AccountMate has been around along time. But in the last three years, it has been acquired and then spun out on its own, and it's trying to make its way as a small company in an accounting software market dominated by giants.

The giants, of course, are Microsoft Business Solutions and Best Software, which briefly owned Novato, Calif.-based AccountMate after it had been acquired by Softline.

Best decided AccountMate's approach to the market didn't fit its own, and sold it to a management team that is trying to make a go of being a small source-code vendor at a time when the fundamental nature of the market is changing.

One key message from AccountMate is that it is small. Resellers, it says, can still easily reach top executives. The company has the ability to quickly react to requests for changes in product features. It's not out of line to say that that is no longer true with either MBS or Best.

In fact, one MAS 90 reseller recently noted that he and others are feeling very lost at times. People they have known for years, like Dave Butler, who ran the MAS 90 channel for much of eight years, have departed. The relationships that were carefully built and nourished have been severed. New people are in charge at both Best and MBS. There are new layers and new ways of doings.

This is not to say that AccountMate is suddenly going to become a powerful player. It is to say that AccountMate has an opening to attract qualified business partners that like a different kind of feel and relationship with the vendor that provides their primary product lines.

Being small still has its disadvantages. A company the size of AccountMate doesn't have the resources of its big competitors. It cannot afford to make a mistake, while MBS can afford to lose millions upon millions of dollars. It does not have the name recognition.

But AccountMate, and other smaller vendors that still compete, do have the opportunity to succeed if they are smart in identifying markets where they won't get squashed by Best or MBS if they execute with few mistakes.

Small can be beautiful.

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