Intuit CEO talks plan to grow QuickBooks Online through tax season

It's almost the end of the year, which means yes, it's almost tax season again too.


Many tech and e-commerce brands are primarily concerned with the holiday season, but Intuit is looking several more weeks down the road toward tax season.

Read this

What keeps the Intuit CEO awake at night? The 'unseen competition'

Not the street lights. Not his barking dog. And not the kids. At least, not his own. It's the ones working in their college dorms who are secretly building the next big thing.

Read More

It was clear during the software company's quarterly conference call on Thursday that analysts and investors were keen to know more about how Intuit plans to continue growing QuickBooks Online.

Earlier on Thursday , Intuit highlighted amid its fiscal first quarter earnings report that the cloud-based accounting software platform's user base now stands at roughly 516,000, up 29 percent.

The platform appears to be gaining more appeal overseas as the subscriber count outside the U.S. surged by more than 80 percent to over 37,000.

Intuit CEO Brad Smith emphasized during the call that Intuit continues to ramp up international efforts. But he specified that the focus is currently on the following five markets: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India.

Nevertheless, despite the figures that make the rapid growth look easy, Smith acknowledged there was a challenge around education potential customers:

In fact, with QuickBooks Online, the challenge we had [was] getting people into the actual product and have them be productive as quickly as possible. It took 40 minutes in the old QuickBooks classic to get it set up for you and what times you would need if you had inventory. Now, by using the date in the cloud and finding customers who look like you out of the 500,000 other subscribers, we can get you set up in seconds. We erased the scenes between payroll and payments. You add an employee, and in a three-step process, you're literally paying your employee with payroll. So we're seeing a stronger uptick in the early indicators for attach, which we think will go further into the roll-out.

To keep things moving along, Smith outlined some more details about the roadmap, which includes some developments from earlier this week.

For example, Intuit introduced a revamped on Tuesday to simplify the process of developing third-party apps on the QuickBooks accounting software platform. Intuit also made the API for QuickBooks Online available for free in order to draw these third-party apps into the ecosystem in the first place.

And despite still being in beta mode, Intuit also continues to roll out the QuickBooks Online and Square package deal.

"It's about two-thirds of the business in the U.S. that operate on wheels. They paint houses, mow lawns, clean pools," Smith described. "That continues to be a nice complimentary service to our payments offering."

But Intuit's bigger picture, in regards to the Square deal, is to go after the retail and restaurant industries, reiterating a win-win potential scenario here.

"We think between that offering and our on-the-go offering and the fact they all work with QuickBooks as an operating system, this will be a net add to the total payments opportunity, and we believe it will be incremental to our business as well," Smith promised.

Finally, as one more reminder of the changing times, the company chief also hinted at a priority to move QuickBooks users from desktop versions to Online as much as possible.

"The desktop customers that want to up load their data in the cloud continues to grow strong for us, but we are trying aggressively trying to get them convert into QuickBooks Online instead of simply updating their data into the cloud," he remarked.