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Accounting News Roundup: Hurd Surprised HP with PR Move; Whistleblowers Should Avoid…; Rangel Won’t Have This Resignation Talk | 08.11.10

H-P Board Surprised Hurd Didn’t Go Quietly [WSJ]
H-P’s directors ‘hoped he would move on,’ said one person familiar with the situation, adding that the board prefers to focus on ‘protecting the brand and taking the higher ground.’

Mr. Hurd resigned Friday over ethics violations related to his relationship with a former H-P marketing contractor, Jodie Fisher. His exit was immediately followed by hard-hitting comments from H-P executives and a board member. Mr. Hurd left with a separation agreement that included a $12.2 million cash payment and a promise not to disparage the company or ‘induce others’ to do so.

In the days bn, according to a person familiar with the matter, Mr. Hurd hired Sitrick & Co., a Los Angeles-based firm known for handling crisis communications for high-profile individuals, including former H-P chairman Patricia Dunn and celebrity Paris Hilton.”

What Not to Do When Blowing the Whistle [FINS]
Sure you can get paid the big bucks to sing like a canary these days but are some things you might want to consider first.

Black Accountants Group Names New Leader [Afro American]
“Calvin Harris Jr., was recently elected the 24th national president and CEO of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). NABA, a 501 c(3) nonprofit, is the leading association for African Americans and minorities in the accounting, audit, finance, information technology, tax, and other business related fields. Harris’s two-year term began July 1.”

Wipfli LLP: Washington state-based Michael R. Bell & Company, PLLC, joins Wipfli LLP [WisBusiness]
“Effective August 1, the partners and associates of Washington state-based Michael R. Bell & Company, PLLC, joined Wipfli LLP, an international CPA firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michael R. Bell & Company specializes in providing audit, accounting and consulting services to a variety of health care organizations and will become part of Wipfli’s full-service health care industry practice.”


Salesforce Customers Want Better Link to Accounting [Web CPA]
“A new survey of Salesforce.com customers found that the majority of them want to link more closely between their customer relationship management software and accounting software.

The survey, by Salesforce.com partner FinancialForce.com, found that 67 percent of those using competing packages cited a lack of integration of their current accounting software with customer relationship management software as their biggest headache.”

Rangel Says He Won’t Resign, Requests Ethics Hearing [Bloomberg]
Rangs gave a 30 minute speech yesterday to let everyone know that he’s far too old to just rollover for 13 alleged ethics violations.

Plum Benefit to Cultural Post: Tax-Free Housing [NYT]
Being a director of some of the best known museums in the world is not only lucrative (multi-million dollar salary), you can also get a pretty sweet pad – tax free!

Mickelson Has Arthritic Condition That Made Him Question His Golf Future [Bloomberg]
Rest easy T Fly, Phil says he’s back to 90% just in time for the PGA that starts tomorrow.

Accounting News Roundup: Dell Looks to Settle SEC Probe; BP’s Request for Tax Docs Causes Issues for Fishing Communities; Salesforce CFO: We Need Sales People! | 06.11.10

Dell, CEO Are in Talks to Settle SEC Probe [WSJ]
The SEC’s probe, launched in 2006, into Dell had initially focused on some accounting manipulation that has now ensnared founder and CEO Michael Dell focusing on disclosure and omissions related to Intel Corp. and negligence-based fraud charges.

The Journal reports that the possible fraud charges “suggests that the SEC may suspect that Mr. Dell unintentionally made statements that he should have known were misleading.”

In anticipation of the settlement, the company will restate its most recent earnings report, reducing its net income by $100 million.


The fishermen and the tax man [Los Angeles Times]
BP is requesting tax records from people in fishing communities in order process claims of lost work related to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Those seeking payment need to submit a commercial fishing license, proof of residence and tax statements. The problem is that many of these people do not keep tax records since they are paid in cash for their work.

More than 25,000 claims have been submitted so far and payments to about 12,000 have been made, totaling $36 million, according to the LA Times.

BP, through Graham MacEwan says that there’s a plan although like most of this crisis, the company isn’t sure how it will be fixed, “BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles has been telling parish council members over the past few days that if someone’s tax documents are not available, we will find other metrics. I don’t know exactly how we are going to do that yet.”

Salesforce CFO: Company Aggressively Hiring Sales Staff [Dow Jones]
Cloud trailblazer Salesforce.com is looking to add more sales personnel, having added 18,000 new customers over the last 12 months according to CFO Graham Smith.

Mr Smith also said the company is rolling out two new products in the near future including Chatter, a “a social-networking application for office collaboration” and VMforce, a collaboration with VMware, Inc. that will give Java developers a new way to deploy applications over the web.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…or: Cloud Computing and SaaS Briefly Explained

Figuring out how to sum up Cloud Computing and Software as a service (SaaS) in the space of ~800 words would absolutely require the biggest, puffiest, most cumulus metaphor that ever precipitated understanding over the dry, barren plains of ignorance EVER! Something like….

king Business Applications By Storm, or
– Burning off the Fog Around Cloud Computing, or
– Cloud Computing goes from Light Showers to Torrential Downpour, or even
– Quit Jiiiivin’ Me Turkey, You Got to SaaS it! (a Turkey is a bad person)

Why?

Because this thing is growing like a Class 5 Hurricane sucking up warm air over the Gulf of Mexico in mid-September, and you’re in the eye of the storm baby!


Enough! I can’t… I just can’t brew up another hackneyed metaphor!

All joking aside, Cloud Computing and SaaS are now “required reading” if you’re even remotely involved with technology (i.e. you use a computer). I can help you understand this stuff better, but first some disclosure:

I work for a SaaS company. My paycheck depends upon acceptance of this technology.

If you can accept this embedded bias, I’ll try to suppress any overt advocacy while providing a synopsis of this space over the course of the next few weeks. Call it Saas 101.

So, what is it?

We’ll get into this in more detail soon because there’s more to it, but very simply:

Software as a Service – A software application that you access online without having to download anything to your computer.

Cloud Computing – Provides computing power and data storage on an “as needed” basis much the same way as a public utility provides electricity.

Why should you care?

At the very least, you should care because you are already using this stuff for personal web activities (e.g. Facebook – think privacy, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, etc). And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the next software sourcing project your company undertakes will include Cloud and Saas representation.

This is a bet I’ll win because even the big, established players in the software world like IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft are running to try and get in front of this thing on the business side.

You want to know about this.

Where did it come from?

How did Software as a Service and Cloud Computing as we know it come about?

Well, what’s in a word?

Again, there’s more to it, but without rekindling the internecine nerd-fighting I think tracing the roots of this movement back to Marc Benioff, the founder, Chairman & CEO of Salesforce.com is not unreasonable for our purposes. He was arguably the most vocal advocate for looking at software delivery in a new way back before this stuff HAD a name. Salesforce.com launched as an unknown start-up back in 1999 and is now one of the leading CRM (Customer Relationship Management) products Cloud or otherwise and is traded on NYSE with a market cap of over $10 Billion.

Along with another early entrant, Netsuite, these guys let the genie out of the bottle. Interestingly, both companies have deep, deep roots back into Oracle Corp., Oracle, a company that, according to Oracle, “would change the face of business computing forever.” I don’t dispute the claim though. And I would take it one further saying, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The Rain Fell in Torrents…

The creation of Salesforce and Netsuite were both extremely capital intensive. In order to host their customers (i.e. users of the software), tens of millions of dollars were required to build the data center infrastructure. You’re not required to buy servers and hardware, so where do you think all your data is residing? In a cloud? We haven’t advanced that far.

But we have advanced.

Today companies building Cloud apps don’t tend to build their own data centers, at least not right off the hop. Another important innovation in Cloud comes from companies like Amazon. Apart from books, Amazon has a whole other line of business providing computer infrastructure on a rental basis. It’s like a power grid for computing.

This changes the business model for companies who build software in the same way these Cloud app companies are changing things for you.

Suddenly, your IT goes from being a Fixed Cost to a Variable Cost.

More next week.

Enjoy!

Geoff Devereux as been active in Vancouver’s technology start-up community for the past 5 years. He regularly attends and contributes to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city through the Vancouver Enterprise Forum, guest blogging on Techvibes.com, and as a mentor with ISS of BC. Prior to getting lured into tech start-ups, Geoff worked in various fields including a 5 year stint in a tax accounting firm. He is currently working in a marketing/social media role with Indicee, a Saas Business Intelligence company, bringing B.I. to mere mortals.