Intuit upgrades Quicken even as it seeks buyer for the iconic software

Intuit upgrades Quicken even as it seeks buyer for the iconic software

Quicken 2016 for Windows and Mac ships, but no word on whether the 32-year-old personal finance program will find a new home

Intuit on Tuesday released Quicken 2016, the newest version of its 32-year-old personal finance program, even as it is in the midst of trying to sell that part of its portfolio to focus on cloud-based tax and small business accounting services.

Quicken 2016, with separate editions for Microsoft's Windows and Apple's OS X, was priced at between $40 and $165. The most popular version, Quicken Deluxe, costs $75. Those with earlier editions will get a $10 discount if they upgrade.

Although Intuit typically rolls out its annual Quicken upgrades in September or October, the company delayed 2016's release to polish the code, said Eric Dunn, the executive who runs the Quicken division. "They [were] good, but we want[ed] them to be really good," said Dunn in a recorded video to customers, referring to the decision to go with a later launch.

Previously, Intuit had said that even though it was shopping the Quicken unit to potential buyers, it would release a 2016 edition, and would continue to support, maintain and develop the product until it finds a buyer.

Oddly, Dunn never once mentioned the divesture of his unit in the video posted to Intuit's website. A signal that customers noticed that absence -- and didn't appreciate the lack of information -- showed in the "votes" the video had received by late Thursday; two-thirds were "No" to the question "Was this helpful?"

Since shortly after the August announcement by Intuit that it was going to sell the Quicken group, the firm has not provided any additional information to customers on the FAQ it published at the time.

Nor did CEO Brad Smith reveal any new information about the sale in an interview with the The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday. During the interview, he called Quicken users "trackers" rather than "doers."

"It's one of the most iconic brands out there, but it's 2% of our revenue and the customer base hasn't grown for 20 years," Smith told the newspaper, referring to Quicken. "It is just an incredibly loyal customer base, and it solves an important problem for a small group of people, and we want to go out and solve big problems that aren't getting solved well. We had to move from trackers to doers, who want to have a reminder, something buzzing in your pocket."

In its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week for the quarter ending Oct. 31, Intuit said that the products it was putting on the block -- Quicken, Demandforce and QuickBase -- generated $59 million in revenue, a 3% decline from the same period in 2014.

Overall, the company boosted revenue for the quarter by 17%, to $713 million, and boasted that it had increased the subscriber count of QuickBooks Online by 57% to nearly 1.2 million. Smith's claim that Quicken was just 2% of Intuit's total would have translated to $14.3 million for the quarter.

But the SEC filing made it easy to see why Intuit was dumping Quicken, or any money-losing product for that matter: Company-wide losses for the October quarter came to $29 million.

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