The Motley Fool's readers have spoken, and I have heeded your cries. After months of pointing out CEO gaffes and faux pas, I've decided to make it a weekly tradition to also point out corporate leaders who are putting the interests of shareholders and the public first and are generally deserving of praise from investors. For reference, here is last week's selection.
This week, I want to recognize software company Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU ) and its CEO, Brad Smith, for doing an exemplary job for shareholders, its employees, and the community.
Kudos to you, Mr. Smith
For years, Intuit has been a leading name in financial software applications for small businesses and individual users with its Quicken and QuickBooks applications for managing personal finances. Its fortunes really changed, however, when it introduced TurboTax, a do-it-yourself tax application that walks users through their own taxes. In Intuit's first quarter, it reported another 12% pop in revenue, thanks mostly to growth from small businesses.
As a TurboTax faithful myself, let me tell you I can understand fully why other tax preparers are suffering. H&R Block (NYSE: HRB ) , for instance, had to completely revamp its game years ago because TurboTax was stealing its core retail arm customer; H&R Block developed its own at-home tax preparation product. Even so, H&R Block's offering still trails TurboTax by a long shot.
Intuit is more than just TurboTax, too -- the company has expanded into payroll and payment processing, banking solutions, and health care information management. Having purchased seven companies in the past three years, Intuit is attempting to diversify its portfolio and take on some industry bigwigs.
For instance, Intuit purchased PayCycle in 2009 (now called Intuit Online) and has been using this software-as-a-service tool to lure very small businesses away from Paychex (NASDAQ: PAYX ) and Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP ) by offering a more catered, yet cheaper, product. This isn't to say ADP and Paychex are sitting on their laurels, but they certainly aren't experiencing small business growth like Intuit.
Intuit is also working its way into the health-care market (via its purchase of Medfusion in 2010) by offering small business owners a health-care debit card plan that allows owners to make small, tax-free monthly contributions that employees can use to pay for their medical care. This could be a new solution to small business owners and may cause small business health plan benefit operators like WellPoint (NYSE: WLP ) to cringe in fear.
A step above his peers
We've clearly seen that CEO Brad Smith has done an excellent job of positioning Intuit for future growth. Now let's take a closer look at some of the little things that make Intuit such a great place to work, and why the community is better off having Smith at the helm.
In terms of employee benefits, Intuit's workforce gets to enjoy the typical perks found at many other software jobs, including the ability to participate in an employee stock option plan, as well as health, dental, and vision coverage. A truly unique perk, and one likely to keep its employees healthier than most companies, is its $350 allowance for gym expenses annually. On top of this $350 to cover gym dues, Intuit also offers Zumba, Pilates, and Latin-style dance classes for free on its campus.
Giving back to the community is another factor not lost on Brad Smith or the board. Through Intuit's website, nonprofit organizations can file to receive free software to help promote financial literacy or help small business in disadvantaged communities. The company will also match employee donations to eligible non-profit organizations up to $2,000.
Two thumbs up
Sometimes you don't have to read between the lines, and this is precisely one of those cases. Brad Smith has done an excellent job reducing Intuit's reliance on financial preparation and tax software and has removed some of the cyclicality often associated with the business. Its prudent acquisition strategy has resulted in strong growth among all of its businesses, all while management remembers to reward the hard work of its employees and community that got it to where it is today. For that, Mr. Smith, you have earned two thumbs up from me!
Do you have a CEO you'd like to nominate for this prestigious weekly honor? If so, head on over to the new CEO of the Week board and chime in with your fellow Fools on who deserves some praise. If you don't have a nominee yet, don't worry; you can still weigh in on other members' selections.
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