Exa Web Solutions collapses into liquidation after operating for 15 years

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Productivity Commission recommends streamlining liquidations for small business and giving directors ID numbers to track potential phoenix activity

One of Australia’s largest digital services companies has collapsed into liquidation after operating for 15 years.

Melbourne technology firm Exa Web Solutions, which specialises in website development and digital marketing, called in liquidators earlier this week, according to The Herald Sun.

Exa Web Solutions was founded in 2000 and employs around 350 web developers and digital marketers, according to its website.

Around 60 of those employees are based in Australia and have lost their jobs as a result of the liquidation.

The remaining employees, based in India and Thailand, are not affected because the company’s overseas operations have not been placed in liquidation.

Exa Web Solutions’ clients reportedly include The Cheesecake Shop, Ingham, the University of New South Wales and National Australia Bank.

Liquidator Glen Kanevsky, partner at Deloitte Australia, told The Herald Sun he is contacting the business’s customers to advise them of his appointment.

“We will do whatever we can within the context of the liquidation to minimise service disruption for customers,” Kanevsky said.

“We are working with the director to develop strategies to extract as much value as possible from the intellectual property assets.”

WME offers to help customers and employees

Nick Bell, managing director of digital services company WME, told SmartCompany he will be offering Exa Web Solutions’ customers three months of free services in order to assist any businesses affected by the liquidation.

Bell decided to go ahead with this offer because he had an Exa Web Solutions client “break down in tears” with him over the phone yesterday.

“I feel sorry for the customers who’ve been left high and dry and the employees who’ve come in and been told they don’t have a job anymore,” Bell says.

“Exa has definitely got some talent, so we want them [the employees] to come in and have a chat with us if they’re suited for our environment. If they are, we’d love to work with them.”

Just last week Queensland website development company Graphics Online collapsed into liquidation, affecting approximately 600 clients, some of which are SMEs.

Bell says the digital services market is “definitely a competitive industry” at the moment, with many firms outsourcing work to countries like India.

SmartCompany contacted Deloitte Australia but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Broede Carmody is SmartCompany's senior reporter. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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FROM AROUND THE WEB

  • http://www.leannesaysitsallg.com/ Leanne O’Sullivan

    Wow – this is really sad and just shows that the state of play of business in the digital space is in flux, hard grind and labour intensive.

    When will the industry wake up and charge what the work is worth.

    it takes time people, digital takes time and if you want local devs, account managers strategists it costs real money – that unfortunately many business do not wish to pay.

    This is really sad for the company, the employees and all the clients.

    • http://www.rimarketing.com.au Sam Hain

      Agree Leanne particularly in the regional areas!

      • http://www.leannesaysitsallg.com/ Leanne O’Sullivan

        You just need to be ready to adapt and continue to look to provide value and to build relationships. We can’t please everyone however.

  • Marty Drill

    Well done Nick

  • Michael

    The market is definitely changing, agility is the key to being able to adapt, and this favors smaller business models that can scale when needed. Shame for the customers, but they perhaps need to look around, there are some good options in Australia now!

  • iddigital

    Been a long standing competitor of ours and sad to see one of the first in this space to fall. Any reasoning why? If you’re a client, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do too. http://www.iddigital.com.au

  • Steve Palmer

    Look at the wolves come out. Out of the frying pan into the fire.

  • http://www.danielfisher.com.au/ Daniel Fisher

    I have found Exa a terrible company to deal with since they began pestering me for my business over 10 years ago. Over-priced, technically underwhelming solutions. Add to that their very harsh contracts with clients and there’s not much good to say.

  • Chris Schimkat

    I love how WME group so graciously swoops in to “help” Exa’s customers. I’ve had clients work with WME who have had an absolutely appalling service. SEO that shows no growth in 6 months and AdWords campaigns where they didn’t notice that conversion tracking wasn’t working for 5 months… Don’t just go with WME, shop around – you’ll be glad that you did…

    • John McCormick

      Smart Company has given a free (?) PR opportunity to Nick Bell and WME – renowned as the cowboys of online marketing. Disgraceful journalism. Smart company has lost all credibility and demonstrates complete lack of research (available freely on Whirlpool and Ripoffreport) pertaining to the hundreds of small businesses WME has screwed.

      • Jacov

        I’m amazed how no body has questioned the facts that are WME sent an edm to the exa database 24 hours prior to the announcement of exa winding up & then followed it through 24 hours after offering a free migration . I witnessed it my self through a mutual client that I share emails with .
        So dodgy sounds like there was a plan to me while we pay our outgoings others spend it and shut shop making 5 years of net profit in a single 12 months by bot paying dues.

  • Jason Arnold

    The empathy of your Google Advertisment “Exa, Exa read all about it” seems to contradict the PR story of compassion in this article Nick. Feel for the employees and their families who had to read that.

  • Chris

    I’d highly recommend performing a search for WME reviews before signing up, there’s quite a lengthy forum thread that should be enough to scare anyone away from that company.

  • Renato

    Sad to see the pioneers fall. We are speaking with ex-EXA clients to assist them during this transition time. If you also need assistance, please contact us on http://www.lightmedia.com.au (03) 9867 5867. We also manage a hosting business.

  • D

    Killed by WordPress & Wix. The traditional small business looking for a website has completely vanished lately as a type of client.

    • Salvadore

      Killed by high prices and bloated systems. 350 employees? Jesus H. Christ.

      • D

        That is also true. But any large company suffers bloat & web development is hard enough without massive overheads.

    • http://www.leannesaysitsallg.com/ Leanne O’Sullivan

      If you only frame yourself as a builder and not as the architect then you never can compete with WordPress et AL. You can always find a cheaper builder. The web industry has got to start framing conversations in terms of a holistic approach to the digital space. Customers will get that or not. As tough as that is to hear.

  • Runal Singh

    The age of mass SEO & AdWords factories who work off checklists and have no personal connection with their clients, their business and their brand is ending.

    And so it should – as agencies we’re supposed to be connected to our clients business and talk about sales, leads and return on investment. Large scale SEO’s like WME and EXA literally sell you ‘keywords’ not conversions or holistic solution.

    Take it as a plug or whatever you like but where I operate @ http://www.onestopmedia.com.au we become family with our clients knowing the in’s and out’s of theis business to be able to accurately present return on investment.

    Good riddance to the mass SEO factories who sell keywords you won’t be missed!

  • Salvadore

    Make sure you do your research before switching to WME. They have been known to onsell work to O-Desk, and pocket the margin. Eg.: http://imgur.com/dLZjJbk

    You don’t know what quality you are getting there and you’re getting double billed for an unethical middleman!

  • Tim Roberts

    Anyone needing to switch over to a new provider I would recommend http://www.onestopmedia.com.au

  • John

    Working in the industry and for a reputable agency, I am truly astounded about how much time Smart Company give Nick Bell and WME. You’re actually doing SME’s (the majority of your readership) a disservice by allowing this charlatan airtime. I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to WME.

    • gh

      I am not sure if you all know that Exa had a very sophisticated and a well trained team at their base in India & Thailand. Both those companies are still in action but obviously they are in a big trouble as well even though they have the greatest talent with them. May be they will have to now go to some other providers and get some work to survive or some really good client might support them. Just hope they survive!

      • er

        Lol. Texas Mumbai office was wholly incompetent

  • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

    Hi Guys,

    Im the CEO at http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au (Full disclosure, don’t want to misrepresent myself) It is indeed a shame to see big companies like EXA fall but this is a sign of the industry changing in Australia, businesses want specialised businesses within their realm ( ie you need a web developer for web dev, an SEO for SEO , so on and so forth). The days of weird link networks, and funky guarantees are over, SEO and Online Marketing does not have shortcuts.

    If anyone from EXA is reading this, our team is hiring and we are happy to see how we can help if you are looking for a job ( we are looking for Sales / Account Management roles) Further to this, for any EXA Clients we are offering a Migration Strategy Session to help you mitigate the risk of your adwords accounts being shut off and getting your SEO back on track, just visit us at our website or call me on 0450705186.

    In short, a real shame, but in the end the market dictating what it wants which is quality

    • Salvadore

      Nothing to do with the Marketing dictating anything. All to do with internal failures.

      • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

        Not really, online advertising expenditures have quadrupled in the last 4 years, it’s simply a matter of businesses now know the difference between quality and what is not and the demands of the client are increasing ( they don’t want one stop shop vendors or old hat SEO)..

        • China

          Mez have another read of Salvadores post. You have no clue.

          • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

            Salvadore’s post doesn’t even make grammatical sense nor even reference what I wrote properly. It is you who has no clue my friend.

        • Jacov

          I would love for you to elaborate on how businesses know the difference between quality ?

      • Jacov Haynmann

        I agree 100% , when a business turns over that much money with its main supplier go ogle not charging GST , it empowers a business with a huge volume of cash a flow .
        The only outcome with a business that turns over in excess of 15 mil per annum combined with poor financial management and re investing monies that technically arnt there e.g GST ,forces them to shut shop apparently the debt was more than the entire years revenue .
        As for the other comments relating to the market and Aussies wanting better quality service at the end of the day the majority of consumers will shop for off the shelf products that are cheaper we will never see 90% of businesses wanting to pay for be better service and advice , the product is the product the amount you pay doesn’t dictate rankings or performance if the formula is wrong to begin with then it is wrong regardless of the cost .

        I have been in this industry for 13 years call me legacy but business owners are not changing pro rata to the online world maonly because the majority of agencies out there believe there best and have the majic formula were really there just great sales men with zero delivery.

        Tranceperancy is not there , plus when clients challenge other agencies to quantify there work all you get in return jibrish.

  • http://www.donhesh.com.au Don Hesh

    Ha ha ha.. So many companies trying to get ex clients from Exa… see how many links they put in comments… These guys are so disparate. don’t even know how to generate sales..

    • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

      Hey Don,

      I can certainly speak on behalf of our Agency, we are not “disparate” ( im sure you mean’t desperate) I’m sure the guys at EXA would be appreciative that we are offering jobs in a time where they have no certainty over the future… Also, WME is offering jobs to people hiring too, this is a good thing

      • gh

        Well it is the good thing they are giving the jobs but the intentions do not look good because the news from your excising clients do not seem to be good at all……..and really if you guys are so great hearted then you should do some free work for the clients who feel ripped off by your services as well.

      • http://www.donhesh.com.au Don Hesh

        We are not talking about Jobs.. We are talking about, how you and most of other people trying to get clients out of this. I can guaranteed none of these guys in page one for “SEO” or “seo consulting”… Are you in page one Mez???

      • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

        Hey Don,

        I wouldn’t normally reply to such comments that are antagonistic. But I thought I should make an exception here.

        1. Not that it makes a difference to the quality of our output to our clients, but our site actually does rank on page 1 for SEO and a whole bunch of other terms ” internet marketing”, ” online marketing” etc. This doesn’t mean that I have a good offering for my clients. There are heaps of jokers who rank on page 1 for “SEO” and “SEO Consulting” who build PBNS to their clients sites and do lots of dodgey things, im not one of them :-)

        2. I was talking about jobs in my post, and my comment stands, if anyone at EXA in account management needs a job, I will happily take the time out to interview them as it must really suck to lose their job.

        As for GH. I’m not really sure what you mean at all? I don’t know why I would give free consulting to a client? I can certainly help them reset up their adwords campaigns and build out a migration plan to assist them with hosting, web, adwords, SEO to minimise down time… we are offering free plans in this that are worth several hundred dollars…

    • gh

      Seriously mate……..and now they will be planning behind the back of the client to rip off and make business out of a simple news. Some of them must be feeling proud of themselves as well even when they know deep inside their heart they can’t give similar quality of work which the industry leader was giving.

  • James Norquay

    I feel sorry for the EXA staff who have lost work in Australia I hope they find re-employment quickly. This is sadly a sign that the market has changed (several years ago in fact) gone are the days of low quality high volume style online marketing businesses. Clients are now after high quality solutions with experienced teams.

    • http://www.onlinemarketinggurus.com.au Mez Homayunfard

      You’re on the money James, finally someone who gets it.

    • http://uptakesolutions.com.au Brenton Johnson

      its too competitive now to churn out the crap, quality is the way to go

  • Luke A

    If you need a copywriter chat to Word Tweak.

  • kangaroo

    Tell the gov’t to make a law to prevent outsourcing outside your country. We are all going down.

  • Alex

    Hi All

    I recommend PlatinumSEO for any one who would like to get quality SEO services.

    Website: http://www.platinumseoservices.com.au

  • John Graumans

    Outsource issues with companies who have gone to India and then fail to deliver on the work. Losing control when the object is to reduce costs, that are not always passed on to the client. my-designer.me was expaed with over 254 team members in 2015 to be my-designer.agency ( a support and delivery operation). Sites are turned around with e-commerce and high skills by locals 33% cheaper than overseas with smart system builder. The Worm has turned .

  • John Graumans

    Big thankyou to the Exa team members who recommended to their clients to talk with the my-support.agency people to find solutions to any existing project. Another great aussie success story.

  • Excite Media

    Sorry to hear the news.

    If you need help with your site or marketing, please give us a call: 1300 392 483 – http://www.excitemedia.com.au/contact/ – We’re a Brisbane web company that gets it, with 1000+ happy clients and 4.9 star Google reviews.

  • Alexander McCarthy

    As a former Exa employee, my thoughts are with those hard working individuals who’ve been made redundant.