In my post a couple of months ago revealing Sages poor attempt at SaaS, I said that one of the senior guys at Sage had said he’d been told not to talk to me as there were “issues between Sage and KashFlow”. I had no idea what he was talking about so didn’t give it much further thought.
Now it all becomes clear.
A week after my first post about Sage Live, Sage wrote to their local Trading Standards office in Newcastle to make a complaint about KashFlow. Their complaint is essentially that our pricing comparison page is unfair in that it compares our product to TAS Books 3. I’m not in the business of promoting competitors products. There are some great products out there that I’m never going to mention on our main website (you know who you are!) because I don’t want my potential customers to know about them. So we asked our customers what products they’d considered before buying KashFlow. TAS Books 3 and the other products listed on that page were the ones most often mentioned – so I think we’re fully justified in providing the comparison.
I’d had a bit of back and forth with a “Solicitor” at Sage ( I don’t see any point naming her, she’s just doing her job). She asked for a few changes. We implemented them because they were fair requests and politely and respectfully made. I told them I didn’t agree to removing TAS Books from the comparison table and she said they “reserved [their] right to take further action”
Regardless of whether our comparison is unfair or not – I think this is a really stupid move by Sage. I know from our logs that they’re regularly checking us out and I’ve had this confirmed informally by people at Sage. So surely they must have known I’d scream and shout about this to make sure as many people as possible knew about it.
Shortly before MYOB withdrew from the UK market, their top man in the UK emailed our support desk to threaten legal action. This resulted in a press release from us (come on, you know you’d have done the same!). It didn’t get much pick up because a lot of the publications that would normally carry that kind of story didn’t want to lose advertising revenue. But Sage would have seen it and seen how we responded to it. By taking the approach they have, they are reinforcing the general view of them amongst SMEs as bullies. And of course it’s in my interest to promote this view of them. The recent thread on UKBF is not the kind of thing I’d want to see if I was in charge of PR at Sage. AccManPro, the best read UK SaaS accounting blog, has also picked up on it.
Whilst talking about Sage (again!) – It’s been recently reported that I’ve had offers of >£10m to sell KashFlow. This led on to quite a few people getting in touch to ask if I’d been talking to Sage about selling up. I just want to make it clear – to avoid any doubt and quell any rumours – that I am not and never have been in dialogue with Sage about the possibility of them buying KashFlow.
I’m quite happy to sit back and watch them self-destruct over the whole SaaS revolution. They’ve made their own in-house play, and it’s appalling. For anyone that thinks that’s just a biased view – try it yourself now at www.sagelive.co.uk. Or if you don’t have 20 minutes to spare to set it all up, look at the comments on my blog about it. Ben Kepes, independent blogger on all things cloud, describes it as “pretty horrendous”.
By taking this stance against us they’re telling the world they’re worried about SaaS. The way they’ve gone about it shows they’re clueless about the power the web gives to the little guy.
A bit of free advice for you Mr Walker: Less solicitors, more web developers.