FreeAgent at the crossroads

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FreeAgent Central founder Ed Molyneux tells John Stokdyk how Cloud computing is beginning to change the nature of accountancy services for the freelance and contractor community.

In an interview with, FreeAgent central founder Ed Molyneux wrestles publicly with the dilemma his online accounting service faces in 2009 - whether to chase new investment and an ambitious growth strategy, or to stay focused on the product and perhaps let other, better funded operations gain market share.

Molyneux admits to considering the venture capital option, but says: "We're not throwing ourselves at it. If you don't need their money, they're really keen to give it. But when you do...

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21st Apr 2009 09:16

Agreed - I've used FreeAgent Central for the last 14 months for my own business, and it's delivered just what I needed - doing the basics well, and then adding elements that take away much faffing about with Excel that too many small traders find themselves doing in the evenings.

Having a continuous running balance of my impending VAT and CorpTax liabilities (along with a diary of when they are due) means I never have any nasty suprises.

Those that know me will know that 'Paperless office' is always uppermost in my mind, and FreeAgent lets me store scanned images of things like expense receipts against the transactions - no more envelopes full of scrappy bits of paper! I just supplied my accountant with all year-end materials entirely paperlessly, giving them a logon to my system so they could directly view anything they needed.

Ed and the team have always been incredibly responsive to my questions and queries, and I always look forward to their regular product updates. (How many people can say THAT about traditional software suppliers!).

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19th Apr 2009 12:23

hold the front page - I agree with jc
It's very unusual for me to agree with jc on this site, but I completely agree with him here. John... I think your making excuses when you say you decided "to move quickly to get the site up and running, so we took a very basic design template and put it out on the Net ". Sift are in the technology business, building web communities for people. BusinessCloud9 has been around for many months now. Is your technology so complicated that it's a huge project to sort out a proper user interface. AcoountingWEB isn't perfect, but it's very easy to find your way around, whereas BusinessCloud9 is more basic than the average Wordpress blog that someone could put together in a few days (or maybe hours). It has HUGE potential, and I hope you succeed with it, but it needs some serious attention,

By the way, I think Ed and his team are doing a great job. They focus on very good usability and giving their customers what they want. If they stick to that , they'll succeed whichever route they take.

David Terrar
D2C and Business Two Zero and WordFrame

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15th Apr 2009 11:16

Thanks for your feedback, JC
In the spirit of Cloud computing, we wanted to move quickly to get the site up and running, so we took a very basic design template and put it out on the Net - much like a beta release of a new Cloud application.

Now that we are inputting content we are becoming aware of some of the shortcomings of our initial approach and are definitely listening to user feedback about the new site.

For the moment, if you want to review industry news quickly and conveniently, try visiting the News and Analysis page, which will give short summaries of recently posted articles. From the home page, you can also try navigating by using some of the tags listed at the top of the home page.

Incidentally, is based on a different platform (Drupal) to our other Sift Media communities, but over the next few months this will change as sites including will make the transition.

There are likely to be a lot of functional changes, but be assured that we will work not only to preserve the sites' community ethos, but to extend it. Any suggestions and pointers you provide on all our sites are taken on board and will influence how we roll out our next generation of online communities.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor (and

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By Anonymous
15th Apr 2009 10:03

Cloud9 information layout ...
OK - maybe I am missing something but looking at the Cloud9 site home page how is the user aware of this article?

With this site Aweb it is a simple matter to see the latest information - unfortunately this does not seem to be the case with Cloud9

Could someone please sort the Cloud9 site out so that has sensible indexing - substitute a 'Latest News' column instead of the obligatory NetSuite & SalesForce advertorials

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