Sage Software goes on acquisition binge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ron Verni, the CEO of Sage Software, pulled the trigger on a couple of deals that surprised the more than 3,500 attendees at its Insights Partner Conference, held here. Sage acquired Master Builder from rival Intuit Inc., along with Savannah, Ga.-based Contractor Anywhere Inc. The purchase price for both deals was not disclosed.

Both additions were made to boost the company’s construction and real estate software portfolio.

Currently, Sage customers were unable to move from entry-level Peachtree small business accounting systems to the higher end construction-specific Timberline product by Sage.

“It allows us to fill in the gap,” said Verni.

Master Builder, which was originally developed back in 1980 by Sebastopol, Calif.-based OMware Inc., has more than 6,000 customers. Intuit acquired OMware in 2001 and has operated it as Intuit’s Construction Business Solutions.

“I’ll admit they were giving us a hard time and as, we always do, we decided to buy it,” Verni said.

Randy Johnson, executive vice-president of K2 Enterprises, a professional education and consulting firm in Hammond, La., said one of the reasons for Sage acquiring a key product from a rival was that Master Builder was channel-based product and Intuit did not have the mechanics to run it as a channel business.

“History is repeating itself here. This is no different than when Sage acquired Accountmate from Softline. It is all about the technology that Sage wanted. And Intuit wanted the business logic of a construction company. They did not want to maintain a separate business. They wanted to do QuickBooks Construction incorporating the Master Builder (technology) logic inside the product,” Johnson said.

Sage also announced Timberline Office – Version 9.3 to boost its construction and real estate portfolio. The product will be released this spring. The new update streamlines setup and workflow functions for quicker implementation.

Act! by Sage will also be integrated into the construction and real estate product line. The company released Act! by Sage Premium for Real Estate as a vertical industry solution. The package enables residential real estate professionals with industry-specific tools to help cultivate referrals, marketing and selling.

Sage also acquired Verus Financial Management Inc. from Financial Technology Ventures for US$325 million, paid in cash. Verus is a merchant services provider that supports retail, business-to-business and e-commerce by processing customer transactions through credit cards, debit cards and cheques.

Verni characterized the acquisition as an expansion of the company’s business management solutions. He believes that SMBs want more automation of its business processes. “Verus processes credit cards, debit card and cheque transactions. This is a natural extension to what we do,” he said.

Sage is planning for integration of Verus for credit card and other payment processing with Sage MAS 90 ERP and Accpac ERP business management systems.

Verni also announced new products for SMBs, human resources and CRM. They are: Sage Abra eRecruiter, Abra HRMS, Sage CRM SalesLogix Version 7, Peachtree by Sage – Quantum Edition, MAS 90 Version 4.2, Accpac ERP 5.4, Sage Pro ERP 7.4, MAS 500 Warehouse Automation, Sage PFW ERP, Sage TimeSheet – MAS 90 Edition, Sage MIP Fund Accounting 8.0, Sage Fundraising 50 Version 7, and Sage Fundraising 100 Version 5.0.

The company also made a Canadian specific launch with Fixed Asset Management: Sage FAS Canada 2006. To be released this summer, the product will include new asset inventory solution as well as integration to FAS CIP Accounting for construction-in-progress accounting. FAS Compliance Advisor will provide Sarbanes-Oxley documentation related to fixed asset management.

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