Serial entrepreneur sells his second firm

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 08:27 13/07/2012
Mike Chisholm
MIKE CHISHOLM: The entrepreneur has sold specialist accounting firm software company Acclipse, which he founded in 2004.

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A Christchurch entrepreneur has done it again, building up an accounting services business and selling it for a tidy - but this time secret - sum.

Mike Chisholm founded specialist accounting firm software company Acclipse in 2004, now it has 55 staff and services more than 1000 beancounting companies on both sides of the Tasman.

Yesterday, industry publisher CCH announced it will buy Acclipse and it expected to wind up the sale by today.

CCH is a subsidiary of Amsterdam-listed multinational Wolters Kluwer which turned over [Euro]3.35 billion (NZ$5.15b) last year. Chisholm sold his first accounting startup, CA-Systems, to MYOB in 1999 for $18 million in cash and $4m of shares.

By his own admission, Chisholm no longer needed to work after that and could have enjoyed an early retirement. However, after a few years of venture capital investing and working for MYOB, he thought he could create a better system for accountants and their clients.

Acclipse wanted to create a system that benefited both the accountants and their customers, and the proliferation of cloud-based technology meant it was now possible, he said.

Acclipse was the only fully cloud-based accounting firm software on the market.

"I believe we're out there with the next generation of accounting software, that accounting firms want and I know they want it because they're buying it."

CCH would not say how much it shelled out for Acclipse. In 2008, Acclipse had about 40 staff and 9000 users of its software in Australasia with a turnover of $4m to $5m. Today, Acclipse has about 10,000 users under the 1000 companies it services.

Chisholm said he had retread his old path because of his passion for the work and the technological possibilities.

With the information stored on the cloud, businesses can access their accounts from their premises - or on the move using smartphones and tablets - rather than the information being tied up on an accountant's computer, he said.

Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific chief executive and president Russell Evans said Acclipse would be the linchpin of the company's CCH iFirm product, a cloud-based system with everything from software, workpapers, templates and information for accounting firms.

"CCH knows that accounting firms are trusted advisers to SMEs," he said.

"The Acclipse suite, which was designed from the ground up to help accountants better service their clients, will lie at the heart of what we do."

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Chisholm will remain at the head of Acclipse as chief executive. All Acclipse staff will be kept on.

- The Press

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