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Gwyneth Paltrow and Richard Branson will lead Sage's 'sexy accounting' shtick

Ashton Kutcher breaks up with pizza slice for spreadsheets

Sage Software is following in the footsteps of Microsoft and Salesforce by rolling out big names to vent hot air at its events.

The British company, which had revenues of £194m last year, employs 13,000 people and is known for its mid-market accounting software, has signed Virgin empire supremo Sir Richard Branson to anchor its Sage Summit 2016 in July.

Flanking Branson will be Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel, who is co-founder of HelloGiggles, a website described as “a positive online community for women” that permits serious chatter only – and which definitely frowns upon gossip.

Paltrow is known as the Oscar-winning actress who was once consciously coupled to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Deschanel reigned over Boho hipsters for 500 days of summer and sold HelloGiggles to faceless media giant Time Inc last year for $20m

The celluloid pair will be telling SMB users of Sage spreadsheets about the “giving economy” and why doing “good” is great for their business.

Backing them will be Ashton Kutcher, founder of A-Grade Investments and an Airbnb investor. Babe magnet Kutcher rose to fame in That 70s Show with his subsequent roles including an appearance opposite a pizza slice in Wrigley’s chewing gum TV ads.

Kutcher will be tag teaming on the subject of “values over valuations: building a mission-driven business” with Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler. There’s also something about pitching to the hosts of a Dragons Den sub-franchise running on ABC called Shark Tank.

Sage last turned heads in 2014 when it landed former government chief operating officer Steven Kelly as its chief executive. The accounting software firm is a close partner of Salesforce – revenue $5bn and headcount 19,000 – so it is not just a pioneer in getting big names to sing at its events.

Past performers include ex-Iraq War (not that one, the first one) general Colin Powell – also a member of the Salesforce board of directors – and An Inconvenient Truth global warming film star Al Gore.

Microsoft – revenue $22bn and more than 100,000 staff – has picked up the Salesforce baton and has since also taken to filling up the conference venues of London with celebrity hot air.

At its Future Decoded event Microsoft has uncorked ex spy chief Stella Rimington, Boom Town Rats front man and Live Aid conscience Sir Bob Geldof and ex-BBC2- Newsnight anchor and irascible host of University Challenge Jeremy Paxman to talk about "the future." And other stuff. ®

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