Steve Bennett – Symantec Chairman, CEO and My Friend at Intuit / QuickBooks

Filed in Intuit QuickBooks, Outsourcing, Payroll, Tax, Savings, Xero by on August 4, 2012

Steve Bennett, the new (Norton) Symantec Chairman and CEO, was my good friend while holding these positions at the much smaller Intuit.

I became very popular with Intuit top executives by providing thousands of QuickBooks news group and forum answers, praising Intuit or QuickBooks, visiting Intuit and winning two QuickBooks beta test contests. I also were justified some Intuit price increases or lapses by saying that it was making very little compared to other software companies, despite near monopolies with Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax.

A winning boycott for tax table fees on each copy of QuickBooks, not on each QuickBooks company, made me temporarily unpopular. Part of this involved a program that told QuickBooks that its tax tables were current, when they were not. It shocked the Ukrainian programmer when he learned he could sell this program and keep related revenue, though I conceived it, paid him for it and publicized its availability, without revealing that it was mine. Intuit quickly dropped the increase, which cost it dearly. This actually may have been a big reason Steve became Intuit CEO.

In his eight  years, Intuit sales and profits rose incredibly (three and four times respectively). This mainly related to his Six Sigma focus on quality and costs, rather than big price increases, as often noted in my posts. That is no longer the case, as shown by recent QuickBooks ProAdvisor price increase discussions ($698 to $803, 151 comments already).

Despite my boycott, Steve later let me on the first QuickBooks Advisory Council. While on the Council, I began leading a TurboTax boycott over copy protection, which did not affect my ProSeries version of TurboTax. Steve quickly took steps to end the boycott, including accepting my suggestion that users get (on request) a copy-protection-free program after April 15, for 10 years. Rich Walker recently got a user such a copy a few days ago.

Steve did not dump me from the Council, as feared. He also did not stop responding promptly to my many emails. He instead used his amazing ability to engage others in intensely appropriate personal ways. He wrote me this after a Council meeting:

Keep raising hell when Intuit does something wrong!

As I gasped over it, other Council members were gasping over what he wrote them. That is why Steve’s message will always remain at the top of my BlockTax website.

When Symantec announced Steve’s new jobs, this went out from me:

From: Michael Block CPA []

Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2012 01:11 PM
To: Steve Bennett
Subject: Congratulations

Hi Steve

No matter how much I like Brad, I was always very sorry to see you leave Intuit. It was terrible for Intuit. If there is ever any way I can help, beyond buying more Symantec products, please let me know. 


Steve replied promptly (as usual):

 From: Steve Bennett 
Sent: 07/29/2012 5:46 PM
To: Michael Block CPA
Subject: Re: Congratulations

Mike… Your email means a lot to me… Thanks for the kind words… Drinking from the fire hose as you can imagine but having a lot of fun… 

Stay in touch… Hope all is well with you… Steve


This followed:

From: Michael Block CPA
Sent: 07/29/2012 8:56 PM
To: 'Steve Bennett'
Subject: RE: Congratulations

Hi Steve

It is amazing that leaders like you still find time for responses like this, though that may be part of the reason you are such good leaders.

All is very well with me. I am now #2 in the U.S. for Xero clients, with 156% more this month. That is even better than Xero did (100% more paid users in 10 months), but I expect big things from Ian Vacin (former QuickBooks ProAdvisor head). I complained that Xero had too many setup questions. Xero CEO Rod Drury quickly said Ian was already hard at work simplifying and initial results were out in days.

Can I publicize this?


Steve instantly responded, as he did to my similar Intuit request years earlier:

From: Steve Bennett
Sent: 07/29/2012 9:03 PM
To: Michael Block CPA
Subject: Re: Congratulations



To me this meant we should soon start hearing very good things about Symantec. In fact, we already have:

Is New Symantec CEO Steve Bennett Worth $1.5 Billion? Not A Chance

The somewhat surprising July 25 announcement that Enrique Salim's three-year tenure as Symantec CEO had ended — and the reign of Chairman Steve Bennett had begun — put the lead change front and center. And that was on top of Symantec's fiscal Q1 earnings announcement. Trading volume nearly five times the norm and a 13% jump in share price were proof that the news captured the attention of investors. But what's really changed to warrant a $1.5 billion (give or take) increase in company value?


A $1.5 billion dollar increase in Symantec stock value, in only a few days, may seem extreme for the immediate value of one man. However, Symantec rose about 5% more since this narrow-minded uninformed writer probably wrote his story. Based on Steve’s past performance with Intuit, even this does not begin to reflect his true value. As he quickly increases the Symantec bottom line, by an expected four or more times, investors will keep buying at far higher prices.

That is why my best wishes continue to go to Steve Bennett, Symantec Chairman, CEO and my friend.

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