What is Excel’s Market Share Anyway?

February 2, 2009


To my mind, Excel is truly the killer app. Over the years it’s unlocked people’s creativity, empowered them to do things that in many cases they are unaware they are doing (database creation, document generation and more), but for which Excel was never specifically designed.

Today there are a host of exciting web applications that take Excel and push it to the next level. If you’ve never heard of one, check out this video of Vancouver’s DabbleDB – it’s mind blowing. But what I think is far more interesting is all the opportunities to build web applications that don’t endeavor to be a better version of Excel, but instead are designed to perform all the tasks people have been doing in Excel, but for which it was never built.

FreshBooks is a perfect example of an Excel replacement. Before using FreshBooks, most of customers were using Excel (or Word) for time tracking, invoice creation and expense logging. FreshBooks is not a replacement for accounting software like QuickBooks, and Excel never ought to have been either. Nonetheless, Intuit founder Scott Cook said, “Quicken and QuickBooks work in 6 million businesses. There are seven or eight million businesses that don’t run on anything” of the US market. This market that runs on nothing runs on Excel, and I’m betting the number of businesses that do it is actually much larger than Mr. Cook suggests.

This is the market FreshBooks serves – client service professionals who don’t want the feature bloat and pain of QuickBooks, business owners who aren’t accountants and don’t want to be, but who recognize Excel was not designed for time tracking, invoicing or expense tracking and have the vision and the conviction to use a better tool for the job.


about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.