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Article from AboveTheCrowd.

This morning, Intuit announcedits agreement to acquire one of Benchmark’s portfolio companies, Demandforce, for $424mm. As with Instagram, Benchmark Capital is the largest institutional investor in Demandforce. Unlike Instagram, which is a consumer application and is extremely well known, Demandforce focuses on local professional businesses and has chosen to keep an intentionally low profile – a strategy that has served them well.

Great entrepreneurs often blaze their own trails, and the founder and CEO of Demandforce, Rick Berry, is no different. In a day and age of social media, where many companies project a persona much larger than reality, Demandforce chose instead to focus on its customers and its products. We never even announced Benchmark’s funding of the company, which I believe is unprecedented. The Demandforce team always felt that the attention should be focused on the customer rather than the company.

Demandforce’s customer mission has always been the same – to help small businesses thrive in an evolving and increasingly complex connected world. Today, they are the leading provider of interactive “front office” SAAS services to thousands and thousands of professional small business owners. The Demandforce product is a powerful web-based application that seamlessly integrates with existing workflow systems, works automatically, and delivers guaranteed results. Through this, Demandforce provides local businesses – like salons, auto shops, chiropractors, dentists, and veterinarians – with affordable and easy access to the tools and platforms that large enterprises use to communicate with customers, build a strong online reputation and leverage network marketing. It you have ever received an automated communication from your dentist, it was likely sent through Demandforce.

Demandforce’s success puts it at the forefront of the burgeoning “Local Internet” wave. The combination of Internet pervasiveness and smartphone penetration has led to a complete reconfiguration with regard to how local businesses interact with their customers. These local businesses have traditionally spent over $125B/year on traditional media, and this is only in the U.S. But the channels they have historically used, such as the newspaper and the yellow pages, are increasingly compromised. These business owners know they need new solutions, and these dollars will be reallocated to these exciting new platforms. Benchmark believes this “Local Internet” wave is many times larger than the “social” and “mobile” themes with which it is often contrasted. In addition to DemandForce, Benchmark is fortunate to have backed such “Local Internet” market leaders as OpenTable (OPEN), Zillow (Z), Yelp (YELP), Peixe Urbano, GrubHub, Uber, and Nextdoor.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Rick Berry, Patrick Barry, Hoang Vuong, Mark Hale, Sam Osman and Annie Tsai at Demandforce. This is truly one of the best teams ever assembled. It was also a pleasure to work with Steve Kostyshen as well as Mike Maples of Floodgate and Peter Ziebelman of Palo Alto Venture Partners, all of whom preceded us in their investment, and all of whom are passionate fans of the company.

It is certainly thrilling to see a team of entrepreneurs reach a significant milestone such as this.  That said, it is equally bittersweet as it means we will no longer be working directly with them on this incredibly compelling mission. Our loss is unquestionably Brad Smith and Intuit’s gain. Combining the leading “front office” small business SAAS vendor with the iconic Silicon Valley small business company is an incredibly compelling combination.

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Here is some good market analysis in regards to topics we covered earlier in the week by way of ITWorld.

“September 17, 2009, 07:33 PM —  IDG News Service —

Optimism about IT helped boost stock exchanges to 2009 highs this week as tech-sector mergers and acquisitions and news about improving demand for hardware buoyed investor confidence.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index hit 2133 on Wednesday, its highest level for 2009, well above the 1630 mark at the start of the year and its low of 1268.64 on March 9. Nasdaq computer stocks were up 50 percent for the year, while Nasdaq telecom stocks were up 48 percent for the year. The broader Dow Jones Composite Index was up 10 percent for 2009.

M&A activity has fueled investor excitement about the tech sector. While the recession has killed the market for leveraged buyouts and private equity deals this year, there has been a steady stream of acquisitions among tech companies, many of which have large coffers of cash.

In one of the larger tech deals announced recently, Adobe said late Tuesday it will acquire Web analytics company Omniture for US$1.8 billion in cash. Adobe said it will incorporate Omniture technology into its own Web-development and document-creation products. Adobe is paying a 45 percent premium over Omniture’s share price, which may account for the immediate reaction to the deal: Adobe shares slipped by $2.27 to close at $33.35 Wednesday.

However, M&A often stokes investor excitement because it is seen as a sign of industry confidence in certain technologies. Vendors will buy companies in order to quickly ramp up in areas of technology that they believe are taking off.

For example, Intuit — the leading personal finance software developer — on Monday announced it would pay $170 million for startup Mint.com. Though Intuit has successfully battled Microsoft Money for years, the company has not had a response to various Web-based financial tools that have sprung up lately. Mint offers free tools to help consumers gather and analyze personal financial information. While Intuit shares dipped by $0.07 to close at $27.78 Tuesday, they bounced back up to $27.89 Wednesday.”

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Here is an article from Web CPA.

“Intuit has signed a deal to acquire personal finance site Mint.com for approximately $170 million cash.

The privately held Web site, based like Intuit in Mountain View, Calif., has gained popularity, especially among young people who use it to keep track of their spending and budgets. Intuit has been expanding its array of online services as part of its “connected services” strategy. The company said it plans to keep operating both Mint.com and its own personal finance site, Quicken Online.

Mint.com will become the primary online personal finance management service that Intuit will offer directly to consumers. Quicken Online will connect Quicken customers via the desktop, Web and mobile phone. After the transaction is completed in the fourth quarter, Mint.com will become part of Intuit’s consumer group, which includes both the company’s Quicken and TurboTax products.

“With this transaction, Intuit will gain another fast-growing consumer brand and a highly successful software-as-a-service offering that helps people save and make money,” said Intuit CEO Brad Smith in a statement. “This move will enhance Intuit’s position as a leading provider of consumer SaaS offerings that connect customers across desktop, online and mobile.”

Launched in September 2007, Mint.com has attracted over 1.5 million users. The site claims to track nearly $200 billion in transactions and $50 billion in assets. Mint.com has received over $17 million in financing from venture capital firms including Shasta Ventures, Benchmark Capital, First Round Capital, DAG Ventures and Sherpalo Ventures”

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