Manaccom

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Company logo.

Manaccom commenced operations in February 1986 as the Australia and New Zealand distributor of PC-SIG’s library of shareware software for the IBM PC.

The shareware concept could only prosper if users elected to purchase the "full version" of the software which was initially purchased as a trial for a few dollars for each diskette.

Manaccom represented many pioneering developers in Australia and distributed full versions of the software, along with manuals and provided telephone support.

The business prospered with most customers being consumers and small businesses which were more than happy with the software offered at a fraction of the price of the main stream titles. Products included PC-File, File Express, PC-Write, As-Easy-As, Draft Choice, Galaxy Word Processing, PC-Outline and FormGen. Manaccom’s founder, Ian Mackay, was the first person from outside of North America to be inducted into the Shareware Hall of Fame. The PC-SIG library of shareware software was made available on CD ROM when the first CD drives were released. It is worth noting that Manaccom was an early vendor of CD-ROM drives and probably was the first to offer a drive in Australia at less than $1000.

In the early 1990s retailers became interested in offering shareware software and Manaccom packaged products for display under the brand names PC-SIG, the Platinum Software Collection, Gold Medallion and Value Plus. The ranges were essentially the same and some brands were exclusive to certain retailers. Majors included K-Mart, Myer, Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, Vox Retail Group (Billy Guyatts, Chandlers, Errol Stewarts, Archie Martin) and later Officeworks and JB HiFi.

A major component of these retail ranges were games for the PC, and Manaccom seized the opportunity to distribute additional levels and more complete versions of these games. Within a few years games became Manaccom’s main line of business, representing FormGen, Apogee, Epic Megagames and many others. Some of the titles may bring back some memories: Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, Paganitzu, Wolfenstein 3D, Rise of the Triad, Word Rescue, Math Rescue, Jill of the Jungle and Doom. Manaccom was the first to release Doom into retail stores anywhere in the world.

Australian developers weren’t forgotten either – Manaccom was able to use its distribution network to bring Australian products to market, both domestically and internationally. Mystic Towers and Halloween Harry were two Brisbane developed games that Apogee published in the US. Locally, Music Works and David Ellsworth’s educational products for Kids were long running successes. WagezBook and the later WagezWindow were payroll programs for very small businesses that were sold and supported in their thousands for around 20 years. The Easy Tutor range of educational products for using the PC and popular software products was sold in both retail and licenced to corporations and government.

The shareware market and the PC based games market started to contract in the late 1990s and Manaccom’s growth plateaued until an association with Californian based Touchstone Software started to blossom, but soon after Touchstone went out of business. The major product Manaccom was handling through Touchstone was Trend Micro’s PC-cillin anti-virus. It took a year or so but eventually Manaccom was appointed distributor in Australia for the PC-cillin consumer range in Australia.

The business changed rapidly, moved to larger premises and established Trend Micro as a force in the Australia retail market, along with a library of products from other developers including Net Nanny, ZoneAlarm, Acronis and Compare Office.. Manaccom was unique in that it designed and produced packaging, replicated CDs (or in earlier days, diskettes), had its own team of retail representatives and merchandisers, marketed the products and handled its own fulfilment. Manaccom’s small run production enabled it to compete with imported product on price alone, plus it had the ability to produce customised packaging to suit a marketing opportunity. It truly was a one stop shop for developers, both offshore and local, to bring products into the Australian retail market place.

So successful was Manaccom in the retail market place it was selected as the software supplier of the year to the market leading Harvey Norman chain each year from 2001 to 2007. In 1986 the company’s growth was recognised by BRW magazine as one of the Top100 fast growing companies in the country.

To "future proof" the business Manaccom formed a small team to develop applications of its own and in 2007 had soft releases for "2Large2Email" and "Ecofiling", a cloud style (before Cloud computing was a buzz word) document filing and database system.

In 2007 the Manaccom business was sold to Jumbo Corporation Limited a public company that had evolved from an on-line store to an on-line vendor for Australian Lottery Tickets.[1] The public company changed its name to Manaccom Corporation Limited and remained listed on the ASX.

The original Manaccom continued to trade at around the same level of turnover and profitability as it had done prior to being sold up to June 2009. In mid 2009 it was apparent that the future was limited with Trend Micro and as a result of approaches by McAfee (now Intel Security) it was decided to change suppliers of Internet Security. The change was always going to be a challenge but it became a bigger challenge than had been expected.

The founder of the original Manaccom, Ian Mackay, resigned as both an executive and director in October 2009, "to pursue his retirement plans"[2] but reportedly as a result of irreconcilable differences in management style. Mike Veverka, the CEO of Manaccom Corporation, decided to manage the original Manaccom operations (as well as the Lottery division). It seems one of his first decisions was to terminate the management heir apparent of the original business, James Mackay.[3][4] This left a significant void at the head of the original business and the process of managing the change from Trend Micro to McAfee was unsuccessful, despite a restructure and contract renegotiations.

On 2 February 2011 Manaccom Pty Limited (the original Manaccom business) was placed into administration, and meanwhile the name of the ASX listed company had been changed to Jumbo Interactive Limited. The company remains listed on the ASX under the code JIN.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jumbo to Acquire Manaccom". Jumbointeractive.org. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  2. ^ "Manaccom Board Changes". Jumbo Interactive. 2009-10-30. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  3. ^ "Manaccom CEO tight-lipped on Mackay's termination - Software - Technology - News - CRN Australia". Crn.com.au. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  4. ^ Kev (2009-11-16). "Mackay Jr. given the boot from Manaccom - manaccom - ARN". Arnnet.com.au. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 

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