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Vancouver anti-fraud software provider ACL Services Ltd. aims to follow Salesforce.com playbook and consolidate audit, risk management, compliance software firms.

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Vancouver anti-fraud software provider ACL Services Ltd. has raised $50-million from Silicon Valley private-capital firm Norwest Venture Partners, the first time it has tapped outside investment in its 30-year history.

Now, the company, a leading provider of software for fraud detection and prevention and risk management that has transformed into a cloud-based subscription provider from a seller of desktop-based products in recent years, says it will use the money to consolidate the fragmented $36-billion market for integrated risk and performance software.

"We're attempting to do what Salesforce.com did," said ACL's chief product officer, Dan Zitting. The San Francisco giant brought customer service, sales and marketing software onto a single platform. "We want to do the same thing with audit, risk management and compliance," Mr. Zitting said.

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He added that ACL, which has been increasing sales by 20 per cent to 40 per cent a year and is believed to have revenue in the range of $50-million (U.S.) A year, will use the proceeds to focus on expanding revenue through product development, expanding sales efforts and by making "opportunistic" acquisitions.

Norwest partner Robert Arditi said in a release that ACL "already has scale, an industry-changing vision and an impressive customer base" and described the company as "a category killer." Industry sources estimate ACL, with 300 employees, is valued at about $250-million (U.S.) with the new financing.

The company's roots date to the early 1970s, when University of British Columbia accounting professor Hartmut Will built the first interactive audit software. His son Harald Will (now chairman) launched ACL in 1987 to commercialize the software.

Under chief executive officer Laurie Schultz, a software industry veteran hired in 2011, the company has transformed its business and now sells its software on a monthly cloud-based subscription basis instead of charging for one-time perpetual licences for desktop-based software and annual maintenance fees. Mr. Zitting said ACL has converted about 90 per cent of about 8,000 active desktop software customers in 140 countries to its cloud offering.

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