Oracle is lending its name to and making unabashed use of the NetLedger application suite in its bid to attract small businesses and make them potential future Oracle customers. But NetLedger says it will remain independent.
NetLedger started out as a supplier of small business accounting applications online, www.netledger.com. It has done such a good job of it that it has taken a step closer to being assimilated by the company of its majority investor, Larry Ellisons Oracle Corp.
When you go to netledger.com, you are shifted to a www.oraclesmallbusiness.com site that heralds the "Oracle Small Business Suite powered by NetLedger." Oracle is lending its name to and making unabashed use of the NetLedger application suite in its bid to attract small businesses and make them potential future Oracle customers. The NetLedger suite is not integrated with the Oracle database or applications, but the firm is moving toward establishing links with the Oracle eBusiness application suite.
Meanwhile, the "Oracle" branding associates Oracle with NetLedgers small business application services.
NetLedger also gives Oracle an effective foil to Microsofts acquisition and marketing of Great Plains accounting software. But NetLedger remains separate, said Evan Goldberg, president and CEO.
"We plan to remain independent," insists Goldberg, who doesnt rule out the possibility of an IPO. "Larry wants a company with a laser focus on capturing small business customers," he said. Goldberg, for one, doesnt foresee being absorbed into the larger company, even though www.oraclesmallbusiness.com blurs the line between the two.
NetLedger has defined its target customer as a small business, one with one to 250 employees, which means NetLedger, with 250 employees, is pushing the margin and faces the prospect of becoming a medium sized company serving small businesses.
With Ellison owning 55-60 percent of NetLedger, the two companies agreed June 26 to jointly offer the small business suite, which NetLedger recently expanded to include Sales Force Automation, Advanced Shipping and Receiving and Customer Support Management, as well as the existing accounting and human resources.
With the Sales Force Automation application, a small business can track leads, assign leads to territories, process sales orders and access customer transaction history either in the office or from a remote location.
The Customer Support Management module allows a service department to generate a record of customer case management, including processing an order, tracking a delivery and other service operations.
Advanced Shipping and Receiving lets a small business set up a warehouse employee role. The warehouse employee handles all details of shipping and receiving without a separate, onsite shipping and receiving software system. "We use the Internet as our server rather than maintaining a Unix server at the customer site," Goldberg said. The warehouse employee can look at open sales orders, print picking tickets, packing slips and return forms. And he can mark items as shipped.
NetLedger started out offering accounting applications at $4.99 a month. It expanded the suite and charged $9.99 a month. Now with the additional modules and Oracle joint marketing, it is charging $99 a month, with two users having access to the applications, Goldberg said.
"Its a significant increase," he said, but the applications now represent a more comprehensive, integrated suite. To match them, a small business would have to buy applications from several different vendors and get them running on its own or through a consultant. "Its like buying a car and then hiring a mechanic to get it to run," claimed Goldberg.
NetLedger will be at Oracle World at the Moscone Center in San Francisco in early December to participate in the Oracle World user groups small business day. "We could never have staged small business day just as NetLedger," Goldberg said, noting the symbiotic relationship with Oracle.
With a majority share of NetLedger, Ellison "jokes that he has more control over us than over his own company," Goldberg said.