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TSheets founder Matt Rissell at QB Connect 2015
Matt Rissell 2015_AccountingWEB

TSheets saga ends in Rissell shooting tragedy

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The international accounting software community was shocked over the weekend by reports that TSheets founder Matt Rissell had shot a woman and killed himself.

11th May 2023
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TSheets founder Matt Rissell, 46, was found dead at his home in Boisie, Idaho on Thursday 4 May, having shot a woman and then turned the gun on himself, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the other victim was Rissell’s wife, Robin.

Reactions to Rissell’s death have circulated across the net in the days since. A charismatic, controversial character, Rissell founded TSheets with programmer Brandon Zehm in 2006. As the owner of three Cartridge World franchise stores, legend has it that Rissell started TSheets after discovering a trusted employee padding her timesheet.

Tracking time

The app took off and became the most popular time-tracking app for the emerging QuickBooks Online cloud accounting platform. As the company thrived and grew, Rissell became a T-shirts-wearing Dwayne Johnson look alike, cutting a swathe through trade shows with a big marketing entourage and bankrolling the biggest, brashest parties.

Riding a 10-year growth curve, Rissell sold TSheets to Intuit in 2017 for $340m, telling reporters and customers the deal would help TSheets grow even more rapidly. He stayed on with Intuit as a vice president for two years and continued to write about his experiences and insights as a tech entrepreneur for Forbes and other media outlets. 

In one post, he wrote about sparring “in the octagon” with an Ultimate Fighting Championship cage fighter and likened the experience to being CEO of a tech startup.

“I’m far from your typical CEO,” said his Forbes bio. “I don’t have an Ivy League diploma, but I do have a history of successfully breaking rules. I’m passionate about taking an innovative approach to leadership and sharing my story of determination and perseverance. More than anything, I love helping small businesses win – especially the underdogs.”

Fierce competition

The Rissell managerial style is evident from an old From Matt’s Desk blog he posted in 2016: “The competition within the office is fierce. There’s a lot of smack talk, a lot of strategizing, but most importantly, a lot of camaraderie. And if you think our work suffers because of it, think again… In short, we worked really hard, and we played really hard. And we saw amazing results.”

One of the most insightful reflections on the tragedy surrounding Rissell and his family came in a post on LinkedIn by Dan Jordan, an ex-colleague from the Cartridge World days. “He was young, tall, pudgy, and prematurely balding, sporting a wispy comb-over. He always wore slacks and a button-down shirt, both pressed, and loafers. Far from the figure you probably knew,” Jordan wrote.

After being convinced to take on a second job as Rissell’s production manager, Jordan describes a driven, sales-obsessed and insensitive boss who was willing to do whatever it took to win. It was not a happy experience for the employee.

Whatever the circumstances of his death, TSheets remains Rissell’s legacy to the accounting world. Still the market-leading cloud timesheet app, it is now known as QuickBooks Time after being absorbed into the broader product portfolio.

“Horrible, horrible nightmare” 

On the Cloud Accounting Podcast, former Intuit ecosystem app evangelist David Leary said the “horrible, horrible nightmare” affected the whole accounting and bookkeeping community. “Thousands of people have been impacted by this because everybody has their Matt and TSheets stories. You could not write the history of cloud accounting without a chapter on Matt and TSheets. That’s why it’s important to pause and acknowledge the ripple effect Matt and TSheets had on this entire industry,” he said.

“All these apps you see [at trade shows] are just copying what Matt and TSheets did in the United States.”

For anyone affected by the issues raised in this article, there is a list of resources for those seeking support for themselves or anyone they are concerned about at Mind.org.uk and also for those at risk of or concerned about domestic abuse at Citizensadvice.org.uk in the UK. 

This article was updated on 12 May to add support resources for readers worried or affected by the issues raised.

Replies (4)

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Wayne Schmidt
By WayneSchmidt
12th May 2023 16:27

John, this is relatively easy to write; his role in the industry plays no part in this story. Domestic violence must be called out, not whitewashed. Unless more men call out other men, everything stays the same.

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By Rhondalynn Korolak
14th May 2023 00:05

I am beyond speechless John. Perhaps you have forgotten that Matt Rissell attempted to murder his wife and the mother of his children?

Someone once said - "bad things happen when good people choose to walk past and say nothing."

Whilst I can appreciate that media outlets want to capitalize on the currency and engagement surrounding an international news story... clicks are far less important than change.

Domestic violence is a serious issue. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

What Matt has done or built in our industry is FAR LESS significant than the violent, illegal, and heartless way that he attempted to take his wife out of this world. It is HER and her children than should be the focus of our attention as a collective community.

As someone who is a survivor (my mother was murdered in a DV incident 31 years ago), I can tell you that someone who is capable of killing a family member is not a nice person in every other area of their lives. A killer cares only for themselves and they carry that sense of entitlement and narcissism into every aspect of their lives, including work. They may be nice when it suits them, but mark my words, by and large they are not good people.

I am astounded at how tone deaf this article is and I am ashamed at how the focus of our profession and industry has been mis-directed at recounting Matt's achievements instead of focusing on how we can be a voice of change... to make it safer for women and children (or anyone who is abused) in our society. Our voices and focus should be on change, not how many clicks we can squeeze out of a very tragic story.

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By Kathleen Jordan6886
15th May 2023 06:08

It is safe to take Dan Jordan's comments with a grain of salt. I was once married to Dan, and I also knew Matt and Robin. Dan was rarely happy in his work environment
His most used complaint included that it was someone else's fault. Matt did have a strong personality and was driven to succeed. His success with Tsheets is proof. Personally, I know former employees who felt very differently about their work experiences with Matt.

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By Finley000
07th Oct 2023 10:15

I signed up for an account just so I could comment on this article. I go to school with his youngest kid. He is one of the kindest funniest most outgoing polite etc.etc. Kid I think I’ve ever met. Before and after this happened. The morning after it happened our school had a mini assembly where they explained what happened because they didn’t want it to be a rumor they want people to straight up know what happened. We did almost zero work that day. We write him card colored photos etc. we we’re free to go out in the haul w the therapy dog. All the teachers had their door opened playing worship music. And we were all just handled laying on eachother holding hands etc. crying. Praying. Just hoping that this pure innocent humble amazing kid was ok. And just being absolutely heartbroken over what had happened. Imagine being 13 years old, it’s a regular early (Thursday I believe) morning and you’ve waken up to your mom with gun wounds being wheeled into and ambulance and your father dead. The impact that will have on life is gonna be crazy. His birthday was just two days ago, his first one without his dad and I put up some decorations bought him snacks etc. and I’m looking at him ready to apologize for how crappy it is and he has the hugest smile one his face ever and was so appreciative. For a drink bubblegum skittles and some crappy wrapping paper on his locker. I live that kid so much. He deserves the world.

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