MYOB takes battle to Xero, Intuit

MYOB takes battle to Xero, Intuit

Summary: Accounting software has suddenly become fascinating as a turf war erupts between platform rivals.


The global small business accounting wars between US giant Intuit, Australian incumbent MYOB and New Zealand challenger Xero are heating up.

MYOB today responded to threats to its business with a data conversion service and free offer - and took a few swipes at Xero in the process.

MYOB has launched the service through its partners to help and entice customers of rivals to convert to its AccountRight Live service.

MYOB said the offer comes in response to increasing demand for its cloud accounting solutions. It is sugaring the deal by offering six months’ free access to AccountRight Live for those who make the switch via the service before 31 December.

But Xero founder Rod Drury describes the offer as a "death rattle" from a company encumbered with nearly A$700 million in debt. He says Xero is converting thousands and thousands of MYOB customers to its cloud platform.

"We don't see them in the marketplace," he says.

The conversion service has been in pilot for the past quarter and is "receiving exceptional feedback in New Zealand and Australia", MYOB says in a statement.

MYOB's James Scollay
MYOB's James Scollay

MYOB general manager, business division, James Scollay, says new clients are switching to MYOB cloud solutions to enjoy better value and to access a broader set of features through AccountRight Live which offers cloud-enabled accounting with a desktop interface.

Scollay touts the flexibility MYOB's system offers users who can choose to work on their accounts in the cloud or on the desktop and switch between the two.

But Drury says that is one of MYOB's weaknesses.

"What they did under private equity ownership is not invest in a full cloud platform. What they have is a hybrid," he says.

The feedback from users, Drury says, is it has been a disaster, He referred ZDNet to comments of various forums to back up that claim.

Scollay says over 50% of all new MYOB product registrations in New Zealand are for cloud solutions.

"We’re rapidly delivering on our vision and we’re pleased to help even more SMEs move to the cloud through our conversion services,” he says.

MYOB made a foray into Xero's home turf in May, buying Banklink, which provides feeds to New Zealand's banks, for NZ$136 million.

Xero, meanwhile, is pushing its own cloud bondaries, announcing new functionality called Files in Xero. While Xero has supported single file attachments on bills and receipts for a while, Files lets users attach multiple documents to almost anything in Xero for easy access.

Files can be associated with invoices, transactions, expense receipts, fixed assets, contacts, chart of accounts, bank accounts and manual journals, it says.

Xero isn't just targeting MYOB's base. Last week it raised a $180 million war chest to expand its US push, targeting Intuit especially.

Adding to the intensity of the fracas, software consultant and MYOB partner Maria Mullane of Aspire Solutions took a swipe at Xero in MYOB's release.

"Business owners who are used to using MYOB as a business management tool are often disappointed when they move to Xero because it lacks a lot of the reporting and functionality that MYOB has,” she says.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, New Zealand, Australia

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  • Response from MYOB

    Hi Rob,

    It's not something our competitors like to acknowledge but MYOB has had a web-based accounting solution for more than three years now – LiveAccounts launched in mid 2010 - which is purely web based. AccountRight Live is our second cloud accounting solution. We developed both a simple cloud-only solution and a more feature–rich cloud+desktop solution so our clients could take their pick. It’s going well – in September 70% of our new product registrations in NZ were for our cloud-based solutions.

    Rod shouldn't be able to miss us in the marketplace given MYOB supports more than 1.2m active businesses across New Zealand and Australia, with about a quarter of those being in New Zealand. And on the debt front, Xero need to find a new chestnut. Anyone interested in the official MYOB financial story can review a thread here in which we answered similar questions:

    Kristy Sheppard
    MYOB Corporate Affairs
    • Myob

      I dont think Myob's product in 2010 was anything to boast about. IMHO it was a real dog and MYOB should hang its head in shame about it. It has made up that ground but these so called Cloud and Claytons Cloud solutions have a long way to go before they are serious answers to accounting needs.
      Scott Collins
  • MYOB Maria reports

    Xero recently substantially upgraded built in reports and will have far more massive changes soon (possibly January).

    Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks also have about the same number of report add-ons, including links to the Crystal Reports powerhouse. The big difference is that Xero has been more than doubling users and add-ons for five years, while MYOB and Intuit seem to be losing total users and add-ons. QuickBooks, for example, lost 70% of add-on links in 21 months. The planned Account Right future of MYOB also has many of the worst user complaints I have ever seen. Except for company announcements, I did not find one favorable comment in the 120 posts I read.

    The stock market (which often predicts the future) has been deciding the winner of the Intuit Xero war for 5 years. Xero stock rose about 2400%, 15 times as fast as Intuit. Last week, after Xero raised its extra money for expansion, Xero rose an EXTRA 50%.

    That is why now can convert from MYOB, QuickBooks or anything else to Xero.
  • Saasu Online Accounting Software

    Gotta say I am constantly surprised you guys don't cover the local players better. Saasu has more online customers in Australia and has had customers in 50 countries for years. They are a better comparison for features and price vs MYOB and Intuit too since Saasu has inventory and full payroll and full multi currency. Do your research dudes... P.
    • Saasu - Online

      Last time I looked at Saasu ( some time ago ) it was open period and there was no way to lock periods from unintended changes. Thats a major no no
      Scott Collins
  • Myob and Xero

    As an accountant I cringe if any client runs Intuit and the related products. In Aust the only real online players are Myob and Xero. Myob needs to scramble as quick as it can cause Xero is chasing its heals and most likely kill it.

    Although I think Myobs pricing is better
    Scott Collins
  • MYOB #1 in User Complaints

    You will run away fast if you read MYOB AccountRight Live user reviews. Except for rare MYOB announcements and responses, all of the 120 comments found were TERRIBLE. Those mentioning speed consistently bashed it. This involves the newest MYOB local - web hybrid. Xero Australian users increased by 141% last year, the most anywhere, because MYOB is #1 all time in user complaints.
  • The latest on AccountRight Live

    Hi Maria

    Have you checked out the latest version of AccountRight Live? We've been providing a stream of updates every six weeks, which have seen great product improvements and enhancements that clients are really positive about, eg:

    Angely Grecia @ MYOB
  • MYOB Versus XERO

    Dear Rod Drury,

    Great job developing a product to give MYOB a serious competitor in the Marketplace ... competition is good ... but to say you are taking thousands and thousands of clients away from a product that has served those same clients so well for many, many years isn't something to poke your chest out for ... because mate ... the ones I have talked to over here in the West so far who made the jump to Xero ... so wish they hadn't done it and are flat out looking for a way to get back to a product that actually does what it says it will do. If clients come your way from MYOB, enjoy and celebrate their willingness to give your product a crack, but don't boast about it buddy - it's not a good look. :-)

    Kind Regards
    Rob Marshall
    Western Australia
    Rob Marshall
  • MYOB Versus XERO Part 2

    As an addendum to my previous comments above ... I do genuinely wish MYOB users who have switched to XERO, all the best with your new product. You need to do what you believe is best for your Business and as a lifetime Small Business Owner myself, I celebrate your attempts, whatever they may be. However I have to tell you that the recent release of MYOB Accountright 2013.3 is simply brilliant and "wowing" the socks off clients of mine whom I have assisted upgrading to it. Along with a "sneak peak" I have recently seen of the imminent release of 2013.4, I encourage anyone who hasn't made the jump to XERO yet, but is thinking of it, to have a closer look at what MYOB AR 2013 can do for you and I reckon you will be impressed.

    Kind Regards
    Rob Marshall
    Western Australia
    Rob Marshall