We've got a lot of news to keep you occupied this week, including how Shark Tank host, Barbara Corcoran, lost $400K due to invoice scam; Intuit's Q2 Earnings call & plans for Credit Karma; and how high housing costs contribute to the growth of remote work. We'll talk about Intuit partnering with Karbon for practice management, Revolut's plans to revolutionize banking in the United States, the best online banks for businesses, and what's new with QuickBooks Online. Then, we'll cover Pilot's new CFO services, the Drake Hosted outage, IRS confusion regarding virtual currency, how AI is coming for tax evaders, and the AICPA's thoughts on climate change.
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David Leary: [00:00:20] All arrows are pointing to remote working.
Blake Oliver: [00:00:21] Well, and coronavirus, too.
David Leary: [00:00:22] Coronavirus - that's where I was going next, yeah. Except for, let's keep perspective on the coronavirus, right? The odds of you getting ransomwared is much higher than getting that.
Blake Oliver: [00:00:31] Yes, business-email threat - much riskier than the coronavirus.
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Blake Oliver: [00:02:17] Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: [00:02:20] And I'm David Leary. Another week, Blake.
Blake Oliver: [00:02:22] Another week, and a Shark Tank host got business-email-compromised.
David Leary: [00:02:29] We talk about this ... Every other week, I feel like we talk about somebody paying a bill that was a fake bill that they got an email for.
Blake Oliver: [00:02:36] It's sad because this happens all the time, and the only reason this got reported on CNN is because it's a celebrity. Barbara Corcoran - is that how you say her last name?
David Leary: [00:02:47] I think so.
Blake Oliver: [00:02:47] She's the real estate magnate who sold her real estate company and is now a Shark Tank Shark. She lost ... What was it?
David Leary: [00:02:57] $388,700. TMZ actually broke the story and tweeted about it first, and she actually put a comment on it about how it's a lesson learned. Two things I liked about the article ... One day, when The Cloud Accounting Podcast is this global phenomenon, where we're making so much money, we will be able to say, "I was upset at first, but then remembered it was only money."
Blake Oliver: [00:03:21] That is what Barbara Corcoran told the magazine. I don't know what magazine she was talking to. Yep. When $400,000 is no big deal ... It's only money.
David Leary: [00:03:31] 30,000 people reported being a victim of that scam last year.
Blake Oliver: [00:03:35] Let's talk about exactly what happened here, because it is so common and so easy to prevent. That's the really sad thing about this.
David Leary: [00:03:42] If her bookkeeper listened to The Cloud Accounting Podcast, this would not have happened.
Blake Oliver: [00:03:46] So, a scammer faked an email from her assistant to her bookkeeper, sending an invoice for a renovation payment on a property. Then, the bookkeeper wired the $388,700 to that fake invoice bank account. Once you wire, you're not getting it back, if it's going out of the country. There's a lot of things wrong with this, right? One, why does the bookkeeper have wire transfer authority? Separation of duties - you don't have the person keeping the records moving the money - Treasury Management 101.
David Leary: [00:04:20] There's no approvals.
Blake Oliver: [00:04:23] No approvals going on here. It's just an automatic payment. No threshold of approvals. And the fact that the whole thing happens via email, which is, as we have discussed, not secure.
David Leary: [00:04:34] They're saying there was nothing suspicious about this because the amount fit in what they expected. They're used to doing $400,000 wire transfers.
Blake Oliver: [00:04:43] We don't know, because the article doesn't provide a lot of information, but we can guess because I spotted an article about this problem in The Wall Street Journal. Most of the time, what is happening now ... This article, if you wanna go check it out, it's called, "Email Scammers Are Savvier, and More Successful, Than Ever." It's about some FBI data on this problem, specifically. Apparently, the trend is now that ... In the past, it used to be that scammers would spoof an email address. They would send it from a different domain, but it would look like yours, David. Then, that email would be going to your bookkeeper, or your CFO, or whoever's in charge of the bank account. It looks like it's coming from you, but there's something still quite off about it.
David Leary: [00:05:27] Yeah, it'll say Blake Oliver, but the real email address will be firstname.lastname@example.org, and it'll just ... If you're not paying attention, you'll just think it was from Blake.
Blake Oliver: [00:05:34] Like a misspelled domain or something like that, right? Most email software, now, can catch that, and they put a big red warning; like on my Gmail account ... I don't know if you ever see this, but if somebody sends me an email message that has their name, but it came from an email service they're using, and it's not exactly from their account, you get a big warning. So, now, what the scammers have done is they've upgraded, and now they're just hacking accounts and using the information in that account to figure out who to scam. So, they may have ... We don't know, but they may have hacked that assistant's email account and then saw, "Okay, here are similar invoices that this assistant has received and forwarded to the bookkeeper. So, I'm just gonna use the exact same process, make it look very similar, and send a fake invoice." Then that's really hard to detect. They actually send it from that account, so there's no warning.
David Leary: [00:06:22] Because it's coming from the real person's email account, so everything looks real about it. Yep.
Blake Oliver: [00:06:28] Everything looks real. The stats from the FBI in this Wall Street Journal article are really scary. There were 23,775 complaints of business-email, and email-account compromises in 2019, up from 20,000 the prior year. Estimated losses, annually, more than $1.7 billion in 2019; that's up from $1.2 billion in 2018. There's some charts where- I think you said it looks like an exponential growth curve.
David Leary: [00:06:59] Oh, about ransomware.
Blake Oliver: [00:07:01] Yeah. So, back in 2014, it was less than $200 million, and now it's up over $1.5 ... What'd I just say? $1.8 million? $1.7 billion ... Sorry. It's crazy.
David Leary: [00:07:15] So, the magazine that she was quoted in was People Magazine. When TMZ and People Magazine are covering bookkeeper fraud, we are at a whole new level. So, that's the goal, folks. You don't want your bookkeeper, or your accounting firm, or bookkeeping firm to be in People Magazine. That should not be your goal, at this point.
Blake Oliver: [00:07:36] Well, my top story this week is about my city, Los Angeles, and the state of California, which you know I love to talk about the problems we have here in California, David.
David Leary: [00:07:46] Is the accounting system done? They finally built their billion-dollar ERP system- is it done?
Blake Oliver: [00:07:51] Oh, no, I forgot about that. We'll have to check in. It's not- there's been no announcement, so I assume that we're continuing to spend, building this thing. Anyway, San Francisco has been the most expensive housing market in the United States for years. It's a given - the Bay Area, super-expensive. Well, I'm happy to report that my city, Los Angeles, is now in first place, at least according to one report. We are now the least affordable housing market in the country, beating San Francisco, which has a median home price of $908,750. The National Association of Realtors has said that California, in general, is the least affordable place to live in the US. So we're the least affordable city in the least affordable state.
[00:08:35] How was that decided? Well, the National Association of Home Builders and the Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index gave us the title of least affordable housing market because only 11.3 percent of homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2019 were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $73,100. So, if you compare the price of homes here to the median income, which is lower than in the Bay Area, that makes us less affordable. Do you know where Californians are going, David?
David Leary: [00:09:06] To Arizona, and Nevada.
Blake Oliver: [00:09:07] Las Vegas is the number-one place. So, why did I bring this up? Well, because we talk a lot about remote work, and I think that this is one of the big factors that's gonna drive more and more companies to allow remote work. Remote work can be many different things. It might be working from home, but it also could be working in different offices. So, a lot of companies now are setting up offices in suburbs in Las Vegas so that their employees can relocate, and work out of an office, and they collaborate from office to office.
[00:09:39] That's exactly the situation that my wife has at her company; she works for a large national health insurance company that has 50,000 employees, and she just met her boss this week because he works out of an office in Ohio. She works out of an office here in LA, and her whole team is in different offices. They don't actually work from home, but they work in different offices around the country. This is an interesting nuance about remote work. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're always working from home. So, maybe that'll be a big trend.
David Leary: [00:10:09] All arrows are pointing to a remote working.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:10] Well, and coronavirus, too!
David Leary: [00:10:12] Coronavirus - that's where I was going next. Except for, let's keep perspective on the coronavirus, right? The odds of you getting ransomwared is much higher than getting that.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:22] Yes, business-email threat - much riskier than the coronavirus. Because I think, even if you do get sick, only- I know it's terrible, but only like two percent of people die from the coronavirus, and it's mostly people who are already sick or older.
David Leary: [00:10:36] I've gotten some emails; I've noticed people in our industry, now, are- some apps are using coronavirus as a marketing ... It happens a lot, right? People [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: [00:10:43] Well, it's smart-
David Leary: [00:10:45] -turned 9/11 into a marketing tool. They just do.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:48] Yeah, well, because people are paying attention. I did the thing you're not supposed to do, and I went and checked my 401(k) this morning. It's down 10 percent. That's freaking some people out, obviously.
David Leary: [00:10:58] Well, if you're retiring next week.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:59] I spotted an article about the coronavirus in Accounting Today. The SEC and PCAOB issued a joint statement on Wednesday about the impact of the coronavirus on audit firms. That's a big challenge is how do you do your year-end annual audit in China when everything is shut down and quarantined, right?
David Leary: [00:11:17] Because you physically have to travel there.
Blake Oliver: [00:11:19] It's tough. How do auditors go visit clients during the outbreak? They're talking about doing some sort of relief for those audit firms. Then, there's also discussion about do I have to disclose the coronavirus risk in my 1231 filings? Because even though coronavirus wasn't a risk at that point, you still have to do some sort of subsequent disclosures, potentially. So, it's creating a lot of work- extra work for folks.
David Leary: [00:11:49] But it's also a blessing in disguise, I think, for some companies - Under Armour ... Because you watch search terms about accounting, and accounting mishaps, so you see what some big companies are doing; So, Under Armour, the sports clothing company, or whatever, they were misstating, for years, their revenue and their sales, and it kind of caught up to them eventually. But now, with coronavirus, they're able to kind of blame all their losses ... They changed the narrative. Now they have a story they can tell; like, "Oh, we're gonna be impacted by the coronavirus." They don't have to tell the real story, which is the game they played caught up to them because, now, nobody's gonna dig into the numbers. Nobody's gonna look at the articles that came out quarter, after quarter, after quarter. Yeah, so it's a blessing in disguise for some companies.
Blake Oliver: [00:12:31] Interesting.
David Leary: [00:12:31] Should we get into the big money? Last week, there was a- it was still rumor status, I think, about Intuit acquiring Credit Karma [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: [00:12:40] Well, the story broke, I think, the morning we recorded, and it was a Wall Street Journal exclusive, and it wasn't totally 100-percent confirmed.
David Leary: [00:12:51] Yeah, I think it went from ... It was in talks.
Blake Oliver: [00:12:54] Right. They were at the end of it, and the news leaked.
David Leary: [00:12:58] So, then the next morning, Intuit confirms that it has plans to acquire Credit Karma. Credit Karma has over 100 million registered users; 37 million are active monthly users. They check their credit scores; shop for credit cards, loans; they file their taxes, and more. Intuit said they would pay $7.1 billion for Credit Karma, making this Intuit's biggest ever acquisition and one of the biggest in the category of fintech companies.
Blake Oliver: [00:13:23] And, of course, Intuit's best friend, ProPublica wrote an article about this, and the article is called, "TurboTax's Bid to Buy Free Tax Prep Competitor Might Violate Antitrust Law, Experts Say." So, the ProPublica reporter who's been on the whole Free File story went and found some antitrust law experts saying that - these are former Justice Department lawyers - talking about how the Justice Department could stop this merger from happening and actually mentions the time when this did happen back in 2011. The Justice Department stopped H&R Block from acquiring TaxAct, which, at the time, was offering a free product, and that was a threat to H&R Block and TurboTax.
David Leary: [00:14:14] I think they blocked Microsoft from buying Intuit at one time [crosstalk] going back to the '90s-
Blake Oliver: [00:14:20] Well, it always depends on the administration, of course. So, they could block it, but the question is, well, with the Trump administration in place, which is much more friendly to mergers, and acquisitions, and whatnot, maybe they won't. I was thinking about this, myself; is the acquisition of Credit Karma really going to reduce choice for consumers? I feel like it would be crazy if Intuit did what you suggested - one of the things it could do - which is to shut down the free-filing product for Credit Karma, the free tax product.
David Leary: [00:14:57] Well, the good thing is Intuit had their corporate earnings call this week.
Blake Oliver: [00:15:01] It came up, right?
David Leary: [00:15:01] I think before we jump into that, to the call, though, maybe touch on some other comments people have made about this. So, Credit Karma, they launched in 2013- I'm sorry, they launched 2007, but in 2013, they launched a personal finance product similar to Mint. Then they launched TurboTax for free. Really, a lot of this is they are a direct competitor and a disruptive threat. It actually says that in the article, here. Intuit had to make a play. They just had to. They were just being disrupted. I've heard this said by people on the street - Intuit's really good at taking a 45-percent growth company and PowerPointing them down to a 10-percent growth company, right? Intuit's a huge boat; it's a big boat to steer. There was another article on Bank Innovation; a couple of quotes in here. "While the short-term gains for each company are clear, there is a good chance that, in the long term, the deal leaves Credit Karma with a reduced brand equity and Intuit with $7 billion less. Neither have a ton to show for it." So, that was Peter Wannemacher, analyst at Forrester Research.
Blake Oliver: [00:16:02] It seems like a lot of people are kind of skeptical. The Wire Cutter published an article called, "How to Cancel Your Credit Karma Account if You Hate the Intuit Acquisition."
David Leary: [00:16:09] I think I saw that article fly by.
Blake Oliver: [00:16:11] I think there's a lot of people that still feel burned by the Mint acquisition and subsequent neglect of Mint; probably some of these reporters, themselves, who are using Mint. I just- I have that feeling. It did not build goodwill, and I don't mean in the accounting sense. Anyway ...
David Leary: [00:16:33] Yeah, if we look back at the Digital Insights acquisition that Intuit bought in 2007, and then, Mint, sometimes it just doesn't always work that way. A quote- this is Ron Shevlin. He is from Cornerstone Advisors. He said, "Intuit has a poor track record of integrating acquisitions and making one plus one equal three in the retail banking space."
Blake Oliver: [00:16:52] Yeah. So, maybe there is an argument for this not- this shouldn't be able to happen because TurboTax is super-dominant. I don't think I mentioned the stat, but they've got a two-thirds market share in tax prep, so there is a really big incentive to not grow the Credit Karma tax filing for free, or neglect it, or whatever; just the same way that Intuit had no incentive to grow Mint because they want to get all the people who would pay into a paid product - QuickBooks.
David Leary: [00:17:23] Did you jump into the earnings call?
Blake Oliver: [00:17:26] Yeah. It's quite a lot, so I scanned it. I searched for certain terms. I noticed that Free File only came up once. As usual, the analysts are not really that interested in that, but they were super-interested in the Credit Karma acquisition, obviously. When was this earnings call? It just happened.
David Leary: [00:17:43] I think it was Tuesday, or Monday. It was the day after they announced-
Blake Oliver: [00:17:47] You read it, right, David?
David Leary: [00:17:48] Yeah. I think a very loud hammer being hit about that these are going to stay separate. Credit Karma is gonna be a separate product. They just keep saying that over, and over again. They mentioned that this is not a tax play. This is a personal-finance play. I also- I don't know if you caught the video that Ken Lin - he's the, I guess, founder/CEO of Credit Karma - he did with Sasan, together?
Blake Oliver: [00:18:08] No, I didn't see that.
David Leary: [00:18:10] From Credit Karma- the vibe I was getting from him in this little video they put out on social media was almost ... Credit Karma's almost looking at this as a merger, and less of an acquisition, which I thought was kind of an interesting view on this. The one thing that really ... Reading between the lines on this and where the next steps are - and we've talked about this loosely, before - personal finances, for most people, doesn't happen. The people that do it, it's a hobby. I think I've said this before. There's a very small percentage of people that use apps, like Mint, or Quicken, or You Need a Budget.
Blake Oliver: [00:18:44] Mm-hmm.
David Leary: [00:18:44] Reading between the lines on comments that Sasan made and comments that Ken Lin made, I really could see some sort of product where - "Oh, hey, Credit Karma, Intuit, and Mint, here's access to my bank account. Here's access to all my loans and credit cards. Here's access to everything financial that I have. You and your bots are just gonna manually do stuff for me- or automatically. If there's the lower credit card, you're just gonna close this credit card, open that one, and move my stuff over. There's a better loan for my boat? You're gonna go and move that loan ..." to where you're not gonna do ... You won't do any personal-finance decisions-
Blake Oliver: [00:19:20] It's like a personal-finance concierge is the vision.
David Leary: [00:19:24] Exactly. The best analogy is there's those new investment platforms, I think, like Betterment, where there's just bots moving your portfolio around.
Blake Oliver: [00:19:36] Yeah, it automatically rebalances your portfolio; super-easy to use. Automated investing; robo-investing, I think they call it.
David Leary: [00:19:42] Basically, they want to eliminate all this friction. Then, on the other side, they get to play middleman with the banks because the banks, they might do a $100 million ad campaign, and 80 percent of that money basically brings in people that'll never qualify for the loan. So, the banks get to do targeted marketing and actually reach people that's the right fit for that financial product or service.
Blake Oliver: [00:20:04] You know, a lot of the stuff that comes out in these types of mergers tends to be very fluffy, and you wonder if it's really ever gonna happen. But I really do think that having this much information on people is gonna be super-valuable to Intuit. I think it's a really, really smart acquisition.
David Leary: [00:20:22] Sasan mentions that, currently, their Consumer Finance division represented a $29 billion total adjustable market. After they acquire Credit Karma, it expands it from $29 billion to $57 billion.
Blake Oliver: [00:20:35] Some other numbers that I spotted. Second-quarter revenue growth was 13 percent, but their Online Ecosystem Revenue growth, which includes QuickBooks Online, was 35 percent, beating their target of 30 percent. So, we're continuing to see online cloud accounting grow between 30 and 40 percent across all of these enterprise-sized companies. QuickBooks Online Advanced, 75 percent of current QuickBooks Online Advanced customers upgraded from their existing QBO product. So, it's working. They are getting QBO customers to pay more for almost the same thing; some minor features. We'll talk about that when we get to the app updates.
[00:21:18] The Consumer Group, which includes TurboTax, I believe, only had growth of eight percent; so lower than their overall growth, which kind of gives credence to the rationale for acquiring Credit Karma - to add more of that consumer type of options. Then, International online revenue grew 60 percent. Finally, the last one is Desktop Ecosystem. They actually mentioned this separately. The Desktop Ecosystem revenue was up one percent in the second quarter; not declining. QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise revenue grew at a double-digit pace, they said. So, does that mean more than 10 percent? It has to- a double-digit pace, right? That's crazy!
David Leary: [00:21:58] Well, they probably ... I think they can always do that because they sunset the one that's three years old. Let's say you bought ... I don't even know what the current prices are for QuickBooks Desktop, but let's say three years ago, you bought QuickBooks Desktop for $299, and now it's getting sunsetted this year. It'd probably cost you $600 to re-up, right, so [crosstalk] You always have somebody that's three years old now has to buy a product for more expensive. So, you're always gonna keep growing at 10 percent because they keep raising the price 10 percent.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:23] Interesting. So, I thought that they got rid of the buy-it-once licensing. Now you have to subscribe, right, for all the new versions?
David Leary: [00:22:34] I don't know.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:34] It's all subscription. So, it's a Desktop program, but it's subscription-based now, I think.
David Leary: [00:22:38] I think so, yeah, which also probably helps that revenue number move.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:41] Yeah. So, it's amazing. That continues to grow. So, really good results from Intuit.
David Leary: [00:22:46] Unfortunately, most of the transcript was all Credit Karma, but there was a comment about TurboTax Live, and QuickBooks Live.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:54] Okay.
David Leary: [00:22:54] So, TurboTax Live- I'm just gonna read the quote from Sasan: "We're very pleased with the results that we're seeing, and it's in line with what we would expect through this early part of the season ... I would just remind that we are very early in our journey in going after this $20 billion market for transforming the assisted marketplace that we expect continued accelerated growth from TurboTax Live." So, it's not slowing down. I think they said it grew 3x last year. We've never seen real numbers about TurboTax Live-
Blake Oliver: [00:23:19] Yep, it's still too small.
David Leary: [00:23:20] Then, their comment on QuickBooks Live was: "We remain encouraged by our early results with QuickBooks Live - part of our second big bet to connect people to experts, opening access to a $10 billion bookkeeping opportunity." So, you got this $20 billion in TurboTax Live Assisted. You got $10 billion with QuickBooks Live. You've got the Consumer Finance at $57 billion. Intuit is not messing around. They're going for some serious slices of pie here on multiple fronts.
[00:23:44] One thing, though, I think could be fun for our listeners, I was thinking - Intuit could have spent that $7 billion on something else. I'm thinking, what kind of cloud-app acquisitions, or small business-type acquisitions, and in our world, right? Because we talk a lot more about small business, accounting, bookkeeping; not so much personal finances. So, I would love for listeners to tweet at us and let us know who they think they should have bought. I have some thoughts-
Blake Oliver: [00:24:10] I wanna hear that because what could Intuit have bought for $7 billion other than Credit Karma?
David Leary: [00:24:17] They could've bought, for example, Brex, or Divvy, or Bento; to where, now, Intuit has a credit card. They could have bought Ceterus; somebody that's already been building a very successful QuickBooks Live-type model. Not just they could've bought that, or that; they could have bought 30 companies.
Blake Oliver: [00:24:38] They could've bought the whole-
David Leary: [00:24:39] Ecosystem.
Blake Oliver: [00:24:40] They could have bought the whole Xero ecosystem.
David Leary: [00:24:42] Right? They could've bought niche apps. They could've bought Restaurant365. There is a lot of plays they could have done. Now, obviously, I'm not saying you could successfully integrate 40 companies all together, but I'd love to hear what other people think Intuit should've spent that $7 billion on.
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Blake Oliver: [00:26:08] I think this is a great transition point into ... We've already gotten into it, but app news. Let's talk app news.
David Leary: [00:26:12] Okay.
Blake Oliver: [00:26:12] Here's another app that Intuit could have bought - Karbon - but instead ,they have inked a partnership to integrate Karbon deeply with Intuit ProConnect for their practice-management solution. This was an announcement that went out over the wires. I caught the version on AccountingWEB; Intuit ProConnect, for tax year 2020, will have their practice-management solution powered by Karbon. There's not a ton about how the integration will work, but it says in the article, "After creating an account, tax professionals can now seamlessly navigate from Intuit Practice Management to Intuit ProConnect Tax Online and Lacerte to confidently scope work, automate data collection, scale client onboarding, anticipate bottlenecks, and automate recurring work. There'll be deep links from Karbon into the Intuit tax products.
David Leary: [00:27:12] Well, it looks like the Intuit Pro Series side of the fence ... Because it's a little bit more focused at tax firms, right? But they've been on this partnership march. I noticed- I think they announced, a few weeks back - we talked - with DocuSign. They're bringing in these third-party tools in almost like a suite. It's not super-clear ... There's press releases like this, but it's not really clear - what is the offering? How does this work? How are they all tied together? - but there's some march happening, and we're gonna have to keep watching this.
Blake Oliver: [00:27:40] Really, really big news for Karbon, because to be this deeply integrated with a tax product, that's kind of what Canopy was- that's what Canopy was trying to build. They were going at it the other way, trying to build their own tax product. I think this is smart because instead of Intuit trying to build a practice-management product, which is gonna suck, most likely, because they're a tax software ... Now, they're just partnering with guys who know how to do it.
[00:28:05] What else do we have in the world of app news? I've got a story about our European challenger bank, Revolut. They raised $500 million in funding in a round led by TCV. You introduced me to Revolut, a number of episodes ago. They're one of these app-based banks that started in Europe. They're big there. No physical branches. The app includes crypto, and stock trading. They're looking to get a UK banking license; right now, they have a Lithuanian one-
David Leary: [00:28:36] And they're headed for The States, as well [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: [00:28:38] Yes, they want to expand, with this money, into the U.S., so that's why this matters to our listeners in The States.
David Leary: [00:28:43] They're not business-focused, though. It's consumer banking, but they are ... My understanding is the people that use them, love them, and it's a very, like, "Hey, look what I'm using!" Almost like in the early days of iPhone, like, "Check out this app," and that person would be like, "That's great. I'm gonna put the app on my phone." People are doing that with their bank.
Blake Oliver: [00:29:01] The quote from the founder and CEO, Nik Storonsky, is: "We're on a mission to build a global financial platform - a single app where our customers can manage all of their daily finances. This investment demonstrates investor confidence in our business model." So, they're gonna try and get a U.S. banking license in 2020 and expand here.
[00:29:21] Speaking of online banks, are you familiar with the site, quicksprout.com, Neil Patel? Quicksprout is his site, and he's a marketing genius, so I was really surprised when I saw an article on his blog called: "Best Online Business Banking for 2020." This must be some sort of SEO play. It's actually a pretty good article because it rounds up 10 online business-banking solutions, a lot that I'd never heard of, and I'm wondering if you've heard of these, David? I'm not gonna go through the whole list, but the two that stuck out to me were Novo-
David Leary: [00:29:53] Yep, familiar with them.
Blake Oliver: [00:29:55] It says that Novo integrates with business tools that you're already using, like Slack, Zero, and Zapier. Is this a bank that integrates with Zapier? That's pretty cool. I've never heard of anything like that. I'm actually searching for the integration, right now, to see what you can actually do with Zapier, and Novo. Apparently, when a new transaction is added- oh, it has one trigger, that's it. So, when a new transaction is added, you can trigger something in Zapier. Well, that's kinda cool.
David Leary: [00:30:23] The apps who do this with QuickBooks - I'm sure, with Xero, as well - you do the bare minimum, so you can say it works with QuickBooks. People do the bare minimum with Zapier, so they can be like, "Connects to 1,500 apps!" If you're gonna integrate with Zapier, people, just do it right. C'mon! C'mon!
Blake Oliver: [00:30:37] The other one in this article that has integrations that is mentioned is Azlo? A-Z-L-O. It says, "If you're a freelancer launching a startup, Azlo is a top online exclusive business bank to consider." So, another one of those solutions that has no monthly fees, no overdraft fees, no minimum balance requirements, et cetera. Quicksprout says, "Azlo integrates with business tools, like Square, Stripe, and QuickBooks."
David Leary: [00:31:04] A lot of these newer banks, too, are - when they're small business-focused, like we've talked about before - they're building in the GL-level [crosstalk] functionality, so you never have to leave the bank, or leave the app. Some of the other ones I know a lot of people in our industry are starting to ... Relay's out there. We actually have used Relay for the podcast.
Blake Oliver: [00:31:22] Oh, yeah.
David Leary: [00:31:22] Because I wanted to spin up a second bank account. Relay has- they're solving ... All these banks are starting- I think the ones that are smart are solving the accountant's use case. You can invite a second user; I was able to spin up a bank account really easily online - a secondary bank account - and invite you. It was pretty convenient.
Blake Oliver: [00:31:43] Yes. It's a good experience. So, what's new in QuickBooks Online? I mentioned Intuit has 75 percent of the users on QuickBooks Online Advanced came from an upgrade; so what features do you get when you upgrade? Well, they're continuing to add batch-transaction functionality. So, now you can enter batch bills in QBO Advanced; you can copy/paste from Excel into the batch transactions panel; that's pretty cool. And you can batch select online payments and apply them to invoices.
David Leary: [00:32:14] So, it sounds less like, "Hey, we're just adding more functions to it," and more of, "We're adding ways for you to use it in high volume."
Blake Oliver: [00:32:22] They also mentioned they now have AI-powered suggestions for payment-due reminders. So, when you select the dropdown to create a reminder workflow, it will suggest high-priority-reminder clients first. I'd have to actually see it to know what that means, but that's kind of a neat use of AI to figure out which clients you should remind first because they owe you. The closing of the blog post is my favorite. It says, "That's all for now. Until next time, as always, keep your feet on the ground and your books in the cloud."
David Leary: [00:32:54] Oh, boy. That could easily be our podcast tagline [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: [00:32:56] Keep your feet on the ground and your books in the cloud!
David Leary: [00:33:04] That could be our episode title. Quickly, more Intuit news - Misty Megia, she headed up Intuit ProAdvisor and Education programs at Intuit since 2017. She is stepping down and leaving the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program. She's well-loved; she's been in our industry for a long time. She actually was with The Sleeter Group at one time, and then moved to- she was at CPA Academy. Then she was at TSheets, and then joined Intuit because of the TSheets acquisition. So, she's been really heavily involved in our space. She wrote a nice blog post, but it doesn't really hint - any hint - of where she's going next.
Blake Oliver: [00:33:38] Well, maybe it's gonna be Practice Ignition just like everybody else seems to be joining.
David Leary: [00:33:44] If you're a massive brand, it feels like, in this industry, you become a Practice Ignition employee. That's the way it has been the last four to six weeks, that's for sure- the announcements they've been making.
Blake Oliver: [00:33:55] Well, I've got two more app updates. That's it.
David Leary: [00:33:58] I have one about Pilot. I don't know if you wanna chat about them.
Blake Oliver: [00:34:02] Let's talk about Pilot. Yeah, that's one of mine.
David Leary: [00:34:05] So, my first question is, in this article about Pilot, in their press release, there's a sentence, and I would like you, being the accountant, to explain to me in layman's terms what this means.
Blake Oliver: [00:34:18] Okay.
David Leary: [00:34:18] There's a sentence here that says, "Pilot currently handles the bookkeeping for more than 840 million in run-rate revenue." What does that mean?
Blake Oliver: [00:34:28] Run rate is annualized- well, I guess it can be however you want ... What's best way to describe it? You're taking revenue and saying it's this much per month. So, they don't necessarily manage- they said $840 million in run-rate revenue?
David Leary: [00:34:49] Yes.
Blake Oliver: [00:34:49] So, maybe they're taking their current clients, figuring out how much revenue they have monthly, and then annualizing it all.
David Leary: [00:34:54] Okay, so this is not what their making in revenue; this is like, "All our clients are moving this much money around ..."
Blake Oliver: [00:35:00] It would have to be, right? That's my guess.
David Leary: [00:35:04] Okay, so this is just a vanity metric for somebody who's not paying attention. They're gonna be like, "Pilot's doing $840 million a year now"?
Blake Oliver: [00:35:12] Yeah. That's what you do ... Like you say, as a bookkeeping service, "We are categorizing $100 million of transactions per month," or something like that. That's a run rate.
David Leary: [00:35:22] All right ... It's completely out of context. It has nothing to do with the article. They just shoved it in there. So, if somebody's scanning it, they're just gonna assume Pilot must be doing $840 million in revenue.
Blake Oliver: [00:35:32] Yeah.
David Leary: [00:35:32] Anyway, the article does talk about what they've announced. So, they're adding ... Pilot - we've talked about it before - they're in that same QuickBooks Live, Botkeeper, Ceterus, ScaleFactor - Bookkeeping as a Service, or like I like to say, an accounting firm with engineers under roof. They're in that same space. They've been well-funded. They've taken a $40 million Series-B in 2019, so they're really heading up that ladder.
[00:35:54] They're adding three more services now. One - R&D tax credits; they'll help people track down those tax credits. I know that there's third-party software now that actually does this. I actually talked to one of the apps once, and they do it on a commission-type structure. So, the more tax credits they help you gain, the higher it costs to use that SaaS software. I thought it was an interesting model. They're gonna do CFO services, and then, they're adding- they just say extended services. Some of it might be custom reports; maybe they're doing some- they'll actually send out your invoices for you. Just more bookkeeping services that you might need that a different client may not need.
Blake Oliver: [00:36:34] Beyond bookkeeping, right? Now, it's full-stack accounting- bookkeeping, accounting, controllership, CFO. They're gonna do everything, which makes a lot of sense because why would you leave money on the table?
David Leary: [00:36:44] That is my question. Is this a play because, "Oh, we're doing the bookkeeping services so well, we're ready to expand into these other services ..." or are we seeing another possible pivot here, the same way we saw ScaleFactor, two weeks ago?
Blake Oliver: [00:36:58] Yeah.
David Leary: [00:36:58] Is this model harder than any of us realize?
Blake Oliver: [00:37:04] We don't know what's going on at any of these companies ... My company, Cloudsourced Accounting, that was our original business plan was we were gonna do what these companies do, and we realized, it's really hard. You can do it. You can grow, but you're gonna grow a lot slower than a software company. It's a grind. I think these guys are realizing that. It's a grind. It's hard. inDinero is not growing at an exponential pace. I can pretty much guarantee you that; there's just no way. Nobody has ever figured out how to take a service business, like accounting, or bookkeeping and get SaaS metrics out of it. It's slow. But it's very rewarding, and it's a great business, once you have it, because customers are so sticky. It lasts forever. It just takes a different mentality.
David Leary: [00:37:49] [inaudible] if you're having to do services, and having humans do services inside your company, you might as well try to add on human services that make a lot more money, like CFO services.
Blake Oliver: [00:37:59] You might as well because the number of clients actually increases the complexity. It's not like when you have a consumer SaaS business ... QuickBooks Online can have millions, and millions of people paying $30 a month, and they can successfully support those people with chat support, and phone support, and whatever. But an accounting firm, you actually want to have as few clients as you can and charge them the most you can. You wanna be doing as many things as you can for a small number of clients. That's the way you build a profitable business, generally.
[00:38:31] So, one last thing that I have here, which ... I don't know how big a deal this is, but I think it was right after we recorded, or maybe just before, last week, somebody sent us the status page for Drake Software, saying that Drake Hosted, the official hosting for the Drake Tax product had been down for two days. I was just curious ... I hadn't heard anything online, but I was just curious, and I went over to their status page this morning, a week later; it looks like they are still continuing to fix it.
[00:39:07] It's got a yellow 'Performance Issues' icon next to Drake Hosted, and it says, under Details, "We are continuing our phased approach to bringing programs and files back online." So, yet another hosting provider going down - we don't know why - during a critical time of year. I guess my takeaway from that is backup all your stuff, and have a contingency plan, and don't rely on your host to get you back online because it's gonna take like two weeks.
David Leary: [00:39:35] Yeah, this just continues to happen, and I think it's because they're targets.
Blake Oliver: [00:39:39] It's not that they can't recover. It's just that it takes a long time to load up all those files again. That's one thing that we don't have, as accountants during tax season, is a lot of time. So, have all the files backed up locally so that you can go and get to work if you need to. That's it for app news; at least that's all I've got.
David Leary: [00:39:57] I just have one article left. Xero had their Boss Insights 2020 Report, out of Australia.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:04] Wait - what is it called?
David Leary: [00:40:04] It's called Xero Boss Insights 2020.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:06] Like 'boss,' as in my boss at work?
David Leary: [00:40:10] Yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:11] Well, tell me what the- maybe it'll make sense, if you tell me what this is.
David Leary: [00:40:14] Actually, it's just the headline- I think it's worth calling out. Two-thirds of net Australian businesses created in the past decade were founded by women, according to a new Xero report. I just thought that was worth noting-
Blake Oliver: [00:40:25] Say that stat again-
David Leary: [00:40:25] Two-thirds of net Australian businesses created in the past decade were founded by women, according to a new Xero report.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:35] That's amazing.
David Leary: [00:40:35] So, men are still outnumbering women in business ownership, but the gap's closing.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:41] Well, let's talk about Fortnite, David. Your son- how old is your son?
David Leary: [00:40:45] One's gonna be 11; one's gonna be 13.
Blake Oliver: [00:40:49] They're really into Fortnite, right?
David Leary: [00:40:51] Yes. I don't know if you can hear the enthusiasm in my voice ...
Blake Oliver: [00:40:54] How much Fortnite do they play? I'm just curious.
David Leary: [00:40:59] More than I'm comfortable with.
Blake Oliver: [00:41:00] More than you're comfortable with?
David Leary: [00:41:00] It is a battle. That's for sure.
Blake Oliver: [00:41:02] Do they buy stuff in Fortnite?
David Leary: [00:41:05] Oh, yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:41:06] I think the virtual currency in Fortnite is called the V-Bucks. How many V-Bucks have you paid for?
David Leary: [00:41:12] A lot.
Blake Oliver: [00:41:12] Too many?
David Leary: [00:41:13] We've talked about this, these micropayments ... They add up after a while.
Blake Oliver: [00:41:17] So, V-Bucks appeared on the IRS website recently, and then it suddenly disappeared. Somebody at CNN was perusing the IRS website page for virtual currency transactions, which is getting attention because the 1040 form has a question on it. Have you heard about this question? Have you done your taxes, David?
David Leary: [00:41:39] It's the "Do I own Bitcoin" question, right?
Blake Oliver: [00:41:43] So, the question is- it's right at the top. It says, "At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?" That's a big deal because the IRS, thus far, has not actually asked, on the tax forms, yes or no to this. They haven't posed this question to taxpayers. So, people who own virtual currency, like Bitcoin in particular, who haven't reported it, now, are wondering what they should do. I've been seeing articles online, like, "Do I answer yes? Do I answer no? Is the IRS gonna ... Is something bad gonna happen to me if I lie?" The answer is yes. If you answer no to this and you do own virtual currency, that is a crime. The IRS can come after you for that. So, that's a problem, and it's creating issues for tax preparers, who then have to ask this question of their clients and deal with clients lying, or not being forthcoming, and all that stuff.
[00:42:43] The tie-in to virtual currency in video games is that, back in October, the IRS website said- it mentioned not only Bitcoin, but also Fortnite's V-Bucks on there as examples of virtual currency. So, somebody connected the dots and said, "Wait, so the 1040 form is asking me if I bought any virtual currency, and then they're listing Fortnite V-Bucks and some other virtual currencies in video games on their website as virtual currencies. So, if my kids have virtual currency, I might have to answer yes to this even though I don't own any Bitcoin."
David Leary: [00:43:21] I thought they came out with clarification about this now.
Blake Oliver: [00:43:25] That's why I'm laying the groundwork for that.
David Leary: [00:43:28] Okay.
Blake Oliver: [00:43:28] But it's not clarification, really ... I mean, sort of. After this story dropped, the IRS scrubbed that from the page. They removed all the references to the video-game virtual currencies, and it just was Bitcoin is the only example on there. But then people were still confused because the way the tax code works, unless something is specifically exempted, then it is included in income. So, just because the IRS removed the reference specifically to V-Bucks doesn't mean that it still doesn't count. The IRS rules- the guidance they've issued is that all virtual currencies are property that's taxable. So, just because they removed it for their website doesn't mean that you still don't have to answer yes to this question, technically.
[00:44:18] So, finally, the Commissioner of the IRS made a statement; addressed this issue, but it's still not- this still doesn't completely clear up everything. I'll read the quote here; here's the IRS's full statement: "The IRS recognizes that the language on our page potentially caused concern for some taxpayers. We have changed the language in order to lessen any confusion. Transacting in virtual currencies as part of a game that do not leave the game environment (virtual currencies that are not convertible) would not require a taxpayer to indicate this on their tax return."
[00:44:50] So, the IRS is now saying one thing, but the law technically says another thing. They're offering this statement that supposedly clarifies things, but it's not ... So, basically, the answer is even if you own virtual currencies in a video game, you can say no- you can answer no to this question, according to the IRS, and they're not gonna go after you, but technically they could, and that could be a lie. It's just all very confusing, and it just points to the fact that the IRS really doesn't know what they're doing on virtual currency yet. We really need a better way to account for it in the tax code.
David Leary: [00:45:25] I got nothing.
Blake Oliver: [00:45:29] So, one more tax-related story, since we're in tax season. I spotted this in The Wall Street Journal. The headline is: "AI Comes to the Tax Code." It's all about how tax authorities around the world, including the IRS, are leveraging artificial intelligence to identify taxpayers who are not paying enough tax or who are avoiding tax. Some examples - in Brazil, the customs agency is detecting anomalies using AI, and it prompts more than 30 percent of all inspections. Canada, next month, is launching Charlie the Chatbot, an automated system that will respond to inquiries about tax filing. The IRS, meanwhile, is designing machine-built graphs to plot the relationships among participants in business deals, giving auditors a new tool to analyze transactions and detect tax avoidance. The agency is using artificial intelligence to study notes that agency employees take when fielding questions from taxpayers and testing which combinations of formal notices and contexts are most likely to get a taxpayer who owes money to send a check.
[00:46:36] There's a quote from the IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, from a conference on artificial intelligence this week at the University of California, Irvine. He said, regarding the IRS is now gonna go after more high-income individuals who didn't file tax returns, he said, "How do you think we found these people? It wasn't on filed returns. These are non-filers. There is a heat map that says where there are concentrations of these people. We have sufficient data on these people." Apparently, the criminal investigations unit is using Palantir Technologies, the data-mining firm, to identify potential fraud cases. They have a contract with Palantir, which- they're this super-secretive agency that contracts with the government. There's a rumor online that they helped find Osama bin Laden, Palantir.
David Leary: [00:47:21] Wow.
Blake Oliver: [00:47:22] There's another quote from the IRS Commissioner. He said, "If I get a first name and a cellphone number, you'd be shocked how much information Palantir can provide." So, get ready because the IRS is using the scariest-
David Leary: [00:47:37] Government agency ...
Blake Oliver: [00:47:38] -semi-government data-mining agency to identify tax avoidance. That's pretty cool high-tech stuff going on.
David Leary: [00:47:50] We'll get through this next week [crosstalk] low-tech.
Blake Oliver: [00:47:51] We've got a few more minutes. I got one more. One more-
David Leary: [00:47:55] All right.
Blake Oliver: [00:47:55] The Journal of Accountancy had a story about how accounting-profession leaders called for action against climate change. On Tuesday, February 25, 14 accounting bodies representing 2.5 million members worldwide, which includes the AICPA, CPA, Canada, and CPA Australia, published a call to action urging accounting professionals to put sustainability in the fight against climate change at the forefront of their work.
[00:48:24] Then, I read the statement, and there's no actual specific recommendations for how accountants can help fight against climate change. The best it gets is that they're encouraging us to integrate climate-change risk into organizational strategy, finance operations, and communications; support sustainable decision-making, and provide sound advice, and services.
David Leary: [00:48:49] Great. The AICPA is distracting accountants again, when they should be telling accountants, "Your most important thing to do is two-factor authentication, and stop clicking links, and stop getting ransomwared. That's what they need to ... Let's get over that hurdle first, then worry about saving the world.
Blake Oliver: [00:49:05] Yeah, I haven't heard a statement from the AICPA on ransomware, or, like you said, on business-email compromise, recently. I have a specific recommendation that the AICPA could make to accountants.
David Leary: [00:49:18] What's that?
Blake Oliver: [00:49:19] How about promoting cloud accounting to enable remote work so that people aren't commuting to the office every day? That would do a heck of a lot, if we had millions of accountants that weren't going to the office every day; driving their cars [crosstalk]
David Leary: [00:49:34] Ah, Work-from-Home Wednesday for accountants.
Blake Oliver: [00:49:37] Yeah, and also they're not gonna get coronavirus. I think we should start this. We should start a climate-change initiative that is tied to remote work.
David Leary: [00:49:47] There's no global warming in Accounting Land.
Blake Oliver: [00:49:51] There's also no remote work in Accounting Land. You gotta go to the office, and you gotta be the first to get there, and the last to leave, because that is what proves that you are the hardest worker in Accounting Land. That's all I've got for this week, David.
David Leary: [00:50:05] I think that's a wrap. We did get a review. Should we read the review?
Blake Oliver: [00:50:08] Oh, yeah! Let's read that review.
David Leary: [00:50:15] This review is on iTunes. It is five stars. "Go To Source for Accounting News - I don’t know if it's just me, but I always get a little giddy when a new Cloud Accounting Podcast shows up in my podcast feed. Blake and David do a great job keeping me up to date on what is going on in the industry and doing it in an entertaining way. Keep up the great work gents! Josh Lance."
Blake Oliver: [00:50:37] Awesome! Thank you, Josh! That is really great to hear. I got some great feedback this week on LinkedIn from folks connecting with me. It is so great to hear from our listeners, our new listeners. If you're a longtime listener and you really liked a story, let us know. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver. You can email me at email@example.com. How about you, David?
David Leary: [00:51:00] I'm @DavidLeary on Twitter, and you can find me- I'm David Leary on LinkedIn, as well. I would love to hear what you think Intuit should've spent $7.1 billion on.
Blake Oliver: [00:51:12] Actually, David, I wanna try something new this week I set up a Google Voice number for The Cloud Accounting Podcast. If you want to leave us a voicemail, we might play it on the air. Tell us what you think, especially about David's question, but it could be about anything on the show. Here's the number. It's (202) 695-1040. You like what I did there, David?
David Leary: [00:51:37] Ah, sneaky!
Blake Oliver: [00:51:37] (202) 695-1040. Leave us a message and tell us about something you learned; maybe a story we missed; your thoughts on any of our stories. We will take listen to that and maybe you'll hear yourself on the next episode of The Cloud Accounting Podcast.
David Leary: [00:51:56] I don't know how to check my voicemail on my own phone. Is there a way for me to easily check these voicemails as they come in, or are we setting some sort of expectations, like, "Hey, leave us messages; we may never get to them ..."?
Blake Oliver: [00:52:07] Well, no, Google Voice is great. Have you not used Google Voice, David?
David Leary: [00:52:09] No!
Blake Oliver: [00:52:10] It converts the voicemail into an mp3 file and then emails it to you.
David Leary: [00:52:15] Ah, so I could get a feed, like a podcast player and just get a feed of these as they come in.
Blake Oliver: [00:52:20] Yeah. So, I'm gonna have them forward to both of us, and we'll get to listen to them.
David Leary: [00:52:23] Perfect.
Blake Oliver: [00:52:24] Until next week, David, have a ... What was that, that blogpost said?
David Leary: [00:52:29] Keep your feet on the ground, and your accounting [crosstalk] books in the cloud.
Blake Oliver: [00:52:36] And your books in the cloud!
David Leary: [00:52:36] Oh boy ...
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