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Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. His business interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property to technology. As a technology commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and extensively online. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

More about Ben here.

25 responses to “All’s Fair in Love and War – Ubikwiti Pushing Hard”

  1. Zoli Erdos

    Here's a somewhat ironic screen capture from Ubikwiti's site:

    Offering a single-user solution priced per user  … I suppose they might as well price it for unlimited users :-)

  2. DuaneJackson

    Thanks for publishing my commments, Ben. Even if I didn’t get any link love : )

    Your title is wrong though. They’re not “pushing hard”. They’re “pushing wrong”.

    This approach, along with their blog, displays the underlying thinking of whoever is running the show. I doubt they’ll get far with that kind of approach and mentality. I suspect that in 6 months time they’ll still be just a footnote.

    I also bet this blog post is the most worthwhile coverage they’ll get from the press release.

    It’s a shame really. The more people in this space that are adding value (both in the blogosphere and by increasing the market size) the better.

  3. Matt Chatterley

    I must cannibalise part of this post and adopt it.

    “there’s only so much fail a person can handle in one sitting!” – I love it. Perfect summary.

    Ubikwiti? Fail.

    “Epicness” level of fail: TBD.

  4. Paul H

    Cheeky buggers =]

    Duane’s creating a bigger pie approach is smart. In such a young market you are not trying to promote just your own product but also promote the benefits of the SaaS approach as opposed to boxed software.

    Ubikwiki – is a fail starting with their brand name

    (Although one can easily criticise Zero and CashFlow for their choice of 1st letters =] )

  5. Saas marketing wars | AccMan

    [..] Earlier today I saw a post on Cloud Ave whereBen Kepes had ran with some clear baiting material. The old shoot first, ask questions later method of reporting. Ben had used the material he had as an intro to a sort of review about [..]

  6. Tim Loving

    Before I respond to your request for an interview (already responded to by email} here’s my response to your blog:

    Hi,

    Before I do that, I’d like to know a bit more about you, the popularity and geographic spread of your blog, and whether you have any commercial links with Xero or Zoho (e.g. are you one of their partners/ consultants/investors, etc.)

    I read your last blog. It appeared to me to be extremely biased. Either that or it was so rushed to meet a deadline you couldn’t be bothered to subscribe to fundamental standards of research and reportage. You obviously haven’t understood the thrust of our Xero offer – yes, it’s correct that it targets Xero single business, single-user companies. We are NOT, repeat NOT comparing it with a standard Xero multi-user account. If you are able to, please point out whatever it was in our press release that drew you to that conclusion.

    The only reasonable and unbiased rationale for you to say what you did is to grossly distort and misrepresent the facts, supported (but not particularly ably) by your team of vested interest Xero “commentators”.

    If you truly believe that our press release is “dodgy marketing” and if you think that competition is about “building the pie before we try and steal slices off each other”, you are both incorrect and incredibly naïve. Do you really think there is any logical difference in (a) Xero taking a customer from Intuit QuickBooks, and (b) Ubikwiti taking a customer from Xero? Of course there isn’t. It’s part of the global capitalist free-enterprise system called competition, something from which you appear to have been excessively sheltered from in your socialistic, cradle-to-grave, South-Western Pacific never-ever land. Poor New Zealand! Can’t stand the heat in the global competitive marketplace! You can’t even keep your good rugby players (and coaches!) these days. And when you get to a critical World Cup match these days, you choke! And I’m an All Black supporter….

    Alternatively, (and more probably, in my assessment) you have some other vested interest to promote. I fancy the latter, since your screen shots indicate a level of apparent incompetence by you that’s frankly unbelievable in someone with your alleged credentials.

    Screen Shot 1: You must have entered an invalid ID or password, hence the error message.
    Screen Shot 2: You must have selected one of the sample accounts “Penny”, otherwise, the screen would not display Penny as the username.
    Screen Shot 3: I can’t think what you did with the DIY-GUI; you must have worked assiduously to find a component that doesn’t yet support the DIY-GUI feature. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible you clicked on the DIY-GUI button on the U-KwikStart. At the moment the DIY-GUI button is accessible from virtually all other screens other than U-KwikStart on the reasonable assumption that people will need to try the default screens before they engage in modifying them
    All in all, your article appears to me to be a shallow and deliberate attempt to discredit our software, hence my question above about your affiliations.

    I’m the primary editor of the Ubikwiti blog. I went to school when English grammar and English literature were mandatory subjects. Not the case, I suspect, with you, judging by the structure, research and composition of your blog. Ubikwiti’s blog subjects are specifically chosen for their timeliness and relevance to the major changes taking place in the global environment, and their consequential and/or tangential effect on SaaS and Cloud Computing. Believe it of not, our target audience is not pointy-headed techos, nor is it accountants. Both do not (fortunately) make up the majority of people in business.

    We are endeavoring (successfully I think) to apprise and inform reasonably intelligent business people of the major issues that affect their lives, and coincidentally, their decisions about business technologies. We do not use our blog as a blatant advertising medium for our own products. Of course, we do not originate all our blog articles. Neither do we claim to, as a quick glance at our blog header will indicate. We do, however, always credit original sources, and quite clearly, from our own blog console statistics, we can see that we generate additional traffic for the original sources. So there’s nothing underhand or sneaky about what we do, and I resent any implication that there is.

    If you took the trouble to read and understand our most recent blog “In God We Trust – others pay cash”, you will see that it is a digest of Warren Buffett’s 30-page article to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. We credit the source of the material, but what we do for readers is extract what we consider to be points relevant to the economy, the financial outlook, and, by implication, what that means to business and technology (especially the accelerating trend to SaaS and Cloud Computing, although we don’t make that point in our digest.)

    Frankly, I don’t give a monkey’s f***k about the interior of the ICAEW Building in London, nor, do I believe, do most other people. There is a major, irreversible and accelerating change taking place in the global environment. A small part of that change affects information technology. An even smaller part affects SaaS and Cloud Computing. If you don’t understand the global strategic issues, please go back to focusing on whatever techo endeavor puts food on your table.

    Finally, since you appear to like them, here are some screen shots for you:

    1.

    Google

    Advanced Search
    Preferences

    Search: the web pages from Australia

    Results 1 – 10 of about 952,000 for ubikwiti. (0.29 seconds)

    2.

    Google

    Advanced Search
    Preferences

    Search: the web pages from Australia

    Web

    Results 1 – 10 of about 160,000 for Xero account. (0.08 seconds)

    If you are really interested in engaging in a serious and productive debate, I’m happy to do so. Based on what you have written so far, I think you don’t the capability to independently and fairly engage in such a debate. But first questions first – give me a true and full list of your affiliations, financially-rewarded or otherwise.

    Tim Loving

    CEO

    Ubikwiti Ltd

  7. Ben Kepes

    Nice rant Tim. Right… now to answer your questions. Zoho sponsors CloudAve (that should be obvious to anyone). That is my only commercial relationship with any of the SaaS vendors I review. Funnily enough last week I was accused of being a shill for FreshBooks – man I seem to get around ;-)
    I’m neither an investor in, nor a consultant to, Xero.

    Anyway – the single business, single offer you talk about is in fact not a standard Xero product (standard Xero product is multi user) but is something they do for their accountant partners who (generally it seems) give the product away for free as a value add with their services.

    I believe there is a difference between Xero taking a QB customer and you “poaching” xero customers – my view which, as a commentator, I am entitled to.

    Anyway – here’s a full list of my affiliations…

    1) Zoho sponsors CloudAve, does not in fact pay me but covers my travel to the odd conference
    2) There is no two

    Re my experience with ubikwiti – the errors I found were created in exactly the way I said

    When you’re finished throwing around obscenities and criticisms you’re more than welcome to come talk… As to you suggesting I go back to whatever techo endeavour puts food on the table… actually food on the table is grown largely by myself on a small acreage and in a house I built with my own hands – low tech but raw (oh and no, Xero didn’t pay for my house either)
    ;-)

  8. Michael S

    Fail

    How on earth is “ubikwiti” vs “Xero account” a fair google comparison?

    “ubikwiti Account” and “Xero Account” Xero wins
    “ubikwiti Accounting” and “Xero Accounting” Xero wins

  9. Tim Loving

    If you believe in the principle of Occam’s Razor, a fair comparison would be typing in “Xero” in Google search and comparing that result with “Ubikwiti”. However typing “Xero” gets “Xerox” plus a bunch of other Xeros other than the one in question.

  10. Ben Kepes

    It’s a shockingly poor metric but… just to be fair I Googled “Xero accounting” and got 35700 results. “Ubikwiti accounting” got me 12600….

    Not that it means much anyway….

  11. Tim Loving

    Ben,

    According to our log center, you completed setting up your company at at the Home Page at 17:22.33, and stopped at 17:22:56. 26 seconds to do a considered review? You are unbelievably fast…..

    You also did a test drive on the sample account containing data (Penny@gmail.com) at 17:37:29.

    You apparently tried to DIY-GUI from the Activity center – that’s not allowed, for fairly obvious reasons.

    Did it cross your mind to contact Ubikwiti support with your questions and comments before you rushed into your blogging to make some cheap shots? Apparently not…

    So my original views about the way you did your three screen comments are in fact correct.

    My “rant” (look it up in the OED and you might be a little more careful in your use of words) was an appropriate response to what can now be seen to be an unfair, sloppy and biased blog by you. And you still don’t appear to get what we meant by our offer to single company, single-user Xero users. Are you saying there no such creature? If so, Xero have nothing to worry about, have they?

    Let the market decide what they think about out offer. But let them do so without hasty and inaccurate sniping from people like you. Note well, we have never made a single criticism of Xero.

    We’re happy to leave it to the market to decide which product offers them more value, in their particular circumstances.

  12. Jason Hudson

    I’m the MD of an online accounting software provider, in direct competition with KashFlow, Xero, MYOB, etc.

    I find it disappointing that we SaaS providers are taking cheap shots at each other (and at the box providers also). We are hurting ourselves because we need the world to see us as mature, trustworthy and friendly. To do so, we must resist highlighting the failings of our competitors, and instead, talk about our own strengths.

    A case in point is the difficulty logging into Ubikwititi. Did anyone try calling them and ask what happened to cause these problems. I think not and that’s not fair. If my service failed, I would hope that the person who was about to write a negative blog would be nice enough to call and get my story.

    I urge all of you to write about your own service, and if you want to be critical of others, make sure you are willing to apply the same standards to your own business. The next time your service is down, or a simple feature crashes, write a blog about it, add some screen shots, highlight the gory details, and actively publicize your poor performance.

    Overall, we rely on the leading firms such as KashFlow and Xero to boost the industry image and to keep on proving the SaaS model.

    A final point, the next time you want to circle something on a screen shot, please use a tool to do so. Its quicker, cleaner, and won’t end up looking like you were using lipstick. SnagIt is one option.

  13. Ben Kepes

    @Jason – my lipstick artistry was me being creative ;-)

    @Tim – as I mentioned both in my post and in reply to your comment, this was not a considered review. I intend to do one of those at a later stage. 26 seconds was in fact how long it took for your system to give me three errors. Unbelievably fast? And re your linguistics help – cheers, I’ll take that under advisement…

  14. Ben Kepes

    @Jason – once again I remind everyone that my post was about what I contend are dodgy-ish marketing techniques that Ubikwiti utilised – not about their service problems. Sorry if it got derailed by the passions aroused….

    (BTW – keen to have a chat – drop me a line)

  15. Lance Wiggs

    There is a bit too much ad hominem attacking here, and not enough of what could be an interesting comparative discussion. I’d be interested in following that.

    Consider a future where two of the companies combine – would you all get along?.

    The real competitor here is offline.

  16. Dennis Howlett

    @ben – you should not be surprised when a vendor gets upset at this kind of thing. They have the server logos so can easily hang you out to dry. I said on my own blog I suspected you’d hit the ‘Penny’ example (I said by mistake). Lo and behold that’s exactly what you did.

    As regards your contention that “I remind everyone that my post was about what I contend are dodgy-ish marketing techniques” has it crossed your mind that by using a competitive source you were automatically putting your foot in dodgy territory? And if that’s the case then why the editorializing? And what about the non-review.

    @jason – I 100% agree with you and I’m glad someone said it. For more check this: http://www.accmanpro.com/2009/03/03/saas-marketing-wars/

  17. Ben Kepes

    Just to reiterate…. this from my post…

    “I’ll review more later but it seems Ubikwiti is a PaaS/SaaS offering that’s trying to build a small business version of salesforce’s force.com and the salesforce appexchange by building a marketplace, offering some basic building blocks, and allowing other companies to create their own apps to use on the platform. At an initial glance I really like the concept of what they appear to be wanting to do – but concept and actuality are two very different things…”

  18. David Terrar

    @Tim – I’m sorry, but it reads like a rant to me (and I can find the dictionary too). I can absolutely understand why you wrote it, but I think sticking to the facts without trying to insult Ben, the All Blacks, New Zealand, the ICAEW and the vartiou others who might be alinenated by the tone of your comments might be a better way to get your point across.

    @Jason – well said! I run the UK territory for Dutch online accounting provider Twinfield (Ben will be doing a review soon). Duane from Kashflow, Hamish from Xero and a whole bunch of us get together regularly to talk about how we can pool some of our resources to propmote the SaaS topic to the accounting world here in the UK. We’re forming the Intellect SaaS group – more on that sometime soo. We’re competitors – we still compete head to head with some passion, but we also see the advantage in working together to try and increase the overall size of the online accounting market so there is a bigger pie for all of us.

    We really don’t need to be taking pot shots at each other, unless there are good grounds for the argument.

    I’m looking forward to Ben’s review of Ubikwiiti, and finding out more.

  19. David Terrar

    I’ve just been speaking to Ben on the skype back channel, and I want to clarify something here.

    I can understand why Tim would have a negative reaction to this piece. I think Ben’s piece does not come across as fair and balanced (as I told him on skyp), and so if I didn’t know Ben I might be a bit suspicious too. However, a few seconds of web research shows Ben’s connections and the sponsorship of this blog. It’s perfectly reasonable for him to be a “supporter” of Xero as a home grown NZ company. It’s also valid that Ben should express an opinion on the Ubikwiti marketing campaign for the negative overtones. As I said above, we should spend more time promoting the Cloud topic rather than fighting each other.

  20. Tim Loving

    David,for the record, I’m a Kiwi and I support the ABs against all comers. No offence intended to ICAEW – I was referring to a blog post about their building, not the organisation.

  21. Krishnan Subramanian

    One thing that surprised me here is that Ben is a blogger and not an analyst. Bloggers are supposed to express their biases and thatz the reason for existence of the blogging platform. It is only reasonable to expect an objective analysis from an Analyst and not a Blogger. Moreover, I think Ben has made his biases and frame of mind explicit in this post. It is sad that a blogger’s personal opinion has lead to personal attacks on one’s nationality.

  22. Ben Kepes

    OK everyone – we’ve all had a nights sleep and got over this one. I emailed Tim and, while apologising for any offence I caused, stood by my comments.

    I’ll be reviewing Ubikwiti at a later date and the review (like all the reviews I do) will be independent, neutral, unbiased, untainted…. you get the drift.

    Thanks for the support and otherwise – as they say in marketing, any attention is good attention

  23. @ben

    you’ve already hoisted your colors….

  24. David Terrar

    @Tim,
    Cool – I’m looking forward to finding out more about Ubikwiti and connecting with you somewhen. :)

  25. Ubikwiti - Review | CloudAve

    [..] Earlier this week apostof mine generated some very heated exchanges, both public and private. As I mentioned in that post (which was a quick comment on some PR material rather than a product review), I wanted to review the product in question as soon as practicable. In that light here follows my review, completely untarnished by the aforementioned exchanges. [..]