Is bookkeeping a $10 billion market opportunity? Intuit thinks so

All the news that's fit to account for, including: files for $100M IPO; Sage releases their full year 2019 results; Intuit releases Q1 earnings; Bench partners with Taxfyle for monthly, fixed-fee books-to-tax service; BlueVine raises $102.5M; LeaseQuery raises $40M Series A; why chrome extensions might be your biggest security threat as an accountant or bookkeeper; Canopy bails on its Tax Prep product; Scaling New Heights Online fails; California has a plan to retroactively collect sales tax from out of state online retailers; and more!



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David Leary: Arguably, Canopy didn't even win practice management yet. They're reinventing practice-management software, but they didn't win it yet. They were just turning the corner. A lotta hype and, then they just took on too much. Probably the development of this new product was probably making their existing product suffer. It was probably a tough decision to kill this product to save the other one.
Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: And I'm David Leary. Blake, we're back to our rhythm again, which I kinda like.
Blake Oliver: I do. I love it. I was on [00:00:30] Twitter today, and I was so excited to see Brad Celmainis got his Cloud Accounting Podcast swag. Did you see that?
David Leary: He bought two shirts because he couldn't decide which shirt he wanted?
Blake Oliver: I know! David, we're gonna be able to go out for like a nice meal pretty soon with the profits from our store that you set up.
David Leary: Yeah. One of us can afford to eat, and the other one can watch. That is the profit take on our merch store, here [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: Well yeah, but we don't do it for the money; we do it for the love.
David Leary: Yeah. If [00:01:00] it was just the margins we wanted, we'd just sell stickers.
Blake Oliver: What I love is that Brad's up in Canada, Calgary, and there's snow on the ground; he's outside with his T-shirt on-.
David Leary: Guns are out, like nothing, yeah.  
Blake Oliver: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Just T-shirt, snow on the ground. It must still be fall for him. So, thanks, Brad. That was awesome. Thank you for that, and thanks for the pictures. If you wanna see them, as a listener, just go into the show notes, and they'll be  there at the top.
David Leary: I was on Twitter this week, earlier in the [00:01:30] week. My daughter started doing refereeing of soccer games [crosstalk] she got her first check. You can't cash a check. It's very, very hard in this day and age to cash a check, but now it's even harder. It's harder for a kid to open a bank account just so you can get an app to cash it. I tried to use all these new banks, like Simple Bank, Ally Bank. We didn't use Chime. We tried Acorns; we've tried Stash. None of them let a kid open a bank account. 
Blake Oliver: Interesting. 
David Leary: It's almost back to where none of these new tech companies that we talked about last week [00:02:00] that wanna be banks, none of them are actually offering any new services. It's the same scenario as a regular old bank.  It's a little insane. So, yeah, that was ... I went off on Twitter on that a little bit.
Blake Oliver: Well, you're gonna have to go walk into a branch and show them your ID.
David Leary: That's the word. The word on the street is credit unions are probably the way to go; is to do stop into a credit union and do that. So, that's on the list. Then, the other thing I tweeted yesterday, I discovered ... Well, actually, it's a lesson ... When [00:02:30] you get the new Windows updates or you get updates for anything, go read the notes. Go read the release notes. So, I was like, "Oh ...," Windows 10, now, you can do the Windows Key and the period on your keyboard, no matter where you're at in windows, and you can type emojis.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I've known this in Mac for a long time. It's ... 
David Leary: I did not know that. Well, what happened was people iterated on that. I think it's Chris Macksey- I think it was him on Twitter, he discovered you can put them right into QBO and on the Chart of Accounts. If there's an account you just want people use, like the Ask the Accountant account, he put a poop emoji [00:03:00] in there. People are gonna be able to use the emojis to really signal their clients what accounts to use and not use. They carry all the way through all the reports and all the way down through the reconciliation screen and the bank feeds.
Blake Oliver: Oh, wow. 
David Leary: That's all I have for the Twitter news.
Blake Oliver: Just wait until you see that in an SEC filing.
David Leary: Yeah, that was one of the tweets, as well. Yes. 
Blake Oliver: What else is new? Do we have any reviews this week?
David Leary: We have two reviews. Both of them are very, very humbling ... We've talked about it before. I'm sitting in the closet. You're sitting [00:03:30] there at the desk, and we're talking. You don't know if people are really listening or if you're impacting the world. Turns out, they're both from Canada. A lotta Canada love this week, from the North, for us ... You wanna read one and then, I'll read one?
Blake Oliver: Sure. "Essential content in a quick and informative format. Five stars. I started a new venture in the spring and the prospect of learning about the different technologies available seemed daunting. I was too busy working with clients to do the heavy research and product testing I knew I needed to do. Listening to the back catalog [00:04:00] of The Cloud Accounting Podcast gave me the information I needed to pick, test, implement a tech stack and talk somewhat knowledgeably about the changing realities of fintech as it impacts my clients and their accountants. Thanks for the great work!" Sean Birdsell, Founder, Birdsell Consulting in Victoria, B.C., Canada. Thanks, Sean! 
David Leary: Five stars ... "Great guests, and informative content. Felt stuck in a real rut in my CPA/technology career and started listening to this podcast to broaden my perspectives. David and Blake have provided a refreshing window [00:04:30] of insight into the cloud-accounting world and helped reignite my desire to work with small businesses and startups. I look forward to each podcast to hear curated snippets of cloud-accounting news, as well as the varied perspectives of David, Blake, and their guests, as they explore changes in the not-so-boring world of CPAs. Though the content has an American bias, Canadian CPAs like myself can derive great benefit by considering what effect the topics in the news stories could have on the Canadian opportunities, client solutions, and our regulatory environment." This is from Sharon [Hine] via Apple Podcasts in Canada.
Blake Oliver: And we [00:05:00] opened the show with Canadian Twitter ... It's a theme we've got going here.
David Leary: We have a Canadian episode of an interview we did at QuickBooks Connect. 
Blake Oliver: I almost forgot something- yeah, we've got that. People have to listen to that, but- well, when it comes out, but did you see Michael Sovereign's tweet? He- 
David Leary: Oh, yeah.
Blake Oliver: -apparently, he tweeted about The Cloud Accounting Podcast, and he used the hashtag - #CPAAlberta - which I guess is the hashtag for the CPA magazine in Alberta. They [00:05:30] put the tweet ... I guess they do this thing where they take the tweets, and they publish some of them. So, they published this tweet about the episode with Megan Lewczyk and Ryan Lazanis that we did on the relevance of the CPA designation. They published that tweet. So, he took a picture of the tweet in the magazine and he tweeted that to us. So-
David Leary: This is full meta ... 
Blake Oliver: -now, it has come full circle, right? The tweet has come home. Now what we need to do, we need to get CPA Alberta to [00:06:00] run the tweet of his tweet.
David Leary: The photograph of the tweet in the magazine?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, they need to put that ... So, then we get like Inception-level tweet/magazine; Inception-level Twitter there.
David Leary: My goodness.
Blake Oliver: Thanks, Michael Sovereign. You can follow him. He's @sovereign_cloud.
David Leary: That's it. There's no more Canadian stuff the rest of the show, but we have news. There's news that has occurred.
Blake Oliver: Well, no, I do have ... I do have a Canadian app story to start things off.
David Leary: Oh, you do? 
Blake Oliver: Yeah- 
David Leary: Why don't we just do that one. No, jump right in. 
Blake Oliver: So, [00:06:30] FreshBooks opened up their first international office in Amsterdam, and they opened up their second international office in Raleigh, North Carolina.
David Leary: And they've never had a U.S. office before.
Blake Oliver: No, they've always operated from, what, Toronto?
David Leary: They're in Toronto, yep. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. 
David Leary: I have a couple quick updates on previous stories.
Blake Oliver: We've gotta talk MyPayrollHR.
David Leary: Yes, yes, that's where I was going next. MyPayrollHR, apparently the Pioneer Bank and Michael Mann have agreed to a settlement. The agreement's called a consent judgment. Essentially, [00:07:00] it's crafted when somebody is unable to pay a debt. It was signed by Mann, and Pioneer's attorney. It doesn't really mean he's gonna pay them anything. I think maybe it's one of those things Pioneer needs done so they can move on to their insurance claim or something.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I guess he's just- he's admitting that he's not going to fight them on this.
David Leary: The bank reported the outstanding balance on the loan to be $35.8 million as of October 15, and the interest accruing was at a daily rate of more than $8,500. 
Blake Oliver: Gees, that's a lot.
David Leary: We were talking about Rich Preece, [00:07:30] who left Intuit, I don't know, maybe about four weeks ago, possibly, it seems like?
Blake Oliver: Mm-hmm. 
David Leary: Couple episodes ago. Rich Preece is now joining LegalZoom. He is going to be the new chief product officer.
Blake Oliver: That's a big promotion there. So, he was previously running QuickBooks Live at Intuit.
David Leary: That's correct. 
Blake Oliver: Now, chief product officer at LegalZoom.
David Leary: Yeah, and he's joining Dan Wernikoff, who was a former QuickBooks leader at Intuit. He's joining him at LegalZoom.
Blake Oliver: Well, we had speculated amongst each other that maybe he [00:08:00] was gonna go to, which I was thinking was very likely given that just filed to go public. They're gonna do an IPO.
David Leary: That was the hint, right? 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. 
David Leary: Because I think when Rich Preece- the coverage of Rich Preece, the only news it said is he's going to a company that is pre-IPO for the first time in his career. I was like, "Well, who's going pre-IPO? Oh, it's probably 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. So, this happened late on Friday, so we missed it in our last episode. They filed on November 15, which was Friday of last week, [00:08:30] for a $100 million IPO, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. What's interesting about that is they already have raised $347 million over their lifetime, and they have a lotta cash in the bank. So, they don't need the money from the IPO.
I think this is just a way to open up access for the current shareholders to the public market, so they can exchange their share or sell, because's been [00:09:00] around for a long time. They started in 2006. They were one of the original, or very early cloud apps that everybody started using. I remember, I think they were like the second app I started using outside of QuickBooks Online.
David Leary: Yeah, I think they were one of the first three we launched- I helped launch on, originally [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Some interesting stuff in the S-1 ... A lot of these companies that go public, they do so with a direct model going [00:09:30] straight to small businesses. We actually heard that from Rob Reid, although Sage Intacct didn't go public, they got acquired. Rob Reid, in the interview, we did at Intacct Advantage with him ... He's the former CEO of Intacct. He said that or hinted at the growth of Intacct was really because they started going to a direct model. 
They started with accounting firms and then they went direct, and that's when the growth really took off. He said something to that effect. What's interesting [00:10:00] about's filing is just how much of their revenue is still from accounting firms. They have over 4,000 accounting firm partners, and it accounts for 54 percent of their total customers and 45 percent of their revenue. That's significant. Accounting firms really helped build half of
David Leary: A lot of the times, it made ... It was the de facto choice. If you didn't wanna write checks on your clients' behalf; maybe you were managing the entire operation, but [00:10:30] you needed approval on the checks you did write ... was the first real solution for that. You could get multiple owners or multiple executives at a company to approve a payment before it got made. The accountants who were involved, they had to use it because there was no other process-
Blake Oliver: Matthew May at Acuity, he was quoted in the press- 
David Leary: Ooh, celebrity! 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, about the impact it made on their business. He's all over the place.
David Leary: Another kind of follow-up one about why Big Tech companies wanna become [00:11:00] banks but can't. Actually, I think you found this article earlier in the week and tweeted it out. So, just a couple takeaways in this article. One was about [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: Where is this? What are we talking about?
David Leary: Oh, why Big Tech companies wanna become banks, but can't.
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah. Where was that? What publication?
David Leary: It was in Fortune. 
Blake Oliver: Okay. 
David Leary: You tweeted this out. I think this came out a day after our last news episode.
Blake Oliver: Oh, got it, got it. Yeah.
David Leary: I think a big takeaway in this article- two takeaways ... One, one of the biggest banks that never existed. [00:11:30] So, this dance has already happened. It was Walmart. More than a decade ago, they spent 10 years trying to get a banking charter, and they just got blocked on every front. They never were able to become a bank, and they finally gave up the fight in 2007. So, at some level, like this dance has been done of these big, huge, gigantic companies trying to become banks, and they have not had a lot of success. Then, with the regulations, that's a problem.
In this article was a really good quote that I kind of liked, and I thought it actually [00:12:00] makes sense for our industry a little bit, or a lot of the accountants that are going through change. "The future of the financial system is going to be a mix of banks and non-banks, and the winners are going to be the ones that are rapidly moving to transform themselves." 
I kinda feel like that's what is happening in our industry with accountants and bookkeepers. The ones that are gonna win are the ones that keep adapting and transforming. That's really what's gonna happen between the old established banks and all the new apps. They're gonna partner; they're gonna work together; and they're gonna keep iterating and experimenting [00:12:30] till they figure this out. But it's gonna be really hard because the push-back's just been there forever.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, well, it takes a long time to change something that's so enmeshed in regulation as banking, and we haven't been doing it for that long, honestly. What, a decade? So, give it one more, and somebody'll find a crack in that regime, and they'll break it open. That's what people are trying to do with this fintech kind of bank charter that was like a different kind of charter - a national [00:13:00] charter - so you didn't have to get all the states.
David Leary: Yeah. 
Blake Oliver: Somebody'll figure out how to do that. They'll get the political support to do it. Then, the traditional banks are done. It's gonna be over, but it'll just take a little while. Walmart was just a little too early. So, some other app news - Sage released their full-year 2019 results.
David Leary: I saw this came out, and I peeked at them, but I can't tell you any of the numbers. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Well, Sage is such a big global company that it's kinda hard to get any insight into, specifically, the North [00:13:30] American market, because we're only 35 percent of their revenue - in the USA and Canada.
David Leary: Okay. 
Blake Oliver: Northern Europe is 20 percent; Central and Southern Europe, 33 percent; South Africa and Australia, 11 percent. What stuck out to me in the Investor Fact Sheet is the change in the revenue categories. The big change from fiscal year '18 to '19 is that their software subscription revenue grew 29 percent, which [00:14:00] is really good. That's similar to Xero's growth rate. I think Xero was like 30, maybe 32 percent, something like that. Intuit has been putting up similar numbers in their results, like 30 to 40 percent. It's good, right?
Well, Sage had that for their software-subscription revenue, but they lost in a category called other recurring revenue. That declined 12 percent. So, their net recurring-revenue increase was like 11 percent, and [00:14:30] I think the other recurring revenue is probably - I haven't dug into it - probably maintenance and support - the on-prem type folks.
They're converting their existing on-premises ERP customers to cloud, like Sage Intacct, for example, but they're losing that support revenue, but getting software-subscription revenue. That's why their results are actually not that amazing, overall. They only increased revenue 5.6 percent; that's like a [00:15:00] mediocre accounting-firm growth rate; nothing particularly amazing- 
David Leary: But in the long term if the SaaS model is gonna make them more money than one-year support renewals.
Blake Oliver: Right, in the long run. It's not bad. It's just not amazing. It seems to me that if they really want to grow big numbers, if they wanna put up big top-line revenue numbers, they have to go get new customers. They can't be just converting their existing base of customers. They've gotta go get new non-Sage customers to [00:15:30] use Sage, or use Sage Intacct, in particular. Overall, certainly better than the situation they were in last year when they had all that crazy turnover at the top. I think Stephen Kelly was forced out.
David Leary: Anything else in their earnings that struck you?
Blake Oliver: Last thing is their guidance for fiscal year 2020. They're aiming for recurring-revenue growth of eight to nine percent and organic operating margin of 23 percent.
David Leary: Intuit earnings came out, as well, this week; actually, earlier [00:16:00] today. The first thing I noticed at all, of all the announcements, is I didn't see numbers for QuickBooks Online. Usually, we get to see the numbers every single quarter, right- 
Blake Oliver: How many new subscribers?
David Leary: How many new subscribers, right?
Blake Oliver: I don't think they- they don't really release revenue growth, but they do always pump the subscriber number, if it's good.
David Leary: Yeah, which has been, I think, 300,000 a quarter almost for eight, maybe 12 quarters straight. It's been growing at insane numbers. So, I wonder if that number is down a little bit and they're purposely left out. They really [00:16:30] talk more about their entire ecosystem revenue now, and that's basically everything has to do with QuickBooks. So, it'll be Payroll, probably the QuickBooks Capital, et cetera. That grew 35 percent, and the target was only 30 percent. They beat the Street on that. Then, they had some other announcements in there. The one that really stuck out was they grew the UK subscribers, and they now hold the number-one position for cloud-accounting subscribers in the country.
Blake Oliver: In the UK. So, they did beat Xero in the UK- [00:17:00]
David Leary: They did.
Blake Oliver: -because we were talking about how they might have, but we didn't have the numbers lined up, right? 
David Leary: We still don't have the numbers; we just have a sense. We still don't have the numbers, but-
Blake Oliver: Oh, but Intuit is claiming it now.
David Leary: Yes. Intuit's claiming it now. Yep, yep- 
Blake Oliver: Wow ... So, QBO ahead of Xero in the UK.
David Leary: Yeah, which explains why their international online revenues grew over 60 percent. Looked at their transcript- Now, the transcript, I didn't see the Q&A part of the transcript, but I did look at the rest of it. They have about five big bets going forward and really just calling out two of them ... Their second [00:17:30] big bet is to connect people to experts. They talk all about the QuickBooks Live launch and how it's opening up access to a $10 billion market opportunity.
Blake Oliver: $10 billion ...
David Leary: $10 billion. So, now, Intuit's, what, an $8 billion company?
Blake Oliver: But Intuit's not even ... Yeah, they're not even a $10 billion company.
David Leary: So, it's very obvious why QuickBooks Live's happening. If there's a $10 billion market opportunity there, of course, they're gonna chase it.
Blake Oliver: Yep. 
David Leary: It's very, very big. Then it gets into a little bit of details about QuickBooks Live. They said, over the last [00:18:00] six months, they've run up to 50 tests to learn what customers really need. They've refined the go-to-market and pricing strategies, and they keep building out the expert pipeline; 90 percent of TurboTax Live experts expressed interest in working with QuickBooks Live. So, they're building out the staffing for that.
Then, they also talk about how they keep improving TurboTax Live. They've been making the experts even more accessible at different points inside the product, and they've seen [00:18:30] a 32-point conversion or increase for first-time filers. So, TurboTax Live's helping ... Almost a third of TurboTax Live customers are converting because of TurboTax Live, to a paid customer.
Blake Oliver: That makes sense because talking to somebody who knows what they're doing gives you that comfort that you're gonna get your taxes filed correctly, and they're gonna keep going with TurboTax rather than bailing on it and going to somebody down the block.
David Leary: Then, the other thing, they talked about their fifth big bet was to disrupt the market with QuickBooks Online Advanced. We talked about [00:19:00] the ChronoBooks acquisition last week and that they're obviously trying to go to that. They wanna really create like a dashboard that catches all revenue streams across all their products, all their services, really to understand the entire business performance, which is a little bit different than  ... You may not need that in a smaller business, right? 
Blake Oliver: Mm-hmm. 
David Leary: Seeing that across every product, and every project, every customer. So, they're working on some of that. Yeah, so the numbers came out. It would've been great to get real QuickBooks numbers, but there's nothing this time, [00:19:30] unfortunately.
Blake Oliver: So, speaking of tax, did you see that Bench is now partnering with Taxfyle? They got together, and they're offering BenchTax. They just stuck them together ... BenchTax ...
David Leary: Makes sense, right? That's essentially what H&R Block's gonna do with their purchase of Wave. I predict one day, TurboTax Live and QuickBooks Live will have a baby where you get tax and- books and tax all at the same time.
Blake Oliver: It makes sense. We asked that of Ted Callahan when we interviewed him about QuickBooks Live [00:20:00] at QuickBooks Connect, but apparently that's not yet on the roadmap. I understand they have a lot to do. So, this is the future ... For those who don't know Bench, you should if you're- especially if you're in the bookkeeping space because they are outsourced bookkeeping through their own proprietary general-ledger receipt-scanning application, reporting application. Now, they've partnered with Taxfyle, which is a similar online app-based tax company to do the whole soup to nuts. "We'll do your books, [00:20:30] and we'll do your taxes." I guess they've got everything set up to securely share the information. You get the info to them, and they'll do your taxes.
I don't see the pricing ... Oh, yes, I do. Pricing designed to fit your needs. I'm looking at the website right now. Apparently, it's monthly. I like that idea of charging for taxes monthly rather than all at once because it makes it a lot more sticky. If you've paid for six months of taxes and you haven't yet filed, you'll probably stick around for the next [00:21:00] few months until you get your return done. A sole-prop filing for personal returns and Schedule C starts at $50 a month. A business filing starts at $75 per month. That's for partnerships, S-corps, and C-corps. Then, business, and personal filing combined starts at $110 per month.
David Leary: Got it. It makes sense, right? If you're paying for tax monthly, and it's tied to your books, it's easier to scale tax [00:21:30] that way, because then you're like ... If your tax is depending on the quality of the books, and you're controlling both parts of that equation, it's just gonna make taxes easier, and easier. 
Blake Oliver: They're paying for the books monthly because Bench is a monthly subscription, so it just rolls into that monthly fee. It makes sense for Bench and Taxfyle because their labor costs are fixed, usually. If they have employees, they're paying them salaries. I've always wondered this about accounting firms. Why do you charge for taxes at the end of a process, where you have these people on your salary, or on your payroll for the whole year? [00:22:00] You're paying for them every month, right?  
David Leary: You have options, too. I know a former sponsor of ours, Halon Tax, is basically offering this for bookkeepers. If you currently are bookkeeper, and you don't do tax at all, you could partner with an app, like Halon Tax, and they'll do the taxes for you. You can offer this same offering-
Blake Oliver: -and you don't have to go work for Bench. Yes. 
David Leary: Exactly. So, you can compete with this, with your own clients if you're choosing to do that.
Blake Oliver: So, we got some fundraising that happened. BlueVine raised $102.5 million [00:22:30] for banking services that target small business. You're familiar with BlueVine, David, as the banking and lending guy on this podcast.
David Leary: Yeah, they had the best Chapstick ever at any conferences.
Blake Oliver: Really? I'll have to get some next time.
David Leary: Yes. They didn't have any at QuickBooks Connect. I was very disappointed this time.
Blake Oliver: They started as a lending service. You connect your BlueVine to your QuickBooks, and you get a loan. That's how it worked? They look at the data ...? 
David Leary: You get a loan against your [00:23:00] open invoices- 
Blake Oliver: Now they're gonna expand more into the banking side of things. That's what this series round of equity funding is gonna be for. So, the move that they're doing is called BlueVine Business Banking, which includes checking accounts and other services alongside financing. The idea is target newer, still growing and expanding businesses. The checking account was announced in October of this year. The idea is to give them a one-stop [00:23:30] shop for all of their financial services. I assume they've gotta be doing this with a partner bank.
David Leary: I remember decades ago, 15-20 years ago, people talking about Intuit should just become a bank - a small-business bank. So, this talk has been there in the industry for a long time. Everybody wants to be a bank. We could have the Bank of Podcasting ... 
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Blake Oliver: Well, you know who doesn't wanna be a bank - at least not yet - is LeaseQuery. They raised a Series A from Goldman Sachs to grow their lease-accounting software [00:25:30] startup. This is LeaseQuery's first formal investment, and they've been bootstrapped since 2011. They're based out of Atlanta. They've got a 53,000-square-foot office in Atlanta to fill out, so they'll put that money to good use hiring new employees. They said that, in 2018, they had 708-percent year-over-year revenue growth, and they've grown from 500 clients in 2018 to 1,000 today.
David Leary: That's because of all those new lease standards that's [00:26:00] driving this growth.
Blake Oliver: Apparently only five percent of private companies have completed their lease-accounting transitions. So, they've got a lot of room to grow. As these companies start to finally do the lease-accounting change, they're gonna need some app to manage it because it's just too complex to do on spreadsheets.
David Leary: I have some news about PayPal.
Blake Oliver: Let's hear it.
David Leary: So, PayPal is to acquire online coupon site, Honey, it's called, for $4 billion.
Blake Oliver: $4 BILLION?  [00:26:30]
David Leary: $4 billion. This is PayPal's largest acquisition that they've ever done. 
Blake Oliver: It's massive! 
David Leary: If you don't know anything about Honey-.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, now I feel dumb. 
David Leary: Basically, it's an app you put on your phone ... It has web-browser extensions, et cetera. 17 million people use it. When you go to an online shopping cart somewhere, it sticks a discounts, if there's one available, in your shopping cart.
Blake Oliver: Oh ... You know what? I have heard of this, but I'm afraid to use it because I don't want it tracking everything that I'm looking [00:27:00] at on the internet. 
David Leary: So, that's where ... Exactly, right? They basically, with the browser extension, they track everything you do, so they know exactly what to target you and how much of a coupon to give you to get you to buy something. They just have this amazing amount of data [crosstalk] ... PayPal typically uses data like that for fraud prevention, but now there's new possible privacy issues, right?
Blake Oliver: Yeah. 
David Leary: With the combined company. So, it's kind of interesting. My brain was thinking about the plugin, [00:27:30] when I read this article. If you're an accountant or bookkeeper ... I think you've said use plugins for Google Chrome.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, yeah. 
David Leary: So, my thing is, if you're using plugins, plugins essentially have the access to not only the URL in the browser, but the actual data that's displayed on the page of every page you serve- 
Blake Oliver: Well, it depends on what permissions they ask for and that you grant them, but most people just click okay, and they don't really look. I'm always very skeptical of a plugin that wants access to everything that I'm looking at. 
David Leary: Yeah. My thing is, I started thinking ... For [00:28:00] accountants and bookkeepers with plugins, is this a real concern? Are you exposing- potentially exposing your clients' data unknowingly?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, absolutely-
David Leary: If you have browser plugins.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, and if you have a malicious browser plugin, and you're a bookkeeper, and you're going in QBO, or Xero all day long looking at stuff, going into bank accounts, and you've got a malicious plugin in your browser, that could be scraping everything you're doing and sending it back to some hacker. Absolutely. It's a huge security risk.
David Leary: Everybody uninstall [00:28:30] those browser plugins! 
Blake Oliver: Don't use ... Have a separate profile on your computer - one for personal, one for Honey, and one for a client work, where you don't have any plugins because it's just too risky.
David Leary: Tipalti is partnering with AR-automation firm YayPay. I'm wondering if this is gonna be more of a trend, because previously, you'd go to conferences, and you'd go places, the AP guys would be over here; the AR guys are over here, and it's very clear of who does what. I'm using the AP to pay all my bills. [00:29:00] I'm using the AR to usually do some sort of chasing or collections activities with my clients.
Blake Oliver: I always wondered why they didn't do both because it's just two sides of the same coin. It's the same concept. One is you're pushing money; one is you're pulling money. Why do we need two different apps? I always wondered why didn't put more into their accounts-receivable function, which they have. A lot of people don't even know that. You can get ... Anyway, go ahead.
David Leary: Yeah. Well, I think there's some expertise [00:29:30] in collections that are way different skill set. I think if you try to focus on both at the same time, you'd probably not do either well, and I think that's kinda what happened. So, we're probably gonna start seeing companies merge together that do this, beyond a partnership- 
Blake Oliver: What's the deal with the actual partnership?
David Leary: I think they're just collaborating. It didn't really say ... I don't think there's going to be any API level. It's really just they're gonna start working together.
Blake Oliver: Oh, they'll just like sell each other, just promote [00:30:00] each other to the mutual client?
David Leary: Yeah, I think it's starting out with that. They're going to help ... Enterprises might be using the AP side, and they're being educated, like, "Hey, you can also use technologists of our AR side." The interesting thing for me is ... My two cents is YayPay, they should've paired up with WayPay ... So, Yay - Y-A-Y-Pay - shoulda paired up with WayPay - W-A-Y-Pay. 
Blake Oliver: YayWayPay ... [crosstalk] maybe they could merge, and they could be YayWayPay.
David Leary: That was kind of the observation [00:30:30] on that.
Blake Oliver: I like that. 
David Leary: I had another eye-roller story that was app-related- 
Blake Oliver: Let's hear it.
David Leary: This was picked up by, which I think is a lot of articles written by bots. We plow through a lot of these and sometimes, the article will be written, and you'll find a link to the real article that you wanna read, and you drill down. That's how I get a lot of articles for the show. But they had one just rolling my eyes this week. A time-sheet up, OnTheClock, announced that they basically [00:31:00] now have an API, and they can send time data to accounting and payroll systems.
Blake Oliver: Oh, wow! Wow! That's a big deal! 
David Leary: Some part of me is like, "Is this even news?" How'd this get through there? Then, the interesting one is the OnTheClock ... They have like 9,000 customers, right? So, these people have just been okay with CSV imports and typing data for the last six or seven years, while dozens, and dozens, and dozens ... 
My experience with APIs in QuickBooks- everybody [00:31:30] built a time-sheet app; everybody was building one because A) that was the demo app everybody saw the code for. Then, B) it was one of those like easily attacked problems. Everybody has time-sheet problems in small businesses, and everybody attacks that. A lot of people ... It made sense. The whole point of tracking time is to not have to type it into an accounting system. So, I just thought was interesting ... It's surprising that that was an article.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, interesting. Well, a lot of people ... We [00:32:00] have to remember that most businesses are really just solving point problems, at this point. The people who are actually doing integrations ... I was just talking about this with somebody, like how many businesses are on cloud? It's about 50 percent now. That's great. We've reached mass adoption of cloud, in general. But most businesses are still not integrating apps. I would put that at 10 percent; the rest, 90 percent, it's just, "Here's one app that does this. Yes, it's in the cloud, but I still have to manually [00:32:30] take the information from that app, put it in this one." That's exactly the situation.
David Leary: I think I had a conversation with me at TSheets once, and they were just pulling their hair out because they had this huge overlap - if you draw Venn diagram of TSheets customers and QuickBooks Online customers that didn't use the integration. They would use every other way to move the data across; for whatever reason, they just would not use the ... They just never turned the integration on. So, yeah, I'm sure, even when the technology exists, they don't use it.
Blake Oliver: Well, I [00:33:00] always wonder if, sometimes, it's because moving that data over is somebody's job, and they're not interested in automating it? Do you know what I mean? 
David Leary: I've heard- 
Blake Oliver: Like there's a person who types in the payroll ... 
David Leary: We've heard this from accounting firms. They struggle through an internal in-house bookkeepers about using automated tools to help make data efficient- data entry ... 
Blake Oliver: Why would you automate your own job if you're not sure if you'll have one after that? That's why it's super-important, as a firm owner, or a business owner, to reassure your people that you're [00:33:30] gonna find other work for them to do that's more rewarding. The other way- if they don't trust you, they're not gonna help you.
David Leary: I'll let you jump in on some articles. I do have an article about your great state of California, but I'll let you jump into some articles. 
Blake Oliver: I've got one more app article before we get into other broader news. Canopy Tax. So, listeners of the show may recall, and those that are aware of the cloud-tax space, which is kind of small, that Canopy was one of those bright stars that was growing really [00:34:00] fast. Then, this year, they ran into some trouble. We're not sure exactly what, but they had to lay off 100 hundred people earlier this year, right after they built this beautiful office. Then they had to lay off another 70-something just recently, and the CEO stepped down. So, something went wrong. They expanded too quickly-
David Leary: I think, if I remember the news before, earlier in the year, they expected to have some tax product out on the market, and it never made it. It never got done.
Blake Oliver: Everybody was really excited [00:34:30] about this because there's not a lot in the way of new challenger tax products. You've got the old established guard - the Thomson Reuters, the CCHs - that are moving their products to cloud. A lot of times, it's a hybrid cloud. It's not the best ... Something built in the cloud, with modern UI, that's like QuickBooks or Xero, that's what everybody wants, and nobody has that yet. Canopy was saying, "We're gonna build that for you."
Well, that is no longer gonna happen, at least in the short term. [00:35:00] Our friend Clint Bowers, CPA, in Dallas, received an email that he posted on Twitter from somebody at Canopy. Clint has been working with Canopy to on-board his clients for several months now.
He just received an email last night saying, "Thank you so much for your patience. I have some updated information for you. At Canopy, we're on a continual mission to innovate and refine our solutions and how we deliver them. To that end, we recently made changes to our near-term product [00:35:30] direction in an effort to heighten our focus on further enhancing our practice-management product. 
Our mission remains the same - to develop a comprehensive software solution that enables you to effectively manage your work, seamlessly interact with your clients, and efficiently deliver your services. Our practice-management product is the foundation of that mission. As part of these changes, our recently released tax-prep product will no longer be supported for the 2019 tax year. The tax-prep product will move to a private beta while we work to expand its functional breadth and depth [00:36:00] before making it publicly available once more. I hope this is helpful to you."
So, Clint was just upset, to say the least, because he spent a lot of time onboarding clients and providing feedback and now they're backing down from the tax-prep product to work on their core product, which is a practice-management solution. I don't know ... What do you think, David? Having been in software, what do you think about the way they ...?
David Leary: Well, it goes to what I just said a little while ago about if you try to build [00:36:30] an AP solution and an AR solution at the same time, you probably would suck at both. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: They have not ... Arguably, Canopy didn't even win practice management yet. They were reinventing practice-management software, but they didn't win it yet. They were just-
Blake Oliver: Still very new. 
David Leary: -turning the corner. A lot of hype. Then they just took on too much. Probably the development of this new product was probably making their existing products suffer. It was probably a tough decision to kill this product to save the other one. It's like those wild animals that they eat their own babies to have the other babies survive, you know? It's [00:37:00] one of those things.
Blake Oliver: Unfortunately, a lot of goodwill lost in the cloud-accounting community, I imagine. I just have to say that I don't think this was the best way to communicate it. No apology; just saying they're no longer gonna support it for the 2019 tax year. It could have been a little more human, don't you think?
David Leary: Yeah, I think that's ... It's tricky. These are tough. All those things are tough decisions that people have to make like this. It's sad because Canopy, like you said, was a rising star, and now it's ... Now, you [00:37:30] wonder are they gonna make it all?
Blake Oliver: Right. 
David Leary: Are we gonna, six months down the road, be like, "That's the end of Canopy ..."? 
Blake Oliver: I hope not, because tax needs to be disrupted. It's just so hard that nobody's really done it yet, and Canopy was so promising. I think it still is. Maybe it can be turned around. So, this is funny; this just popped into my feed. I'm talking about how Canopy is disrupting tax, right? Well, let's put this in perspective - Wolters Kluwer just [00:38:00] announced in October that they have added a client-collaboration module to their CCH Access cloud-based tax-prep product. So, literally, the thing that Canopy does that has been ... Wolters Kluwer just finally added it. 
David Leary: So, obviously, drama from Canopy this week. There's Twitter drama things that happened this week. I'll read the headline from Insightful Accountant. "Joe Takes Scaling New Heights Online 2019 Offline."  [00:38:30]
Blake Oliver: Oh, God, yeah, how did we ... How did it take so long for us to get to this? 
David Leary: That I don't know. So, I could read the news. I think you experienced the news as a vendor.
Blake Oliver: Yes. Yeah, it's interesting ... For our listeners who don't know is Scaling New Heights Online is, this is not the regular Scaling New Heights conference. This is the online conference, which, is it in its second year? This is the first year I've had anything to do it, but- 
David Leary: No, it's been around at least four, or five, maybe six [00:39:00] years. It's been around for a long time. 
Blake Oliver: Oh, okay. 
David Leary: It's interesting ... I've experienced it as an attendee once, and I experienced it as somebody who did a talk once. Everybody who attends, they can do CPE credit. It's almost like being ... You have a little avatar. It kinda feels like 1990s kinda cool ... You're walking around, and you can click on things, and you go into a room to attend a conference- not a conference, a session, and you get your CPE credit.
My understanding, it's always been decently attended. [00:39:30] He might get 1,000 people at his in-person conference, and he might have 2,000, maybe 3,000 at his online one. Now, I don't think all the people attend at the same time, but throughout the period of- a lotta times, it's like two days it's happened before. So, historically, this has existed, and it's a good way for people to get CPE credit, and they can pop in and out of sessions. There's even an expo hall, and sponsors are there, and that type of thing. Apparently, there was technical issues, this week- 
Blake Oliver: Yes. Yeah, it was supposed to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It [00:40:00] starts at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, so that's like 5:00 a.m., my time. So, I woke up, and I got into my email, and I had an email saying that they were having some technical difficulties that had been resolved. 
Then, I was curious, so I decided to go and log in, which I had never done before. Then, my password wouldn't work, so I had to do a reset. Then, I ended up in some sort of WordPress back-end system, and I had to go back to the URL and find that again and try to get in. Finally, I got in. Then, [00:40:30] I tried to go to sessions, and they wouldn't load. I tried to walk around the Expo Hall ... I guess the whole thing crashed at some point, and nobody could use it, and they had to cancel the whole thing.
David Leary: Yeah. I know he sent out ... There was an email sent out to everybody about how ... It's on a little bit of a spin, I think. It was called a 'strategic pivot." 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, could you read that? Do you have the email open? Do you have the subject line?
David Leary: I don't have the email open. I do not have the subject line of that email.
Blake Oliver: I'm gonna find it for you because I did think this was very [00:41:00] much a savvy marketing move, here. Let's see-.
David Leary: While you're searching for that, it really reminded me of when the Woodard Group, when they had the bankruptcy.
Blake Oliver: Yes.
David Leary: Almost 18 years ... 18 months ago, prior to Scaling New Heights 2018; the event. There's bankruptcy ... But everything got reframed and respun as the venue move. So, when I saw this ... Somebody forwarded me the email, and I saw that, and it said 'strategic pivot,' I'm like, strategic pivot? The [00:41:30] whole thing crashed. It just kind of ... I found that a little ironic that it's just being spun as a strategic move.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, and that's the headline of the email; that's the subject line - Strategic pivot - Scaling New Heights Online. Then, in the email, the headline is Finding a Different Way to Bring You the Value. "Due to unforeseen technical difficulties that we were not able to fully resolve, we unfortunately need to find a different approach to deliver the training we promised you as registrants as SNH Online." They just shut it down immediately.
Now, I have [00:42:00] to say, as a vendor, I still have not received any communication. I was inquiring on Tuesday as to, "Hey, what's going on? We haven't got anyone chatting with us in the conference. We've set aside one of our sales guys to chat with people for two days ..." So, no communication from on the vendor side at all about this. I don't know [00:42:30] what's gonna happen. I think some- vendors paid to do this and there were like 20-something. So, I don't know ... 
David Leary: Yeah, it's obviously not solved yet. It's just it's interesting that that email came out, and it felt very marketable.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, you gotta do whatever you can to save it. But I think they're gonna- they're rescheduling it for December.
David Leary: Maybe it's just a technical thing; like the platform that's being used needs to be replaced, or it needs to move to [00:43:00] a different platform. Maybe it has to be really grassroots, and it's all on a Zoom. I don't know.
Blake Oliver: Well that's what they're gonna do. So, apparently, they're doing six days in December, and it's just gonna be a long GoToWebinar.
David Leary: People pop in and out to the sessions they want, when they wanna be in that session-
Blake Oliver: Something like that, yeah. 
David Leary: Get rid of all the avatars, and the robots, and the walking around, and all that other kinda stuff. 
Blake Oliver: It did feel a little bit like Myst. You ever play that game on your computer ...?
David Leary: I know what you're talking about [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, it was like walking [00:43:30] around in Myst. It was making me nostalgic.
David Leary: Nostalgic for that? There's some other drama. I don't know if you saw this. There's a petition online that was created, and the title of the petition is "Stop Intuit from Stealing Work from Bookkeepers." 
Blake Oliver: I did see that. How many signatures does it have now, though?
David Leary: I don't think it has 300 yet. So, in the grand scheme of things, there's what? 130,000-140,000 ProAdvisors, maybe 150,000 QuickBooks ProAdvisors. I don't know how [00:44:00] many are bookkeepers versus accountants, et cetera, but only 300 have signed it, right? Versus, we just talked about Intuit's numbers. It's a $10 billion opportunity, here, right? This is going to happen.
My thing is ... You can put this on my gravestone - Every accounting platform is going to offer the similar service! Put it on my gravestone. Every accounting platform will offer a similar service. It's not so much they're stealing ... Everybody's trying to steal your clients. I would argue, Intuit's not trying [00:44:30] to steal your clients ... Admittedly, one of the gripes they have in there, and we talked about this on the show in the past, Intuit was not going to market QuickBooks Live bookkeeping to the clients of the existing ProAdvisors. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, but they keep doing it accidentally.
David Leary: Yeah. It's either a bug in the code ... I still question that. It probably is a bug in the code, but I question like ... This should be extra-triple-checked- tested because of the sensitivity. Everybody is very, very sensitive about this. I [00:45:00] also feel like there's ... If you take the bell curve of ProAdvisors, you've got some on one end who are like ... They're in a niche. They're value-billing. Their business model isn't really threatened by QB Live. Then, you have people on the other end who are starting their practices. They don't really have a practice yet, and they're just looking for bookkeeping work. Then, those people- you've seen them on the Facebook groups, like, "How do I get clients?
Blake Oliver: Right, right. 
David Leary: "How do I create a process for onboarding a client?" Those people are gonna be happy, but I think there's people that are maybe in the middle there that [00:45:30] haven't ... They haven't taken that next step to the future of really building out their practices differently and improving their practices, so I could see where this is definitely a threat. It's just I'm not sure a petition's gonna do anything about it. 
Blake Oliver: Oh, no, absolutely not, and it's just not gonna get enough eyeballs. Not enough people are gonna support it because this is gonna happen, and it's gonna happen before anyone wakes up. The vast majority of people, like you said, are not aware of it; the vast majority of bookkeepers. There's what? Like how many millions of accountants in this country ... There's between [00:46:00] a million and 2 million bookkeepers alone. How many of them are aware of QuickBooks Live? Tiny little fraction.
David Leary: Only the ones that listen to the podcast, right? 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, right [crosstalk] you guys are on the cutting edge. I don't think those folks are gonna be replaced by a QuickBooks Live type thing. It's that person who's billing 20 bucks an hour, 10 hours a week for some small business that they do on the side, or [00:46:30] maybe less. A lot of people charge even less; $15 an hour, $10 an hour.
David Leary: Yeah, and those people are gonna get a raise from this [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Right. They'll want to go work for QuickBooks Live because they'll make more money.
David Leary: We talked about before your California, and your budget problems, and your ERP problems, and your building the bridge problems- 
Blake Oliver: Don't associate me directly with California's budget problems. I just live here, man.
David Leary: Okay. Well, I think California has a plan on how to fix all of this.
Blake Oliver: Oh, really?
David Leary: There was an article in Accounting Today.
Blake Oliver: I don't believe it ... Okay, tell me what-  [00:47:00]
David Leary: The title of the article is "Back Taxes for Online Sales." I'll just read this out loud, so you hear it very clearly - their plan.
Blake Oliver: Well, don't read it to yourself because ... 
David Leary: "Despite signing onto a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief stating otherwise, California is now retroactively seeking sales tax from out-of-state online merchants going back as far as 2012. The move is seen as a bellwether as other states are watching to see how California fares."
Blake Oliver: Wow. That's [00:47:30] a dick move ... But Californians won't get upset because they're not going after us; they're going after people in other states selling into California, and we've got a lot of people, so it's a lot of money.
David Leary: So, that's ... Yeah, I don't know if you wanna speak to that or not [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I mean ... I don't know. It's just gonna create huge problems for small businesses. It's not very business friendly. California needs to actually solve its structural issues. I just wish that in California we'd fix the housing crisis. Housing is so expensive because we don't build enough houses. [00:48:00] If we just built more houses, things would be- it'd be cheaper. It's that basic. It's that simple. But instead, I'm driving my car on the street, and I see a sign on the back of a bus that says some not-for-profit ... No, it was some local initiative raised money to build 6,000 housing units. We're in a city of what? How many millions of people?
David Leary: 20 million. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, it's insane, right? I don't even know. It could be 20 million. It's [00:48:30] not that many ... Or the region ...  6,000 units. It's not gonna do it. So, anyway, don't get me ... I'm gonna rant if I go on any longer. But I do have something else about sales tax. So-
David Leary: What's that?
Blake Oliver: Apparently, Grubhub has been tattling on its competition. The food delivery company, Grubhub, said it collected hundreds of millions in taxes for delivery and service fees in dozens of states since at least 2011. But [00:49:00] Recode, a VOX publication, published an article finding that, in some of those same states, their rivals in the delivery space that include DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats don't appear to be collecting a cent of taxes. That discrepancy puts those rivals in a precarious position if regulators take notice and object. So, basically, DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, because they're not collecting these taxes ... They probably should be, given that ... Why [00:49:30] would Grubhub do it if they didn't have to?
David Leary: Yeah because Grubhub is gonna be the outlier. Somebody's gonna investigate - why are they the outlier? Then they're like, "Oh, because they're doing it right," and then, they're gonna go after everybody else. 
Blake Oliver: Grubhub has thus been the leader up until recently. DoorDash just, I guess, surpassed them recently; but Grubhub's been collecting the tax. Their competition isn't. I think they ... Basically, those apps, those companies could be on the hook for lots of money, and it could actually affect the restaurants, too. The tax authorities could come after those restaurants who [00:50:00] are not collecting the sales tax, or the delivery tax, or whatever taxes are applicable because they're relying on the app to do it. Something to watch out for, actually, if you have clients who are in the food-service space or if they're using apps; are they using ones that collect the correct tax and remit it? If not, they might be in trouble.
David Leary: Yeah, that'll be the next grab by ... Once they get all the online retail sales, they'll be going after the food.
Blake Oliver: Well, and it's just like New Jersey is going after Uber right  now [00:50:30] for all sorts of payroll taxes and whatnot. $650 million in unemployment and disability insurance taxes because they allegedly misclassified their workforce as independent contractors instead of employees. So, as these app-based businesses in this app economy get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, they become bigger targets for governments, and tax authorities to extract money from them for not being completely compliant.
David Leary: The wheels of the bus keep going. I have no [00:51:00] other news this week that's probably worth talking about or that fits in. What about you? 
Blake Oliver: Let's end on a positive note. How about that? Sound good? 
David Leary: Okay. 
Blake Oliver: You know I love these surveys from CPA Trendlines. They do good surveys, good data. I spotted one of their charts called, "Workflow, Security the Biggest Tech Challenges." Apparently, from 2017 to 2019, some things have become more challenging, and some things have become less challenging for CPA firms. The [00:51:30] good news is that workflow and efficiency has become less challenging, with 20.6 percent of respondents saying that's their biggest challenge.
I can't actually see what it was because the numbers aren't here on the chart, but it was higher in 2018 and 2017. Security is also less of a challenge than it was in 2017. What has gone up? Getting your clients on board, working with the firm in a more digital way. That's now gone up; and creating and implementing an effective technology strategy [00:52:00] has also gone up since 2017. I guess that's sort of a mixed bag.
David Leary: I'm just reframing in my brain. On one hand, internally, workflows are doing better at firms, but actually trying to be more efficient and working with your clients in more efficient ways, that's still a struggle. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, but I think it's a good thing because it means, first of all, firms are feeling more confident about security; they're feeling more confident about their workflow and efficiency in-house; and now they're turning externally and saying, "Hey, let's be more efficient with [00:52:30] our clients. Let's get them working more efficiently with us in a digital way." I think that then leads to this technology strategy that you need. So, I think it's progress.
David Leary: It's all we can ask for is progress.
Blake Oliver: And that is it for this week. As always, you can find me online. I am @BlakeTOliver on Twitter, and I will be at the Digital CPA Conference in Seattle from December 9 to 11 with Jirav, so come see us at the Jirav booth [00:53:00] at DCPA if you'll be there. And how about you, David?
David Leary: I'm @DavidLeary. Very easy to find on Twitter. You can find The Cloud Accounting Podcast now on all the socials. You wanna make sure you hit the show notes and get the link to our merch store, because I think Black Friday is next week, and when you're sitting around digesting your turkey, you could order your family members that Cloud Accounting Podcast shirt. Put it under the Christmas tree.
Blake Oliver: And if you leave us a review, we will read it on the air. Great talking to you, David. See you next week.
David Leary: All [00:53:30] right. See you next week, Blake. Bye. 

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