For about five million small-business owners, QuickBooks financial software is a lifeline – an inexpensive, easy-to-use program that satisfies their often relatively uncomplicated needs. The same is true for the millions of individual income-tax filers who use TurboTax, which generally costs much less than using an accountant.
Both products are among those in the stable of Intuit, a Fortune 1000 software firm. At the finance wheel since 2008 is Neil Williams, a former CFO of Visa USA. He’s presided during a period of relatively modest but steady growth, much of it accomplished through acquisition. For its fiscal year ended July 31, Intuit recorded $4.2 billion of net revenue, up about 10 percent from the previous year and 40 percent since Williams came aboard.
More impressive has been its stock’s performance, which was trading at just over $66 on Wednesday morning. The shares opened at $31.50 on Williams’ first day at Intuit almost six years ago.
This has been an eventful year for the company, which made significant progress in its effort to integrate its various software products aimed at small businesses on a single platform. It also divested two business units: Intuit Financial Services, which hosts online banking and bill-payment for about 2,000 bank websites; and Intuit Health Group, which provides portals through which patients exchange information with medical providers. And Intuit launched an effort to get accountants around the world to help distribute QuickBooks, as many in the United States already do.
CFO recently spoke with Williams about the company and its recent changes. An edited version of the conversation follows.
Unlike most software companies, Intuit is quite mature. How does that shape your role as CFO?
Lots of goodness comes to a 30-year-old company like ours, in terms of funding, a stable investor base and many constituents who know and love the products. But one question is, how do you keep it nimble, progressive and innovative like a company that’s just starting up? There are both challenges and opportunities in making sure we can adjust quickly, recognize new things going on in the market, and don’t get too comfortable or complacent with the successful products we already have.
With new ideas and products that are just getting off the ground, we try not to press them for profitability or revenue growth too early in their life cycle. We like to give them an opportunity to bloom and attract a loyal following first.
Companies we’ve acquired, like DemandForce, PayCycle and Mint, all bring in fresh perspective, energy, new skills and different perceptions of the marketplace that permeate the organization. It’s one of the things that keeps us on our toes.