Quicken, the personal finance software that began the Intuit financial software empire, is to be sold. Intuit owns popular financial software like Quickbooks, Lacerte, and Mint.com.
Programmed in a small apartment in Palo Alto, California using MS-DOS in 1983, the program took advantage of the personal computer revolution and within just a few years owned the personal financial software market. The product made so much money it attracted the attention of Microsoft, which launched a competing product called Microsoft Money in 1991.
In the intervening years Intuit beat Microsoft, and everyone else. Quicken worked and it was easy to use. And as long as there wasn't a disruptive change in the market, Quicken would continue to dominate.
Disruptive change arrived with broadband Internet connections and cloud software. Suddenly the desktop model of shrink-wrapped software with annual updates shriveled. Intuit moved slowly, too slowly. They purchased competitor Mint.com, but it the product was free to its subscribers.
On a conference call with Wall Street analysts, CEO Brad Smith said Intuit would focus on its small business and tax software, represented by QuickBooks and TurboTax, respectively -- both have strong cloud- and subscription-based businesses. Marketing software Demandforce and database software QuickBase is also to be divested along with Quicken.
The three software products accounted for less than 6% of the firm's fiscal 2015 revenue, and just 2% of its net income during the same period. For the last 12 months, Quicken contributed just $51 million to the company's total revenue of nearly $4.2 billion.
In many ways, Quicken is software that users love to hate. With years of data in the company's proprietary format -- and few alternatives -- they not only feel trapped but also regularly rail about the product. Quicken's listing on ConsumerAffairs.com, the consumer advocacy organization's website, makes for dismal reading: The overall satisfaction rating is one star out of a possible five.
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