periodically. I'm the third CEO in seven years. In the scheme of things, it's not a lot. It's not like we've been changing management here. We've had the same head of product development, the same head of operations that we've had for seven years. Employees usually know a change is necessary before the board does. That's the case here. It's been a good change, it was a needed change and the company is invigorated.

You last reported a $7 million round of funding last May. What are your future funding goals?

We have raised additional financing and we're continuing to build a war chest. Our goal is to build a very large independent company. Every time there's a platform shift, the companies that are the winners tend to be larger than their predecessors. Oracle and SAP have been the winners in the client-server world. In the on-demand world, it will be Salesforce, Intacct and maybe somebody else.

What are some other strategic changes or overall goals?

We're focusing heavily on a sweet spot of opportunity, especially in professional services, software and multi-entity businesses, as well as QuickBooks upgrades and Salesforce integration over the next year.

Another strength is our customer support. By (June) we'll be paying every employee in the company based on customer satisfaction and we'll be announcing programs aimed at delivering the best customer experience.

In the long term, our two biggest challenges are distribution and awareness. The VAR distribution channel is crucial to getting into those nooks and crannies. We're looking to expand channel efforts (with) firms that can expand our footprint in those service-oriented sectors as an initial thrust.

Intacct did not have a direct sales channel until 2005. What caused that change and what are your plans for the overall distribution program?

For on-demand companies, the direct model has proven to be the most successful model to date, but I believe that's changing. Traditional resellers saw a risk for their business with no demand for software. Intacct did not grow as fast as other on-demand vendors did that went direct, so Intacct responded by starting a direct channel. The accounting outsourcing channel has been a stable part of our revenue stream. We're growing the whole distribution channel, including indirect and direct sales."

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