A service to create fake bank statements, AICPA backs bill adding accounting STEM education, security breaches at MailChimp and Block, Fast pulls the plug, and more
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What is Cloud Accounting Podcast?
The Cloud Accounting Podcast is the #1 accounting and bookkeeping podcast in the world! Join Blake Oliver and David Leary at the intersection of accounting and technology for a weekly news roundup, plus interviews with industry leaders.
[00:00:00] Thank you to our sponsor, OnPay
David Leary: OnPay is an easy-to-use, full-service payroll and HR app that is the right fit for all your clients, whether they have just one or 500 employees, to stay organized, to save time and get compliant. If you're wondering why OnPay is so great, it's because it was built by payroll experts with over 30 years of payroll experience, and has the most robust and customizable QuickBooks Online and Xero integrations of any payroll provider. Stay tuned to hear more from our sponsor, OnPay, later in the episode.
[00:00:29] Episode preview
Blake: But you know how I feel about these attempts to improve the pipeline at the education level in high school and college. It's not going to happen fast enough. 75 percent of CPAs are eligible to retire in like 10 years. So, there's just not time.
David: And K through 12, this is going to be, yeah.
Blake: Yeah. I mean, you know, this is too little too late. My feeling is we need to stop people from leaving, right? A lot of people are leaving the profession, especially diverse candidates. They're leaving due to a lack of inclusion, perceived lack of equitable treatment inclusion. And we also don't make it really easy for people to join the profession.
David Leary: Coming to you weekly from the OnPay recording studio, this is The Cloud Accounting Podcast.
Blake: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David: And I'm David Leary.
Blake: Happy Friday to you.
David: Yeah. Friday. Trying something new, going back to the olden days when we recorded on Fridays.
Blake: Yes. I am looking forward to having my whole weekend available. I really shouldn't be saying this, though. We shouldn't be talking about having our weekends because it is tax season. And so, many people are working Saturdays, Sundays, especially since there's like 10 days left until the deadline.
So, to all of you who are sitting in your offices now, listening, we congratulate you on your studiousness, on your work ethic. Well done. Keep at it. You can do it. I don't know. I'm not very good at encouraging people.
David: It's less than two days by the time they get this episode and listen. It's going to be the last- even in the last 48 hours, possibly, or you're listening the day after, so congratulations.
Blake: That’s true. Congratulations.
David: If you're getting to that point.
Blake: You made it. Woohoo! It’s over!
[00:02:19] David is a free agent
Blake: David, we have to talk about you. You are a free agent again. And now, I'm starting to wonder- I'm connecting things because you were down in Rocky Point, Mexico, on vacation, and then you were talking about the condos in Rocky Point.
I mean, are you out? Are you going to retire down to Rocky Point?
David: [CROSSTALK] I’m checking out. No, no, no, nothing like that. Nothing crazy like that, no. No. Yeah, the news is I'm actually stepping down at Melio as a W2 employee, and just turning in- just going to be a part-time advisor. Some of it's a home-work-life balance thing. Some of it is I grew the team, right?
I built a team of people that love accountants, and it’s kind of in good hands and there's a fine line of me being in the weeds too much. It's probably not a good use of my time to be in meetings about a Salesforce field.
Blake: Yeah, yeah.
David: It’s probably better for me to step back and think of like, “Oh, what is the next year, two years look for Melio, right? How do I contribute to that? How do I partake in those transactions or- transactions, sorry, those conversations?” But it's hard to do that when you're in the weeds, right?
Blake: You've been in accounting so long. You think of conversations as transactions. Well, congratulations. So, do you know what you're gonna do next?
David: No, not entirely. I'm just trying to get things a little bit more under control, trying to reassess my calendar, reassess time. You know, trying to- I mean, I’m approaching 50 years old. I'm trying to figure out like, what does my working life look like the next half a decade? Or half a decade, I mean, next 15 years, decade and a half, you know?
Blake: Okay. So, David's going to purchase a motorcycle and go on a midlife crisis, cross-country journey. Come see me when you do.
David: I don't know about that. It's not going to be that kind of a sabbatical, but.
Blake: You can go to Sedona and you can get in touch with yourself. That's another option.
David: I could do that. I could do that.
Blake: Figure out where you're going to do next [CROSSTALK].
David: [CROSSTALK] been doing now that I've been having a hip problem, sciatic nerve hip problems in both legs. And so, I've been going to physical therapy like three days a week and getting needles shoved in me. It's kind of cool. Actually, I'm starting to like it.
Blake: So, you know, I'm 38 and I'm starting to have like medical stuff. I've been healthy my whole life. And now all of a sudden, you know, it's like you get older and you start to have something you need to get looked at. So, for the first time in my life, I am interacting with the medical world.
Now, I know- I know it's a challenge. And I know it is because my son has cochlear implants. So, we went through this whole process to get him approved for all that, and go through insurance and everything. And it was a big thing, but like personally, I've never had this experience of like, what is it like to actually try to go to a specialist office and get an appointment?
And so, I had that experience myself, actually going in there and doing it. And I got to say that after seeing just how bad it is to get an appointment with a doctor, to get your test results, to go on their horrible practice management software-
David: Yeah, portal thing. You have to join these portals just to see the tests.
Blake: Oh, the portals are terrible. Terrible. It makes me feel a lot better about us as accountants, where we're at, you know? I mean, you have no idea. I got an invite to go onto this portal for my medical records, and then I get in there, and I say, “Okay, great. I don't have to fax in my lab test from this other place I went to. Now, I can just upload it.”
And then I upload it and it says that files that you upload are not made available to the doctor. You still have to fax them.
David: It’s just for your own personal-
Blake: It's just for your own records. And I'm like, “Why would I do that?” And then there's no way to message my doctor. Even though that's a feature in the app, they haven't enabled it, which is really frustrating. Stuff like also, where you can't book anything. There's no online bookings. You have to call somebody to book anything, and then they'll tell you, unless you push that it's an emergency, they'll say, “Oh yeah, we don't have any availability until June,” you know?
It's just a shit show. So, yes, accountants, we are doing better than the doctors, at least in my limited experience at this point.
David: Possibly, lawyers and some others, yes.
[00:06:15] Rundown of what episode will cover
Blake: Maybe all that as well, yeah. Well, David, we should get to the news, right?
Blake: We should talk about- because we have so much news. We have so much news this week. Elon Musk is going to war with the SEC again, or he's trolling them is really more, I think, appropriate. We have hacks, yes. A hack of MailChimp, owned by Intuit, that compromised a lot of records, apparently. And is being used for defrauding people from crypto.
We've got a survey about how boring accounting is. We missed this a while ago. University of Essex researchers conclude accounting is seen as the second most boring job possible. We'll talk about that, and what the first most boring job is.
Blake: Podcaster. I think that's along with YouTube or actually, it's one of the sexiest jobs to have.
David: It's gotta be one of the hottest ones right now. Influencer, YouTuber, content creator, whatever, yes.
Blake: So, every now and then, when I'm introducing people, I have a decision to make. I say, I have to decide, do I introduce myself as a CPA or as a podcaster? I've been- so, I've been kind of AB testing this. Podcaster definitely stimulates a lot more conversations than CPA.
David: I find it very hard to tell people what I do. I’m like, “I’m working in the accounting industry, but I'm not an accountant.” But then I start to say fintech and like, it's just very, very confusing.
Blake: Just say podcaster. Just say professional podcaster.
David: You could say podcaster, but then they’d just think you’re an unemployed person, which now, I guess I'm an employed guy. So, maybe this all makes sense.
Blake: CPA firms are showing progress in diversity. Some progress, although there's some numbers in these- there's some takeaways from these numbers that aren't quite so positive. That's the positive spin on it. Yeah. And then we could talk- I don't know, maybe if there's time- the Great Resignation, what's going on with that.
Maybe it's not a Great Resignation. Maybe it's a great reshuffling, is the discussion that I'm reading online now, which makes sense because it's not like people are quitting their jobs and just not working. People still want to work. So, David, I'll let you spin the roulette wheel.
David: Well, let’s do the- jump in your boring story. I want to understand the boring jobs.
[00:08:25] University of Essex boring job story
Blake: This University of Essex survey. I love the chart in Accounting Today. They did a good job with the headline on the chart because the chart says ‘not as boring as actuaries’, which is the classic accounting joke. Have you heard this joke, David?
How do you tell an accountant from an actuary at a cocktail party conference?
David: I don’t know, Blake. How do you tell the difference?
Blake: The accountant will stare at your shoes while he's talking. The actuary will stare at his own shoes. Yes. So, let's dig into this a little bit. The study did not make absolute claims over what is and is not boring, but instead, delved into what people perceive as boring. It involved pulling more than 500 people over a series of five different experiments about what they find boring, how boring those choices are compared to each other, and how the respondents react to boring individuals.
Here are the five jobs most associated with boring people. So, it's actually not that the job is boring. It's that the people are boring. I think the headline is wrong here.
David: So, just to make sure I'm not missing it, they found boring people. They found a thousand boring people, or how many this is, and then went and said, what do you do as a career?
Blake: No, I think they asked 500 people to rate in relative terms who is the most boring. So, if you were talking to an accountant, versus an actuary, versus a-
David: Oh, okay, okay. Got it. got it. Gotcha.
Blake: So, the most boring people, from most to least in the mind of the public, according to the survey is data analysis, accounting, tax/insurance, cleaning, and banking, in that order.
So, actuary, accountant, tax consultant/insurance agent, cleaner, dishwasher, janitor, and then banker, teller, financial adviser, all rake as the most boring. Now, conversely, you might ask what are the most exciting professions? Who has the most interesting people. And from most-
David: Oh, Uber drivers, for sure.
Blake: From most to least, performing arts, science, journalism, health professional and teaching. Those are the most interesting people or jobs.
David: What about hitman?
Blake: Hitman didn't make the list. What's funny about this is that I used to be in the performing arts. I was a cellist, or at least I was dabbling in it.
David: I'm betting in the performing arts, if they start ranking people that are boring, I think cellists might be showing not as-
Blake: Not as high as like rock musician?
David: Not as high as musical theater singer or something.
Blake: That's true. Well, my joke is- what I tell people about going from classical music to accounting is that I just went from like the most boring thing in music to the most boring thing in numbers. And people do tend to like laugh politely at that joke. So, yeah, you know, this is funny to me because I think accounting is actually really interesting.
At least the accounting that I'm in. The technology world that we do, I wouldn't do a podcast about it every week if I didn't find it fascinating. But I think the problem is that traditional accounting jobs are in fact very boring. And I would never do it. No matter how much money you paid me, I could never be an auditor. At least the way that I understand it to be, the way people perceive it.
So, it's weird because inside the accounting profession, there's a lot of different things you can do. And the accounting technology stuff, that stuff's all really fascinating. Putting in ERPs, it can be really fun. Like, you learn a lot about the business, doing financial modeling, doing all this fun stuff.
David: But auditor will never make this list because they're working so many hours. They don't actually go to a cocktail party, and people never talk to them and realize how boring they could be.
Blake: People never talk to- maybe that's the problem, right?
David: They're almost opted out of the survey.
Blake: Well, and I think part of the problem with audit in particular, is that it's not very meaningful work, right? So, and there's not much to talk about. What do you talk about when you go to a party and you're an auditor? There's like- you know, nobody wants to hear about it, right?
There's not much to say. So, that’s part of the problem too. But anyway, it's good news for us because those of us who like accounting, we know the secret. But it's not good for the pipeline, right? How do we get more people to go into accounting if the perception is that it's so boring? And the-
[00:13:09] The accounting pipeline
David: I have article about the pipeline, whenever you're ready.
Blake: Let's talk about the pipeline. Maybe changing some people's minds about this is the way we do it.
David: Yeah. So, the STEM Education in Accounting Act has been introduced. This is a bill. It was introduced apparently, in December of 2021. And then there's a companion bill that was introduced to the House in June of 2021. So, I don't know why this article has the two dates flip-flopped or. Well, I’ll start with the most current date first, then go to the previous date.
But essentially, this is backed by the AICPA and others, and it's to get accounting to be part of STEM, and for K through 12 education.
Blake: Yeah. Yeah. We were talking about this in- last year, right? Like this is the same trend to get accounting in STEM.
David: For now, it's really a bill, right?
David: And the AICPA has argued that the bill should be passed because there's a clear, logical overlap between accounting and technology. It’s a little bit of the obvious. AICPA also went on, talked about like, oh, diversity and these types of things, but really, what they really want to do is they- the focus of this bill, they want to promote the development, implementation and strengthening of programs to teach accounting, and the focus on increasing access to high quality accounting courses for students through grade 12, who are members of groups underrepresented in accounting careers.
And they're really pushing ‘cause they're hoping this will encourage a pipeline of CPAs in the future. Like, that's the driving force behind this bill.
David: Now, the AICPA is using it to check all their boxes. It's checking their diversity box, their technology box, their curriculum education box. Really, the AICPA gets a lot of wins from this one bill, if they can get accounting to become STEM. [CROSSTALK].
Blake: Right. But you know how I feel about these attempts to improve the pipeline at the education level in high school and college. It's not going to happen fast enough. 75 percent of CPAs are eligible to retire in like 10 years. So, like, there's just not time.
David: And K through 12, this is going to be- yeah.
Blake: Yeah. I mean, you know, this is too little too late. My feeling is we need to stop people from leaving, right? A lot of people are leaving the profession, especially diverse candidates. They're leaving due to a lack of inclusion, perceived lack of equitable treatment inclusion. And we also don't make it really easy for people to join the profession. Like for me, as a career changer, it was really difficult, really challenging.
And the only reason I was able to do it is because I had financial resources available to me. I didn't have massive student loan debt to worry about. So, I could take the time to get those extra 150 hours that I needed to have and sit for the CPA exams, which took like years and years and years. It's not easy if you don't do it, starting in college.
It's like, really hard. So, you know, this is- it's just not gonna work.
[00:16:02] Thank you to our sponsor, FreshBooks
Blake: This episode of The Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Fresh Books. Recently, I chatted with Twyla Verhelst, director of the Accountant Channel over at Fresh Books because I wanted to see what they've been up to. For those who don't know, FreshBooks was the first accounting software I used as a freelance bookkeeper back in 2011.
So, I've been really curious to see what's new. Turns out, a few years ago, FreshBooks launched a new platform that is now more than just invoicing. FreshBooks is now a full general ledger with financial reports, bank feeds and journal entries.
FreshBooks also has your favorite app integrations, even some embedded ones like Gusto for payroll. And with the launch of their new accounting partner program, Twyla and the FreshBooks team are creating a platform and a partner experience that’s showcasing that they're really listening to our feedback.
If you want to learn about the benefits of working better together with Fresh Books, head over to cloudaccountingpodcast.promo/freshbooks. That is cloudaccountingpodcast.promo/freshbooks.
[00:17:16] Diverse hires in accounting on the rise, but accounting majors dropping
Blake: Now, we see this in the numbers. There was an article in the Journal of Accountancy and Accounting Today about the same study. It's a report from the AICPA, their trends report, which was released Wednesday. And the headline in both sites is ‘diverse accounting hires on the rise.’
So, that's the positive spin, is that diversity has increased in hiring accountants, from 30 percent to 35 percent in two years. So, hey, you know, that's meaningful- 5 percent increase in diversity. So, 35 percent of new hires are from diverse backgrounds, but it's still kind of-
David: That's a big jump in two years. I mean, unless that's because of some work they did earlier in the pipeline five years ago.
Blake: No, no, I think that that's to be congratulated and that's great. And if that continued every two years, we would have a much more diverse accounting workforce in- well, you know, let's say we wanted to get to half, right? I mean, I don't know. It would take a while, right? Like if you want it to mirror-
Blake: The U.S.- yeah, society- I don't remember what it is anymore. It depends on what state you're in. But like, you know, I think in California where, you know, I was living most recently, we were a majority-minority state. Meaning that, you know, it should be at least half of your candidates are diverse because that's the way the state makeup is, if you want to represent it. So, to get from 35, we need another 15 percent.
That's going to take at least six years if you keep that going, right? So, that's good actually. It's not too long, but here's the problem. The same report also found that colleges and universities in the U.S. saw total accounting undergraduate enrollment decline 7.8 percent from 2019 to 2021. And freshmen enrollment was down 13.1 percent.
So, that is problematic for the future of the profession, overall, regardless of how diverse it is. Freshmen enrollment down 13 percent in accounting.
David: And what if they put the STEM out for K through 12 and kids are like, “I'm never going to accounting.”
Blake: Because they experience it and they don't like it? I don't-
David: I mean, this is what happens, right? Like everybody has to take chemistry, and this is why there's hardly any chemists, right? Like rocket science, like these difficult things, people don't want to do.
Blake: CPA firms hired 10 percent fewer accounting graduates in 2020 than 2019. So, CPA firms are responding to all this, the shortage, by hiring fewer accounting graduates because they have to go outside of accounting to find people. But also, I would argue that our education in accounting is not preparing accountants for what they need to do in CPA firms these days.
All the different stuff they need to do. And if you look at where accountants are getting placed in these CPA firms, more and more of them are getting stuck in audit. So, rather than this trend we want, which is accountants need to broaden their skillset, we need to get out of the traditional stuff and do more consulting and technology and all that, the opposite is what's happening.
Accounting is getting more siloed because there aren't enough accountants and they're all getting stuck into audit. So, like, this long-term trend, if this continues, it means that really, accounting will not become this profession that's diverse in the sense that we do a lot of different stuff. Which is the opposite of what the CPA exam is trying to accomplish by adding in technology.
So, it's not working. And the headline is touting the one good number, but overall, the numbers are not great. And non-accounting graduates hired into accounting and finance firms increased by 10 percent. So, we're being replaced by non-accounting students. And I would expect that, you know, the number of CPAs would decline too. I have a stat on that.
This is also from the AICPA trends report- I think a different one, maybe 2019. Here's the shocking finding. Only 27 percent of respondents saw themselves spending most of their careers in public accounting. A third saw their careers in business, not CPA firms, but a significant 24 percent weren't sure where they were going.
And in those uncertain ranks, lies the future of the accounting industry. So, only 27 percent of respondents to this survey that are in accounting programs, like students in accounting, say that they're going to stay in public accounting. So, what does that say about like public accounting, where, you know, it's just, it's not desirable? And I've said it's the work-life balance. The job itself has not kept up with changing expectations of what people want in their lives.
They want fewer hours. They want greater flexibility. Not a lot of firms are offering that. The ones that do are succeeding and thriving, but the ones that don't, that make you come into the office, work crazy busy season hours, you're not going to get the talent.
David: So, it's funny. So, I tweeted about this, right? About what if you could have an experiment, right? If you could take twins, identical DNA, identical GPAs, identical careers, identical degrees, everything identical, and one chooses to go public, and the other chooses private. And one goes and gets their CPA, and the other doesn't. Like, what could we learn from that?
And people's answers that were on Twitter and LinkedIn were kind of all over the board, but like some people were like, “One’s going to hate their life. The other one in the long run, may be better off because they go with the CPA route.” It'll be kind of interesting.
Blake: And I should correct the record here. So, that data on how many accounting students see themselves staying in public accounting, that low number of 23 percent, that was from the Illinois CPA Society. They surveyed over 3000 accounting students, graduates and professionals under the age of 35. And 88 percent of them, either currently a CPA, aiming to become one, or seriously considering the possibility.
So, those were people are seriously considering becoming CPAs if they aren't already, and they don't see themselves spending their career in public accounting. Only 23 percent do, which is way lower, I think, than it used to be. Right? Used to have more of the split- public and industry.
Blake: Now, it's like way more industry because the jobs are better. Anyway, enough on that.
[00:23:34] Audit and Wirecard update
David: I have an article about audit. A kind of an update on the news from an older article. This is audit-related, though.
Blake: Is this the KPMG partner who got fined?
David: No, this is Wirecard. Something about Wirecard.
Blake: Wirecard? Oh yeah, yeah. The-
David: The Wirecard fraud.
Blake: The German company.
David: Essentially, they were making fake bank statements, essentially, right? At a Photoshop or something, is the gist of it. Well, so, they, you know- and at their peak, they were at $25 billion valuation, right? But then obviously, it fell apart. Companies lost their holdings, investors lost investments, right?
And what's happening now is- so, this article actually, believe it or not, was on casino.org because apparently, Wirecard moved money for gaming companies. So, gaming casinos, things like that. Better Finance, an investor campaign group out of Europe is launching a foundation to try to recuperate as much as 1.5 billion euros, according to Reuters.
They've established an entity in Netherlands, and they're looking to recover funds for 30,000 victims. And essentially, they're going after EY Global and EY Germany for this.
Blake: Saying that EY’s responsible because they didn't detect this.
David: Yeah. They believe that the Wirecard story to investors was they had steady growth in sales and profits. And every year, EY certified those as [INAUDIBLE] for a decade.
Blake: And it was really bad auditing, in that EY did not seek independent confirmation of bank balances. They just accepted the bank statements that Wirecard provided them without any further investigation. And that's like audit 101. Audit 101.
David: Yeah. And not just that. So, there was an investigation, right? The Wambach, W-A-M-B-A-C-H Report, which is the result of investigation by Germany, clearly demonstrates that EY had consistently failed to follow basic principles of auditing.
Blake: Yeah, basic- like, do an independent confirmation of the bank statements. I have a related story, David.
[00:25:26] banknovelties.com - you can buy fake bank statements
Blake: It's really not that difficult to fool your auditor these days, right? Because if they'll just take the bank statements you give them, you don't even have to do a lot of work to make those fake bank statements. There's a website where you can buy them. This is as reported- yeah, it was reported in Accounting Today. The site is called banknovelties.com.
Let's check it out. I haven't actually visited it yet. Banknovelties.com. claims it can provide fake bank statements, as well as fake pay stubs, fake utility bills and fake U.S. tax returns. They're readily available for as low as $50 each. It may seem like a joke, but as the U.S. government pursues billions of dollars in fraud tied to Congress' pandemic relief measures, a common thread has emerged.
The people who stole taxpayer money did it using bogus documents. And those are easily obtained on websites that are fully functional across the internet. This is the gig economy. There are people who have figured out that, “I can sell fake bank statements for like 50 bucks a pop for people who want to obtain loans fraudulently.”
And the problem is that we, auditors, we, accountants, haven't come up with a better way to check this stuff.
David: Oh my God. Their pricing page is amazing. Every accounting firm- look at this pricing page. So, it's kind of subscriptions based on volume, right? If you want 12 months of bank statements, it's 550 bucks. And then each additional one is $30 a month. But they also have surge pricing, rush fees.
Blake: Surge pricing, yeah.
David: So, if you want a utility bill in 24 hours, $50, boom. Credit report, $150. All credit report.
Blake: I wonder how- I wonder, you know, it would be- I wonder how easy it would be to get a mortgage using these fake documents because we know that the underwriters aren't actually confirming any of this stuff, they just ask for all the documents, right? And as long as you provide them-
David: And you can choose from a hundred different fake type of statements.
Blake: Yeah. Very diverse service offering here.
David: Fake pay stubs.
Blake: So, maybe this is the service that Wirecard use to create those fake bank statements that they sent to EY.
David: Are you kidding me? Oh, this is- oh, this is crazy. Like you- these are going to have to have- the pay stubs probably have your social security number somewhere on these docs. You're typing these into web forms- like questionable company.
Like basically, this is probably just a front to steal your identity. This whole website. How many paystubs do you need, Blake?
Blake: No, no. These guys are like making real money from this. Like, this is not- they're not stealing- I mean, they could- I guess they could steal your identity if you put in your information.
David: Oh, and they’re global. You have to go to a different website if you need UK, Australia, European products. Wow.
Blake: So, this is the thing. Like, it used to be hard to do this. To fake a bank statement or to fake checks used to take a lot of work. And so, as auditors, we just said, “We'll check it. If it looks legit, then we'll accept it.” But now, everything's scanned too, right? So, all it takes is a fraudster to buy these documents. They look really, really real, and auditors don't know how to look at them.
So, like, our procedures have not caught up with-
David: Well, this is great because like all the tax organizers are asking me to upload all this stuff. I could just go get it here and upload it. Fool the tax organizers.
Blake: Yeah, you could get yourself a nice, sweet deduction, fool a CPA real easy, right? You just get all the fake documents, send them to your CPA. They put them into the return, right? Looks legit.
David: They wouldn’t know. It looks legit.
Blake: Although honestly, like, I'm sure that you wouldn't- you could just go find a CPA who's unethical, or a tax preparer who is not licensed and just go do it.
David: And it looks like this is human-powered. This is human-powered because there's just like a free text field where you can like customize it. Like, when should they- should they be monthly or weekly? What tax do you start at the tax year? What are the dates that should be shown? Like, you can really customize this to your exact need, like you had to go to court or something, right?
Blake: Well, so, here's the problem is if- so, if we-
David: And you have to- you only pay with Bitcoin. Like ‘cause they know they might be able to trust you to pay them.
Blake: Yeah, right. Well, it's also, so, ‘cause they, you know, they don't want to get caught, right? And if they're off shore, they can- you can pay them with Bitcoin, the money can't get seized. Like, the government- ‘cause what they're doing is illegal. Like, you can't use Bank of America's logo and put them on fake documents.
David: Well, you're agreeing that you're providing them with accurate information.
Blake: So, what does this mean?
David: So, let's say you lost your pay stub. You want to- like the recreating your pay stub. You're going to give them accurate information.
Blake: Right, right. I mean, that’s how they try to get around, but they can't actually- like the thing that they're violating absolutely is if they use Bank of America's logo and put it on a document and sell it to you. That's 100 percent can't do that. Even if you're just recreating something.
Blake: Right. So, well, here's the problem. So, like this is maybe not that big a thing, but it's gonna- people are gonna use this, right? Fraudsters are gonna use this. So, then how do we stop that? The only way is if we stop relying on physical documents to validate what we're being told. And so, that's why there's like a huge opportunity to do confirmations by plugging into people's systems.
So, instead of me getting a bank statement and sending it to you, Mr. Mortgage underwriter, or whatever, you would just let me connect your system to my bank account, and then you would pull the transactions in and you would verify that they're legit that way. That's the only way that we can possibly overcome this in the future. Like there's no- the physical documents are no good anymore. Or the scanned documents.
David: That's- so, you're saying the only way is that you have to what? Each app or loan or bank, whoever it is, connect to all these accounts and go retrieve that data. Open pay stubs have to be- pay stubs have to be open. You connect to a payroll. I'm just saying, hypothetically.
Blake: I mean, connect to my payroll, just- something like that, right? That's the only way that we’d get around this. I mean, it's just kind of crazy that this is how we're validating information now, is taking scans of things and using those as evidence when they don't work anymore. But it's going to take a long time for our profession to catch up to that.
And in the meantime, we're going to slide into irrelevance if we don't because we get fooled really easily. And most people don't know this is available. But if you asked auditors about this site, they would have no clue.
David: That, I agree. That's the- this is the kind of stuff that's probably not being trained, right? And actually, you could do a talk.
Blake: Yeah, sounds good.
David: You could do a talk with this AICPA Engage: here’s resources that in the internet commit to commit fraud against audit. And you could just show up and show all these websites. It's a talk at the AICPA Engage.
David: Maybe we do a talk.
Blake: No, maybe. If they let us. If they let us in.
David: or maybe, we- if they let us in. Well, we'll be able to create free credentials and they'll let us in. It’d be like, “Look.” What a legit.
Blake: Oh yeah, that would be great. That would be funny. That would be really funny.
David: Look. We got- we spoke here at this conference. Look at the pay stub we got from speaking at this company. We could kind of do that.
[00:32:05] Thank you to our sponsor, OnPay
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[00:33:12] Gift card scams
David: Speaking of just scams or these things, you're familiar with the whole gift card scam, right? How this works.
Blake: Remind me.
David: Okay. So, essentially, you randomly get a text from me. But it's not me. It's somebody who says, “Hey Blake, this is David. I need you to do a favor.” And you reply back because you think it’s me.
Blake: Oh yes, yes. Somebody tried to do this to me.
David: And long story short, somehow, the favor always gets to, “I need you to go to Walmart or Home Depot and buy $500 in gift cards, and read me the numbers off of these gift cards. Happens all- constantly.
Blake: Yeah. So, I got fished in this way. I mean, I didn't fall for it. I played along with it too, to see how long it would go. But when I was at my first accounting software tech job, somebody impersonating our CEO texted me and tried to get me to do this- to go buy gift cards and scratch off the back and-
David: Same thing. Within the first week at the new job, had the same thing happen at Melio. It's crazy. Now, what's insane about this is, in the first nine months of 2021, consumers have a reported 148 million in frauds. In 2020, it was 114 million in this gift card fraud. And there is this in the news this week is Walmart has built some technology, and they actually helped to free some of these gift cards when they were bought.
But I'm kind of like, who is- it talks about elderly victims. I don't want to like- I'm getting to the elderly age here soon. But at the same time, like, who in their right mind is okay with this? And I'm playing down a scenario in my head.
Blake: Yeah, yeah.
David: My parents' 75th anniversary is at the- or 50th anniversary is at the end of the month. If my sister texted me right now today, and she's like, “Hey, I need you to go buy some gift cards, $500 in gift cards, for mom and dad's anniversary, and then read me the numbers off the cards,” like none of it makes any sense. And like- and not only that, I’d tell my sister, “You go to Walmart and buy the cards.”
It's like, I don't understand how people fall for this.
Blake: All it takes is one out of 10,000, if you do it enough, right? Like that's the thing. You just- it's just- it's a numbers game.
David: And this is $500 at a time, right? It's $500 at a time, $500 at a time. I don't know.
[00:35:25] Thank you to our sponsor, 2(maybe)
Blake: So, I'm gonna let you choose David. Do you wanna talk about Elon Musk and the SEC, or do we want to get to app news? I kind of feel like we should probably talk about the app news.
David: I mean, I didn’t even hear about this SEC thing. Is this really, he’s buying Twitter? I don’t even know what’s going on.
Blake: Yeah, yeah. So, I was just connecting a few things in the past and you know, like the SEC, I actually have- I'm not the biggest fan of the SEC and the way they treat GAAP, right? What they've done with GAAP, and the usefulness of public financial statements from public companies. Like, I have come to this awareness over the last few years that like, I don't think the SEC is really doing its job.
And then Elon Musk- who's the biggest critic of the SEC- comes out this week and buys like almost 9 percent of Twitter. Now, we have to rewind to see how this relates to the SEC and what's going on.
David: And us, and our show.
Blake: And our show. So, do you remember when Elon Musk got in trouble for his tweet about taking Tesla private?
David: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Blake: So, he tweeted in the past, he said, “Taking Tesla- something like taking Tesla private at 4-20.” And it was unclear as to whether that was a joke because 4-20 is a marijuana reference or it was serious. And of course, the SEC doesn't joke around. And statements like that are illegal. You cannot make statements like that as a CEO of a public company because it's market manipulation.
Blake: And so, he got in big trouble. He had to pay a $20 million fine. I think it was 20 million, Tesla paid another 20. He had to submit to something about his tweets being monitored, which of course, he hasn't actually done. He had- he came to a settlement with the SEC, right? And I think that set him on a path of conflict.
He hates the SEC, Elon Musk. Here's an excerpt from an interview he did with 60 Minutes after this.
Elon Musk: I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them.
60 Minutes: But you're abiding by the settlement, aren't you?
Elon Musk: Because I respect the justice system.
Blake: So, that's- I think that's why he bought Twitter. You know, he's now the largest shareholder in Twitter. It's basically a big F-you to the SEC.
David: Interesting. I thought it’s about the edit button; the ability to edit a tweet.
Blake: Well, so, he's also a prolific user of Twitter, but I think this really goes back to that. He wants to basically- now, by being a shareholder in Twitter, he can control it and he can- who's going to censor him, right? Is Twitter going to censor its biggest shareholder? So anyway, that's why I think this is all connected.
But here's the thing, it connects again with the SEC ‘cause he was supposed to file a disclosure form. Whenever you buy more than 5 percent of a company, whenever you surpass more than 5 percent of a company, you have to notify-
David: And he was doing this over the last 60 days or so, right? He's been buying a little bit every day, a day.
Blake: And in secret.
David: So, this will- he had any intention of doing this, he probably should have disclosed to the SEC.
Blake: Well, it’s a requirement, right?
Blake: And you do it in secret, that this is what you do is, you don't want to drive up the price by announcing this. So, you do it in secret. But then once you get to 5 percent, you're supposed to announce it. He didn't file the form until he got to 9 percent.
So, he already is in violation of this rule. And of course, after his disclosure, Twitter share price rose 30 percent and is now above $50 a share. So, do the math. His delay of filing that form made him $156 million, or saved him $156 million because he would have-
David: Which makes up for the $20 million he got fined before.
Blake: I guess, yeah, exactly. So, you know, the SEC is going to come after him for this, but any fines they hand out are going to be nothing compared to how much money he just made. So that's why this is- he's just trolling them.
David: All right. Yes, I see that.
Blake: The SEC, the PCAOB, the fines they hand out are meaningless in the context of the richest man in the world's wealth.
David: Yeah. It's funny. Like, everybody wants the ultra-rich to be taxed higher, on a percentage of their net worth. Maybe the fines should be a percentage of somebody's net worth. Maybe not the taxes, but maybe the fines should be.
Blake: Yeah. ‘Cause the fines that- you know, even if the SEC hands him another $20 million fine, or he agrees to it, who knows if he didn't even agree to it, it’s nothing compared to what he made.
David: At what point is it- is it 200 million? Like, where does he feel it? Do you ever wonder that? At what point does he feel it? 500 million?
Blake: I mean, let's see, how rich is Elon Musk? Elon Musk net worth. He recently surpassed Jeff Bezos. Yeah. his net worth is 200- round up to 280 billion USD.
David: So, a billion-dollar fine, he might not-
Blake: A billion-dollar fine, he might not-
David: When- at what point does he feel it?
Blake: And Elon, he's the kind of guy who- his principle- you know what I like about him is that he says what he thinks. And he actually is very principles-based. You know, he believes- I don’t agree with him, but he believes in total free speech, right? Like, unlimited, no restrictions. And you know, whereas I think most reasonable people believe we should have some restrictions, I think people like him because he points out the truth, or he speaks truth to power and he's a powerful person, so he can do that.
And yeah, the SEC is not particularly effective. And it's hard to respect them when they're- in my opinion- doing a pretty bad job of protecting the public markets, and providing useful information to investors, and doing what they're supposed to be.
David: And he's got a bunch of passionate followers. Like he- ‘cause he could probably do politics, who knows, right? Where this heads to.
Blake: So, that's why I think this is just a big F-you.
[00:41:07] Former Block employee had access to company reports
David: I have an article, speaking of, that's related to Twitter and the SEC. Well, the founder of Twitter started Block. So, Block Cash App, right? So, Block, which just used to be Square, right?
Blake: Not H&R Block. Not H&R Block.
David: Not H&R Block. Block, this used to be Square. They made Cash App. A former employee who had access to reports- probably a Google Sheet, more I'm guessing- had sensitive customer data in it. And now, it's a former employee, he was still accessing these reports and pulling information off them.
They don't think that it's been used for anything, right? But-
Blake: That’s what they always say. We have no evidence it was used for anything, but they would never know. How would they know?
David: Used for anything, but it was consumers, their brokerage account numbers, whole things, portfolio value, stock trading activity. But this is like a bigger issue of people not having due diligence when they look at the employees, right? Or an employee no longer works somewhere, it's just leaves it access.
Blake: Yeah. And this is a big problem in accounting firms, too, right? Which is, your employees have all these logins to different systems because we're all in the cloud now. We got like dozens of apps we're using. Do you, as a firm, actually go through and remove their access to everything? And I would say like 90 percent of the time, you probably miss something.
Most small firms, you miss it, right? I mean, if we're missing things when we onboard them, what do you think the chances are that we're missing things when we off-board them? Absolutely. So.
[00:42:34] Mailchimp was hacked
David: So, there's that. And I think there’s- oh wait, no. The other fraud we have to talk about or breach, we’re going to talk about MailChimp, quickly.
Blake: So, Mail- so, this will transition us into app news, right? The Mailchimp fraud, here we go. So, what do we know about this Mailchimp hack?
David: So, it confirmed that hackers used an internal tool. So, it was like an internal- my understanding- like an internal tech support tool of some type. And they stole data for about a hundred clients. Now, the client though- a Mail- like a MailChimp client would be a business.
David: Right? And so, what happened-
Blake: It’s their contact list, right? Their email list.
David: The email list, it would be the business itself, right? I think- do you use Mailchimp for the podcast, or you did in the past or?
Blake: So, I used it in the past. We used it in the past for our email list for the podcast.
David: Oh my God. That’s what I thought, yeah.
Blake: And really, it was just like names and email addresses, but you can use Mailchimp to track everything. It can be a CRM now, so.
David: And if it's the right company. So, what they did is they obviously, had access to this list, who knows for how long. And they went on to build a very complex scam. So, apparently, there's a crypto wallet. I think it's a crypto something called Trezor, T-R-E-Z-O-R.
It's a hardware-based cryptocurrency wallet. And what they did is they sent out emails- you know, the typical phishing-style emails to these people, convinced them to basically go to a website that mocked their website. And apparently, there's a companion desktop app or something.
Convinced people to download this other app. And then after that, it stole their- what's that theory? Your security phrase with crypto, that nine-
Blake: Your key.
David: Your key, right? Stole their key. And then-
Blake: Drained their accounts. Drained their wallets.
David: Drained their accounts. And essentially, that's where we're at on that. Now, the spokesman for Trezor really talked about how like- so, in a blog post on Treasure- Trezor- oh, yes. It’s probably like- it's probably pronounced treasure. It's T-R-E-Z-O-R. It's probably pronounced treasure.
Blake: Trezor? Treasure?
Blake: You think it’s treasure?
Blake: Oh God.
David: Yeah, I think it's a play on words, right?
Blake: Yeah, maybe.
David: It's the hip tip cool kids way to spell treasure. It says, “It was exceptional sophistication and clearly planned to a high level of detail.” So, it makes you wonder, like, how long have they had access to this? It's not like they decided, “Let's do this and figure out how to get ahold of the users.” They probably discovered the users they had access to, then they just- then they built a scam. So, it's like, how long has this door been open?
David: I guess Intuit will have to deal with it.
Blake: Phishing attacks are getting really, really sophisticated. It's really hard to tell the difference between a real email and a fake one, when they have all this info about you.
David: And of course, you’re going to- if people fall for the, ‘I need gift cards from Walmart’ thing, you're for sure gonna fall for the email that everything about it looks legit, and it takes you to a legit-looking website, and you download a legit-looking app.
Blake: Yeah, yeah.
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[00:46:33] More on "Fast" failing to raise money
David: What else do you have for app news?
Blake: Well, there was a bunch of fundraising, and there was also a big failure. So, let's talk about the failure first. Fast, the checkout startup. I love the name. The name of the company is Fast, and they raised a ton of money. They raised-
David: We talked about just briefly last week about this ‘cause you started to hear rumblings about this. $100 million.
Blake: So, they raised $120 million in investment and they're shutting down. They were a one-click checkout startup, and they just last year, raised 102 million. Stripe is investing in them or did invest in them. And I guess they were just burning money so fast that they had to shut down. They never- it's crazy, right?
That a company could raise that much money and never find product market fit. That's what's incredible to me about this.
David: And a lot of it is their debit competitor. And the competitor is also in the news this week, Bolt. And Bolt was kind of out and ahead. And to some extent, I would say Bolt was probably a long-term threat to Stripe, right?
Blake: Uh huh.
David: So, Stripe really doubled down and pushed money into Fast, and Fast grew probably too fast and spent the money too fast.
And eventually- and this is a quote from a former employee. So, “We waited too long and we ran out of money. Fast misjudged significantly the mood of venture capitalist, presumably the assumption that they would keep investing in the company.”
Blake: That they would keep investing, even though they were only making- like, how much revenue did they have?
David: They had 600K.
Blake: Yeah. So, this is a company valued at over a billion dollars with $600,000 in revenue. You know? Like, I don't know. I guess this is how things go, right? When you're in the big leagues, if you can raise the money, people will bet on you.
And it doesn't matter if you have customers, paying customers. So, it's funny, David, ‘cause like, we experienced this ourselves in this space when we were talking about Digits, a couple episodes ago. Digits has raised like- what was it? Close to $1 million?
David: 65 and a half- over half a billion-dollar.
Blake: Yeah. We're talking tens of millions of dollars. They do not have anything you can buy. And they have maybe a few hundred firms using the software. You know?
David: But I also- I mean, like, in defense of Digits, there's no- I mean, it's been top secret, and they talk about how much they've raised, and their investors. It's just a lot of that talk, but you don't- haven’t even heard any like- there's not anything you've seen out there of them being frivolous. And you haven't earned anything about their founders. Like, their founder- we talked about this last week- of Fast, he has some issues in legal troubles with his last startup in Australia.
Blake: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
David: Some shady tow truck thing, sort of. But it ultimately- it just like crosses the whole culture of these companies. So, there's a tweet that came out from Gary Dharna, D-A-R-N-A, on Twitter @GaryDhana, and I'm gonna read the tweet. “I'm saddened by the outcome at Fast, but proud of the team I worked with in the creative marketing we did as a startup.
If you heard of us, it may have been through our 60,000 plus, hoodies sold. I ran our store and need to find what's next. Who wants me to make their company swag?” And so, kind of where, I saw that tweet and I was like, okay, well, let's just say, hey, if you take a hoodie, sell for 30 bucks, 60,000 hoodies, that's $1.8 million in revenue.
I'm like, “This one employee exceeded all of Fast’s revenue.” They should’ve just been selling hoodies. Then I was quickly corrected by another person on the internet who sent me a link and tweets to their hoodies. But guess how much they sold these hoodies for?
Blake: No, I have no idea.
David: $1. They were giving away hoodies.
Blake: Oh yeah. So, they-
David: Like, this is so unimpressive. It's just like- it just shows this irrational hubris that exists with these people. The startup mindset sometimes.
Blake: Right. Sales and marketing before product. That's what- like, they didn't have the product that anyone wanted to buy, and they were trying to- you know, it's get the customers and then- I don't know. I don't understand it. I really don't understand it. I guess it’s-
[00:50:38] Bolt acquires cryptocurrency company for $1.5 billion
David: Well, in the meantime, Bolt, their competitor is kind of crushing it out there. So, Fast competitor, Bolt. And Bolt has raised money, right? But they've also been- apparently, they had 35X the revenue, or 53X the revenue of Fast. So, they've got real market traction, real usage, et cetera. Well, they just bought a crypto company that's in the payment space. It's a startup called Wyre Payments, and they bought them for 1.5 billion, now.
So- and apparently, what this would allow you to do is like the one-click shopping card button for Bolt, like you just click and buy. Just like when you're on Amazon, you just- you say buy now, that's what these companies do. They offer that type of service to other third-party e-commerce cards. So, like you could add that for Earmark, like, ‘buy now’ and it's frictionless to purchase that.
But now you can tie it to your-
Blake: Once the customer signs up on one site, they can use it on all the other sites.
Blake: So, it's like Shopify has this where they save your payment information, and then you go to any Shopify store, and it's already there. It makes you much more likely to buy.
David: And so, the- basically now, by this acquisition, they can offer people to pay with crypto, and Lightning Network, and that type of stuff. Now, what's interesting about this- and this ties everything back. Yes, this is fine for Bolt if people could use this feature, and this is something that’s possibly Fast issue is, merchants can kind of build these on their own, fairly simply.
So, is there really even a market here for this button? Like, is there a business around this one button?
Blake: I think there is because yeah, you can build it, but the whole value in the button is from the network effect of it being everywhere.
David: But then other people just build a button that's cheaper. A different that's a cheaper one, but yeah.
Blake: Right. Like, whoever-
David: Somebody has to win it, but first.
Blake: Whoever gets everybody's info in their button first is going to win.
David: Yeah. but if you have to sell and you have to be part of- if you're trying to sell things online, you probably have to be part of marketplaces like Amazon or Shopify, right?
Blake: Right. Yeah, yeah.
David: They're just going to offer the button itself. So, it's like there's a questioning of the whole interior space, but Bolt- just to show you the difference, right? Bolt was founded in 2014. They have a tons and tons of shopping websites. Forever 21 was a client. So, they had like real businesses using- real-
David: And that's a difference- I think them and Fast, right?
Blake: Bigger businesses, as opposed to like, small ones.
David: Bigger businesses, yeah.
Blake: Because I feel like the small ones will be on Shopify. The big ones will have their own site and they'll need something like this.
David: They should go in and just buy Fast now for like pennies on the dollar. Just- speaking of trolling, they aren’t much to do that.
Blake: Well, it doesn’t matter. There's nothing to buy. There's nothing to buy.
David: They should order a bunch of hoodies, right?
[00:53:22] Updates on other fundraising rounds for Mosaic, Clockwork.ai, and Docyt
Blake: All right. So, let's talk about some other fundraising rounds. Mosaic, FP&A software provider- created by Palentir graduates or former Palentir people- has raised $25 million in a Series B round of funding led by founders fund. I know Mosaic because they were one of our competitors when I was at Jirav, doing similar things, making financial modeling software, forecasting, budgeting, all this stuff.
I think this is a really- obviously, I worked at your Jirav. I worked at one of these companies, so I think this is a really, really, really promising space. And good on- good for Mosaic for doing that.
David: There's another app that raised- that's in that same planning and analysis space. An app called Clockwork.ai. They closed the two million- or a seed round. What's interesting about this, its both founders are minority-based founders, which is good. ‘Cause you tend not to see this with a lot of startups.
Blake: Yeah, yeah.
David: And a lot of it is, they have been their own startup experience suffered these pains of not having access to numbers that you need your team to have access to numbers. And so, they synced to QuickBooks Online and Xero, and you know, they're saving teams 20 hours a month managing, you know, planning, predicting, you know, cashflow, that type of stuff.
Blake: Docyt has raised 11.5 million in a Series A for its AI-powered accounting service. This is as reported in TechCrunch. David, do you know anything about Docyt? Have you seen these guys?
David: Yeah, it's similar to Dex auto entry style play. I think they are doing payments as well. And I think they're also focusing on some other accounting automation workflows. The one thing is I think is they just do a lot, and it's like, what do they really- what's their sweet spot? Like, what are they doing really well? I'm not totally sure about.
Blake: Yeah. It says in the TechCrunch article- this is a quote from the CEO, Sidharth Saxena, “Docyt's goal is to generate financial reports for our customers. It is not piecemeal automation that does just one workflow and then expects somebody else to do the accounting. The job of the system is to generate actual reports so that the business owners can make critical decisions.”
So, that sounds like a GL. Like, financial reports.
David: All right. I think that- well, everybody's on a march, right? To do it all.
David: And I think this is the- even though I think they started in the scanning the documents, they've kind of- are continuing down that run. And yes, even though they are an add-on for QuickBooks or Xero, they have kind of- they are- everybody wants to replace those, right?
David: We're going to build everything, so.
Blake: So, Docyt-
David: So, some other ones to watch.
Blake: So, Docyt starts at $300 a month; $299 a month for two users, and then goes up to 500, and then 600 for their advanced.
David: Now, it basically tells me they are not going after the QuickBooks market.
David: And they want to be in the ERP space.
Blake: Yeah, mid-market, right? That space.
David: As soon as your app costs more than QuickBooks, it's really like- it's a hard sell to the QuickBooks user. So, as friends, we just happened to pull up the Docyt’s website. And it says- their tagline here says ‘make your business thrive.’
[00:56:31] Thryv has a billion-dollar revenue target
David: And coincidentally, the next article I have is about Thryv. Are you familiar with Thryv?
David: You may have seen commercials for this. Like, it's T-H-R-Y-V. And it's- I don't know the whole history on it, but I think it's- it really reminds me the olden days of you had the yellow pages, then the yellow page became like Dex.
And then it became Dex, and then it became an app and moved online. And I think it's- I think that money has moved towards this app called Thryv. And they’re in our space, but they're not in our space from a marketing standpoint; they’ve kind of take in their own path. Well, they just had their investor day and they announced that they have a revenue target of 1 billion in 2027.
And this app kind of does everything. It's part CRM, it's got your day-to-day functions for service-based businesses. They're now adding buy now pay later, it's merchant service, right? They're garnering now support in Canada and Australia soon, in 2022. They're building centers of strategy, and like, it just- it's a big product that like, I'm surprised for as big as it is, we don't get exposed to it more in our space.
Blake: Yeah. I've never seen it. So, it does all this stuff, like get the job, like it does social media, it does scheduling and appointments, it does CRM, document storage and sharing, it does sales and payments. So, okay, it's really like a CRM job management solution for home services, health and wellness, legal. That seems to be where they really focus; health and wellness, home services and legal. So, it's business management software, like what we would call practice management software.
David: The commercials are very effective. Like I'll see like their commercials on TV, and it reminds me of the olden days of the QuickBooks- the old QuickBooks Online commercials. Now, not these new ones that are very like magic just happens and they’re very inspirational, and you know? It's like, they just showed QuickBooks Online, and showed a business owner, and be like, “Look, it's easy as doing this.”
They're kind of- the commercials are- tend to be, “Oh, you have all these things. Look at all these things we do.” And it's just app feature, app feature, app feature, app feature. And then you wonder why, you know, people sign up and they charge- you know, they're doing okay. I wonder what their true history is then. Where they came from.
They were created through a 2017 merger of Dex Media, which was a yellow pages publisher, and they restructured debt in 2016. So, yeah, it comes via the yellow pages. So, they kind of- ‘cause yellow pages, essentially, if you think about it- going back to the olden days- if you were running the yellow pages, guess what you have a book of business of?
Small businesses you're selling ads to. So now, if you pivot and you create some sort of app-y thing for small- ‘cause Dex used to build websites for people, I remember, in early 2000s. People would get their website built by Dext, right? Dex.
Blake: Wait, Dext the- which used to be Receipt Bank?
David: You know, kind of- D-E-X. Like, D-E-X, not Dext.
Blake: Oh, got it. Dex.
David: So, D-E-X, Dex media, right? As enroll with Dex, if you think about it like an abbreviation for that word, right?
Blake: Oh okay, got it. Yeah.
David: And so, they started building these tools, but they're- really, it's less than like, if you have a book of business and you have the small business owners contact info, and you've already sold them products in the past, you probably, if you can make another product, can sell them a new product, right?
[00:59:58] Xero appoints new chief growth officer for the USA
Blake: Well, last bit of app news, and then I think we should wrap it up. Xero has appointed a new chief growth officer. His name is Chris O'Neill. And I should say this is in the United States. He will report to Xero CEO, Steve Vamos, and will be responsible for the strategic direction and operational performance within Xero's newly created applications and services division, which represents part of Xero’s small business platform.
It's a new division that is going to be made up of financial services, payroll, Planday, and the ecosystem/Xero app store.
David: So, this is somewhere how Intuit, they're always reporting the QuickBooks ecosystem numbers.
Blake: Right. Right.
David: As a whole- almost like a segment of the company. And they’re probably- Xero’s going to probably stack things that way, because that's what investors care about. They see those numbers, those ecosystem numbers, and that's what helps drive future stock growth, right?
Blake: So, financial services- that must mean like merchant services? It's gotta be, yeah.
David: Well, that loan product- the loan.
Does Xero have a loan product now?
Yeah, they bought- is it a company that starts with a W? I'm making something up. Womply or something. I mean, it’s, I feel like it was something a W they bought once.
Blake: And what about Planday? Like Planday-
David: Planday is a time sheet app-type scheduling software.
Blake: And they acquired them. Got it.
David: They acquired them. Yep.
Blake: And the ecosystem/app store. Okay. And he's going to- Chris O'Neil is also going to lead strategic development of Xero in the Americas, and will work closely with Xero president of the Americas, Tony Ward. He comes from Google and Evernote. And when I saw Evernote, I thought, “Uh oh.”
David: Uh oh, what?
Blake: Because a lot of us know that Evernote had a slide into almost obscurity and like, they were one of those unicorns that failed to deliver.
David: I still pay for it every month.
Blake: Amazing. I’ve got-
David: Well, I'm committed though. I can't get off.
Blake: Yeah, exactly. That’s the problem. You get stuck on it, right?
David: I'm fully committed. I can't get out of it at this point.
Blake: But anyway, he, apparently, led the turnaround at Evernote. So, there's that. Yeah. Well, so, congrats to Xero.
[01:02:09] Spreadsheets are bigger than ever
David: So, I have a- something we all love and we can't leave it out the app news- it's spreadsheets. So, two articles. One is about kind of how Micro- what does Excel mean in Microsoft Excel? Do you know what the word Excel means?
Blake: Well, there's a cell in there, right? So, maybe that's the cell, like the-
Blake: What's the X part though?
David: So, it's a play on words, right? It's a verb to mean superior, to surpass an accomplishment or achievement. But you're right ‘cause the word cell’s in there, it's a pun and play on words. But like, you know Excel as an active user base of like 750 million people?
David: You talk about like these- it makes 60 hoodies look like nothing. And obviously, everybody's using Excel, and you know, it started out- they released it in September, 1985, and didn't even get a Windows version until 1987, right? But then there's another article- apparently, right now- so, this article is in Wired Magazine, which is like, the cool tech kids man read Wired Magazine. Like that's the, you-
Blake: Where they used to like-
David: And it’s actually probably aging out to kids now.
Blake: They used to, until they got old.
David: Until they got older now.
Blake: Now, the Wired demographic is like-
It's 35-year-olds. 35-year-olds.
Blake: So, when- so, I started reading Wired when I was in high school.
Blake: That’s- like this thing is- Wired was the original tech publication, right? I remember when it came out.
David: Yeah, it was super cool. It was a nice magazine, it’s high quality. It was very hot. And they didn’t even-
Blake: Yeah. That's when we still had physical magazines, right? That's how we got our news, David.
David: Yeah. So, they have an article talking about how hot spreadsheets are right now. Obviously, there's, you know- we just talked about Excel, when that was created. Then Google spreadsheets online in 2016. Airtable kind of came out in 2012 with their- they call it a turducken of like database and a spreadsheet together.
But happening now is like, you have Rose, spreadsheet.com, Grist, G-R-I-S-T. All these like Uber spreadsheets that are not really spreadsheets are coming to market.
Blake: Well, they’re just like-
David: And the great thing is, it's causing innovation now for Excel and Google. We're going to see Google and Excel get these kind of database functions.
Blake: Simple versions, yes.
David: And the best part of it- and what this is all driven by is how many people just use spreadsheets to organize data.
Blake: Because they are superior for organizing data than a lot of these- I mean, the spreadsheet is the original killer app. That's the thing that made the personal computer put it on every desk in every business. It was the spreadsheet.
David: And the beautiful part about this. So, there's a story in here in this article. Apparently- Robinson's the person who's interviewing or what have you. And I’ll just read it verbatim here. “When Robinson and his wife hired a contractor to build their house, the guy showed up, showed them a spreadsheet of all the costs, but then pulled out a calculator to tote up the figures manually.
When Robinson showed him how the spreadsheet could actually do it for him, he was floored.” So, like, people are using spreadsheets and don't even know you can use it to do math.
Blake: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
David: So, this is where people are finally- I always feel like sometimes, the market will determine where a product should go. Now, why it's taking so long for spreadsheets to get to this point of where they're going to be more database-like, in the same vein of Airtable, it just took a long time. But I saw this even at Intuit.
Intuit tried to call payroll all these crazy names for like a decade, but all the customers and the end users just call it Intuit Payroll. They just called it Payroll. And then finally, Intuit just started calling it Payroll, the word Payroll, right? Like you almost can't fight the market, right?
David: But why it took this long, I mean- hundreds of millions of people have been using Excel as a database forever or- and workflow tools and checklists and all these things, not a spreadsheet, you know?
Blake: There's an entire segment of SAS that's just improving on what Microsoft Excel does. Taking something that somebody does in Excel and putting it on rails in an application because Excel is easy to break. Excel is not an application. It's really a tool, and you build applications inside of it. That's the way I think of it, right? Every spreadsheet that you create is an app, in a way.
David: It was the first- really, I mean, it's no code. It was like the first no code.
David: It was no code 30 years ago.
Blake: Yeah. So, you know, yeah. Well, and it's funny because like, I think maybe this is the article that you're talking about, is the headline in tech radars. The tyranny of Microsoft Excel may finally be over- talking about Rose, and their recent fundraise. I think it's about their fundraise, right?
David: Well, it’s a different article, but yeah, this one’s about all of them.
Blake: Yeah. I mean-
David: Actually, I suspect this article because it links directly to spreadsheet.com. Might've been pushed. It’s spreadsheet.com in this article, but the great is the last sentence in this. This writer’s- obviously, this writer’s pretty creative. He says, “Watching spreadsheets morph is like witnessing a convergent evolution, a digital life form that used to stick to the oceans, but is now crawling up onto land and trying to own earth.”
Blake: Wow. That is quite literary for an Excel spreadsheets quote.
David: I mean, it's great because what this means, is we're going to see amazing features get added to Excel, and that's going to be king for the next 30 years.
Blake: Well, one of them, I just want to let our listeners know- it's not Excel, it’s Google Sheets.
[01:07:29] New features will continue to be added, like Google spreadsheets approvals
Blake: But one of the amazing, new features in Google Sheets that everyone should check out is approvals. So, David, you can now create a spreadsheet, and then you can send it to me for approval. And after I approve it, locks the sheet.
Blake: Yeah. That's something that has always been missing from spreadsheets is, how do I lock this thing down after it's done? And with approvals, you can. And if somebody changes it, then it undoes the approval. And I think people get notified and- like, that's a fantastic feature. I mean, that was basically what Flocast, where I worked, like did, is we locked down Excel sheets. And now, they've built it into Google Sheets.
David: Interesting. Cool. Long live Excel.
Blake: But again, like the thing that people get wrong about this- and it always makes me laugh- is they say the tyranny of Microsoft Excel may finally be over. Like, well, there is no tyranny of Excel. Excel is just the most useful software application that has ever been made. And all these apps are not going to replace it.
They're just going to replace certain applications of it.
David: I've always thought it's funny with apps in general, like in our space, like all these apps. And everybody's really UI, UI, UI this, UI this, and people build all these workflows, and I’m like, “Just build a table ‘cause that's all they want.” What's- and then you have to ask the app developer. I'm like, “What's the number one app accountants use? It's Excel.”
Like they- because it's super efficient. You get so much data on one screen at once.
Blake: Give me a view of it.
David: The UI is very minimal, right?
Blake: Yeah. Give me a view of it that I can view on a table.
Blake: I mean, what- the app that I'm using right now to look at all of my stories that I've curated for this week is Notion, which is essentially, just a spreadsheet where I can show the data in different ways. So, I can enter it in a table form, but then I can view it as cards that I can move around.
It's all it is. It's just a spreadsheet with some more features, communication features in it, you know, and it's one of the most popular apps in our space.
David: Oh, I hate it, but they always continue on. I hate this show.
Blake: We'll have to talk about that sometime. We'll have to have that. Anyway, David, we are over our time for this week. I would like to let our listeners know that they're welcome to send us stories, send us voicemails. You can email me at Blake@BlakeOliver.com. You can connect with me online @BlakeTOliver. How about you, David?
David: I'm on all the socials, @DavidLeary.
Blake: And great chatting with you. Hope to see you here next week. I guess maybe you'll have some-
David: I'll be in Dallas next week. So, we need to figure out where I record at. If I record the day before we leave or before I get on the flight.
Blake: Oh yeah, yeah.
David: So, we’ll figure that out.
Blake: All right. We'll figure it out. Enjoy your trip. Where are you going? Are you going for accounting? Is this-
David: Daughter’s volleyball tournament. Then I’m gonna go- I'm gonna meet up with Jennifer Johnson. So, she's the- remember we spoke to her class?
Blake: Yeah, Professor-
David: This was at University of Texas, Dallas, or University of Houston, Dallas location or whatever.
Blake: No, University of Houston, Dallas? Is that an actual school? Like, that sounds confusing to me.
David: It's one of the colleges, but their campus that's in downtown in Dallas.
Blake: It's university of Texas.
David: University of Texas, Dallas.
David: Okay, got it. All right. But University of Texas is in Austin, but that's why there's that distinction.
Blake: That's why there's the distinction.
David: It’s like the remote- or not remote- satellite campus or something.
Blake: Yeah. Hopefully, she doesn't listen to this and get horribly insulted.
David: Anyway, we spoke to her accounting class. I’m gonna plan to meet her, which should be fun. I tried to reach out to Ed Gless, but he's been ghosting me. Maybe I'll connect with Ed Gless from there. Clint Bowers, I'm going to go and hang out with him. So, it's kind of off of lecture time. I'm going to go meet some accounting friends.
So, if you're hearing this and it is the weekend of the 14th, and you're in Dallas, and I didn't know you're in Dallas, reach out to me and maybe we'll have a beer.
Blake: Sounds good, David. Have a great week.
David: All right. Bye.
David: Time for the classifieds.
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[01:13:51] How to advertise in these classifieds
David: Want to get the word out about your newsletter, webinar, party, Facebook group, podcast, e-book, job posting, or that fancy Excel macro you just created? Why not let the listeners of The Cloud Accounting Podcast know by running a classified ad? Hit the show notes for the link to get more info.