In a move that will cause some big ripples in the cloud accounting ecosystems, US giant Intuit agreed a $340m bid to acquire one of its leading third party software partners, timesheet app developer TSheets.
Once the bid completes the regulatory formalities – expected by the end of January – TSheets will be rebranded as Intuit Time Capture and become a part of Chriss’s business group. The TSheets HQ in Eagle, Idaho, will become an Intuit office with TSheets CEO Matt Rissell reporting in to the Intuit small business hierarchy.
The celebratory Champagne flowed earlier today in Toronto at a Canadian QB Connect event. It might have been the fizz, but most of the participants were looking happy in a series of congratulatory tweets.
With more than 12,000 customers already using TSheets alongside QuickBooks, the timesheet app was already one of the most popular companions for Intuit’s products. As a result of today’s deal, “They will have a single, seamless solution to track their time, streamline their invoicing and simplify paying their workers with complete confidence,” Intuit said in its official announcement.
Taking other accounting platforms into account, TSheets boasts more than 35,000 customers worldwide and a total of 500,000+ individual users.
Ironically, much of the talk in cloud accounting circles these days revolves around value and fixed fee services where timesheets are less critical to billing. But according to Alex Chriss, chief product and platform officer for Intuit’s small business and self employed group, the acquisition is more about catering for small business needs.
“With TSheets as part of Intuit, we have a tremendous opportunity to provide millions of small businesses and self-employed a smarter, simplified way to quickly and accurately track their time, send invoices, run payroll, and understand profitability by project,” he said.
As well as its massive base of QuickBooks Online and desktop users, TSheets is also counts Sage 50 and Xero among its software partners, achieving a 5-star rating from 123 users mainly in the US and Australia on Xero’s app marketplace.
AccountingWEB’s Software Excellence Awards survey picked up a smattering of UK TSheets users, who were slightly less effusive and rated it at just under four stars out of five.
The UK perspective
Heminway Bailey was one of the company's first UK customers. Parnter Alan Hemingway told AccountingWEB he had been watching Intuit and TSheets slowly come together on the software integration side and concluded the acquisition is a “good move” by Intuit.
“They are both very innovative software providers and they both share very similar values and is certainly a good fit as regards software and company culture, Both TSheets and Intuit are huge in the US where it will impact more businesses but UK users will also see improved functionality,” said Hemingway.
The news follows a software tie-up between Karbon and TSheets that is helping to improve the information flow at Hemingway Bailey and providing an alternative to traditional time recording tools.
“I suspect we will be seeing other vertical integrations over coming months as the large accounting software platforms acquire app partners who will fit in neatly with their core product,” he added.
Intuit already has form when it comes to acquiring ecosystem partners. Last year, it bought UK bankfeed specialist Bankstream and absorbed it into the small business accounting product. But the TSheets deal is on a different scale – imagine the reactions if Xero announced it was buying Receipt Bank.
The two parties are obviously delighted, but have defied one of the unwritten rules of independent software development, where it doesn’t serve the dominant partner well to favour one product too obviously over others.
Not only will the deal create friction with other timesheet app developers who support QuickBooks, questions are already being asked about the depth of TSheets’ commitment to other platforms such as Xero and Sage.
In his blog, TSheets founder Matt Rissell responded, “TSheets will remain an open platform by maintaining and building partnerships with other best-of-breed solutions.”
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.