SAGE AIMS FOR SMALL BUSINESS.
Sounding like a combination of Intuit and Bill.com, Sage North America has architected a new program designed to reach very small businesses, including those with zero employees. The new platform, SageSpark.com, which offers services such as online IT helpdesk, marketing business benchmarking and recruitment services, has been launched in tandem with BillingBoss, an online invoicing service. Sage described the products as being for early-stage small businesses. I describe them as for companies for whom QuickBooks is too much horsepower. This takes Sage into a new market with a new distribution and marketing strategy. It will market the services primarily through about 200 social networking sites, according to Rob King, VP of strategic marketing. Normally, recessions spark new-business formation as people cast off from corporate America start their own organizations. However, earlier this year, Intuit CEO Brad Smith told a financial conference that he expects this will happen but that formation will be delayed because of the inability of entrepreneurs to get loans and because their credit cards are maxed out.


KENT LEAVING EXACT.
Jim Kent, who was once one of Macola’s top resellers, is leaving his position as vice president of Exact Software. And looking at the bonuses distribution cited in Exact Software’s annual report, it looks like there was a message that it was time to seek new opportunities. Kent’s 2008 salary was $350,000, down 6 percent, and perhaps there was an adjustment for the decline in the dollar. But his bonus was $85,000, down by 47 percent, and I don’t think the dollar dropped that much. Kent joined Exact when it purchased his reselling operation, the former Kent Group, based in Andover, Mass. Meanwhile, the salary of CEO Raj Patel rose by 32 percent and his bonus was up 4.8 percent. Exact also said all three members of its supervisory board, appointed in 2005 for four-year terms, have decided not to seek reappointment at next week’s annual meeting. It looks like Patel, who took over as CEO in 2007, has generally cleaned house with the North American management, including Kent, who was named to the board of managing directors for a four-year term in 2005.


SAGE OFFERS U.K. BUYOUT.
Mum is the word at Newcastle Great Park, Gosforth, the British headquarters of the Sage Group. An April 10 article by Paul James in the Journal Online which covers the Newcastle area, said the company offered buy outs to 2,200 U.K. workers, 1,600 of whom operate at HQ. Many typical administrative and back-office jobs are involved. As reported in the article the letter was “offering Sage people the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy that’s incentivised as a way to minimise the risk of future compulsory redundancies.” The deadline is April 17. Since management was going to consult with workers’ representatives, it would seem likely more information will leak out. There’s no official word on the Sage press Web site and no indication this applies to the United States. A spokesperson for Sage North America said it was a purely British issue.


DELTEK REVS SLIDE.
Deltek warned that its revenue for the first quarter ended March 31 will drop to about $62 million, compared to prior guidance of $67 million to $69 million for the quarter and year earlier revenue of $69.4 million. License revenue is expected to hit $11 million, as opposed to guidance of $14 million to $15 million and license revenue in last year’s first quarter of $17 million and $19.8 million in the same quarter for 2007. Earnings are expected to drop to between five and six cents per share as opposed to nine cents a year ago and 12 cents two years earlier. The company said its architectural and engineering customers continued to be hit by the economy while its sales to government contractors held steady.


EPICOR NAMES CFO.
Epicor reached into its executive ranks, naming Michael Pietrini, who had been SVP of sales and operations for the Americas, as CFO and EVP of finance and administration. Russell Clark, who served as interim CFO, continues as SVP, finance and principal accounting officer. Pietrini succeeds former president, CEO and CFO, Thomas Kelly, who left in January. Meanwhile, the company named Jim Bork as SVP of worldwide sales. Bork was most recently SVP of international sales for Epicor.


IBERIAN TRAVEL FOLLIES.
No, they don’t all speak English and it was useful to speak Spanish to the Iberia air rep after our flight left JFK an hour late and we missed our connection to Seville. Then there were the TomTom GPS systems, which wouldn’t charge through the plug in to the cigarette light, and we kept circling back to the Avis counter to return them, ultimately demanding and getting a new rental. Finally, with parking at a premium, we parked our second car at a 24-hour garage adjacent to El Corte Ingles, a major department store, and walked 20 minutes to our hotel on Wednesday evening. When we took a cab back on Thursday, along with our luggage, we found the garage and the store shut—until Saturday it turned out. I walked four blocks back the train station, gave Avis our key, found there were no more cars and the Hertz counter was closed. Fortunately, Europecar had vehicles so I returned to my wife and daughter, who were sitting glumly on the street with our luggage, with our third car. By the way, the Spanish apparently don’t put “we’ll be closed Thursday and Friday” on the outside of their stores—or garages.


MICROSOFT DUCKS REVIEW.
Microsoft has declined to participate in our June review of low-end accounting software packages with its Office Accounting. It has been very, very quiet on the OA front over the last year and the people running the program certainly haven’t reached out to us for some time to talk about what’s happening with that or the Professional Accounting Network.


EXACT: U.S. AN INSTALLED-BASE SALE.
Exact Software’s annual report for 2008 categorizes its business in the United States as largely one of serving existing companies. Last year, organic growth for the Americas region, which includes the U.S. fell 3.2 percent, and shrank as a percentage of overall Exact 2008 revenue. The annual report characterized prospects in this country as offering “little exposure from new business opportunities.” Maybe this is why most Exact resellers I spoke to while collecting information for the VAR 100 are evaluating other products. You have to wonder about Exact’s attitude about business in this country, at least towards its VARs. After the last issue pointed out that no information had been released about the March Engage user conference, there was new data posted on the Exact Engage Web site. But nothing has been said about the presumed success of the conference on the Exact Software parent or Exact America sites. And even though someone from the company’s PR firm called to say there was a press release, they must have meant announcing the conference because there has been no followup PR.


NETSUITE’S NELSON CASHES IN.
NetSuite’s CEO Zach Nelson sold $1.15 million of his company’s stock in the sale of three lots in March. He acquired the shares at a cost of roughly $190,000, through the exercise of options at prices as low as $1.50 per share. Not your usual automatic sales triggered by the reporting cycle.

TREY OPERATIONS IMPROVE, BUT…
Trey Resources, whose sales come from its Livingston, N.J.-based SWK reselling business, saw its loss for 2008 fall to $1.59 million, down from $1.61 million for 2007. Its revenue rose to $7.7 million, up 4.6 percent from $7.4 million a year ago. While its operating loss fell sharply to $557.693 for the year ended Dec. 31 from just over $1 million in the prior year, its bottom line continued to be hurt by other income and expenses. This time, it lost $640,829 on the revaluation of derivatives while it saw a $925,212 gain in the same category in 2007. The company raised the salary of president and CEO Mark Meller to $271,225 for the year just ended, up from $246,568, but $140,508 was accrued and unpaid in fiscal 2008, as opposed to $94,694 accrued and unpaid for 2007. Similarly, the salary for Jerome Mahoney, the non-executive chairman of the board, was raised to $289,892 from $263,538. In like fashion $160,176 was accrued and unpaid in 2008 and $111,664 got the same treatment the prior year. Trey always gives me the feeling I’m doing an exercise for the financial analysis classes I took at New York University’s adult education school. There are categories you don’t see in many companies such as a capital structure with three classes of common stock and preferred stock (none issued).


IBIS JUMPS ON AX WAGON.
Ibis, a Norcross, Ga.-based Microsoft Dynamics reseller, has gotten into the Dynamics AX market through the purchase of McaConnect Southeast, which is based in Mathews, N.C. The acquired company’s former CEO John Koontz is serving as general manager of the Ibis AX practice. Ibis, which had $12.4 million in revenue for 2008, also carries Dynamics GP and NAV.


SAGE HIRING FOR HEALTHCARE.
Sage is showing commitment to its troubled healthcare division by continuing to up hire. Healthcare has lost a lot of money and had a lot of heads replaced, including much of the sales force and top execs as Sage said it believes the business has a bright future in the United States. There were seven postings for the healthcare group yesterday on Monster.com, including an opening for VP of marketing and a business unit manager.


ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL NETWORKING PART II
After declining a request from Sprinkles the Cat to follow Accounting Technology on Twitter, I realized that finding out how social media works is a constant process. There was also the guy calling himself the Mother Teresa of Twitter, which I guess means he electronically follows the poor and lepers. Outside of requests from non-sentient beings, another annoyance is what is happening in the “Suggestions” on Facebook. These are rapidly being populated with “Become a Fan” requests instead of “Add as a Friend” pleas. So now instead of friends and colleagues appearing, I am being fanned by Grimaldi’s, Tiseme, Terry Hoage Vineyards, Toms Shoes and Austin, Texas. I have nothing against these people, but this is on the verge of automating spam. Now, there are other ways to add friends, but simply going down “Suggestions” and following their list of possible friends is pretty painless for finding those whose names may have slipped your minds. Any day now, I expect to see nothing but Fan requests in that preview pain and we will all realize that we are merely six degrees separated from Manny, Moe and Jack at the Pep Boys. It’s so bad that when I looked at “People You May Know” on Linkedin my own picture was there. I’m six degrees of separation from myself.


TEMPLETON NABS VP
Templeton Consulting, a Miami-based CPA and consulting firm, has named Rick Stow as VP of consulting services. He was previously SVP of operations and COO for Velocity Technology Solutions, a Lawson Software implementation and hosting partner. He will be headquartered in the firm’s New York City office. Templeton, which has around $6 million a year in annual revenue, seems to be ramping up its technology operations. In March, the company named Edna Torres as VP of process and technology solutions.


EMERGING USES OF TWITTER.
Randy Johnston, whose perception of the market are usually ahead of the game, reports the use of Tweets for companies that have set up a plan for disaster recovery. It’s a good way of getting out quick bursts of information about where to go and what to do, according to Johnston, a partner with the ubiquitous K2 Enterprises consulting group. I had, perhaps unrealistically, envisioned Twitter as a cheap system of route management. When you have those organizations like the cable or furnace repair companies whose exact arrival time at your dwelling is fluid, perhaps their remote devices, equipped with a GPS system, could send a message to Twitter showing their location and updated arrival time. Of course if you have cable TV, Internet and phone on the same provider, you’re dead. I was thinking Twitter could also be used to arrange drug deals and provide escort-service information, so I suspect law enforcement will have to be monitoring social networking sites as well.


INTUIT A SLIGHT CORRECTION.
The last newsletter overstated the consolidated of Intuit’s channel program under BJ Schaknowski, director of the partner channel. He has the Intuit Solution Provider program (the QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions resellers), and Retail Solution Provider and the QuickBase Consultant programs. However, the regular ProAdvisor program is not included.


RANDOM THOUGHTS.
At one breakfast in Seville, my wife went over to a man in our hotel. She said something and then he hugged her. When I joined he shook my hand and she said, “This is Yo-Yo Ma. He was a tutor at our house in Harvard.” Hey, my college roommate once played kazoo in our jug band. … In Seville, we saw a fire extinguisher brand we had seen before in Madrid, called UNIX. There used to a Windows-brand extinguisher, but it tended to stop working during fires and had to be rebooted. … The singers at El Arsenal, a Flamenco restaurant near the Bull Ring, sounded like auditions were limited to three-pack-a-day smokers. One old guy (well, my age), sang with a very open mouth. I couldn’t help but notice he was missing many of the same teeth as me. A female dancer had a foot action so fast that if she moved into a New York apartment, she’d rid it of cockroaches in less than 20 minutes. … …. Wanted to see the updated opera, “The Hair Stylist of Seville,” in which Mr. Figaro tries to save the heroine, “Rosina,” from a hair-do that was oh-so last week. There’s another updated opus, Karm-N, in which animal rights activists throw paint on Escamillo during his famous aria, “The Toreador Song.” … We spent an hour trying to get past the crowds to reach a restaurant in what is normally a ten-minute walk. It was like the characters in the Blair Witch Project trying to get out of the woods.

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