Overview: Micahel Jackson takes on Sage

Michael Jackson, Sage

Michael Jackson, Sage

It may be a case of ‘don’t stop till you get enough’. Michael Jackson, a
businessman who has probably had his fair share of cheesy references to his
name, could be about to take on the company ­ Sage ­ that he used to chair.

Jackson (pictured) wants to be starting something, taking a stake in a small
software company. The aim is to head for the SME financial software market,
dominated by Sage.

What’s happened…

Jackson qualified as a chartered accountant with Coopers and Lybrand, and
joined Sage’s board in 1983. Becoming chairman in 1997, he took the company from
a £1m turnover through various acquisitions and restructuring to its current
£3bn, before his departure in 2006.

Jackson now runs Elderstreet Investment Limited (an investment vehicle he
founded in 1990). He now plans to spend some of Elderstreet’s money on various
accounting software technology companies.

Elderstreet already has a stake in NetStore ­ the application service
provider that manages its customers’ software on a per-use, per-month basis over
the internet, supporting services such as Logica and Business Objects ­ but its
plans are far more ambitious.

What’s going to happen?

According to Jackson, there are opportunities in technology. ‘There is a move
towards subscription-based software and social networking sites. Technology is
now more web-centric, there are new types of business models forming, but the
models are mainly gearing towards rental rather than subscription,’ he said.

Jackson wants to take a stake in a small company. Though he does not himself
say the company will take on Sage, which has five-and-a-half million
subscribers, he and others will certainly be nipping at the software giant’s

Sage has come under fire from critics for being slow in integrating software
as a service (SaaS), which allows customers to use hosted remote servers and
paid for on use, similar to utility bills. Add to that CODA’s recent launch of
Coda2go aimed at the SME market and Sage is facing a challenge.

Customers only need a broadband connection and multiple user technology to
get started with Coda2go’s SaaS, making it far more flexible than other products
since there are no long-term contracts involved. ‘SMEs didn’t have the proper
access to broadband or the web and now that that has opened up, the market is
gaining momentum,’ says Jackson.

Will Sage be crying ‘Leave me alone’ once it’s all over?

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