mint is now #1 on my 'notes to self' when i get so focused on engineering my way to a solution i forget sometimes its' better to partner with a competitor and move on.
they outsourced the hard stuff (scraping/banking relationships) and then focused on building a product. nice work, brilliant execution.
They have a consumer front end. It's quite decent, actually, and it's free. Go to Yodlee.com and sign up. But they apparently make most of their money by (a) licensing their back end to services like Mint, and (b) serving as a kind of OEM for banks, who put up Yodlee's software rebranded as a part of the bank's website.
If Mint is doing well, Yodlee is too. If Mint fails, Yodless will still have a diverse client base to support its business.
Wow - if Mint's growth doesn't impress you, then what has?
I felt their timing couldn't have been better. Their product matured as a recession hit and demand for money-saving financial services skyrocketed.
Mint just received $170 million. Yodlee did not.
Youtube was a huge money sink, and got a huge acquisition. Mint is, I believe at least, somewhat profitable, and only got $170M. The timing had a lot more to do with it than anything, but as a consumer, I'm a LOT more likely to give money to Mint than Youtube, and the YouTube founders are arguably a lot richer than the Mint founders.
What have the investors invested in ? A company that does not own its own core technology ?
$170 million in 2 years seems like reason enough for me.. but as Inaka points out: their execution was brilliant. So if you do have a brilliant app maybe you should keep it free.
People keep saying this as if it were fact, but never provide evidence. From what I've seen, Mint has a great potential for revenue. I've not seen any public statements about their financials.
They were executing revenue, and executing very well.
If I knew how to answer that question, then we wouldn't be having this little debate. Fortunately, I'm not the one making claims about their profitability.
"They were executing revenue, and executing very well."
That's a strong statement. Prove it.
That's what "audited financials" are all about. You think it's any different for a public company?
You're right about that...these banks and credit card companies probably pay hundreds per lead, which is a drop in the bucket compared to how much they'll get over the life of the customer.
It isn't. But (due disclosure: I worked at Intuit once and while I have no special knowledge about this deal, I know how Intuit works)
Intuit had no choice really. Mint was high on management's radar and they were always scared of it. Intuit doesn't "get" the web, the whole company is structured around its success on the desktop and there are too many layers of management to make any kind of innovation successful (One on team I saw, there were 22 managers and 3 developers! I kid you not!).
Intuit talks a lot about "innovation", but the fact is that Mint (and FreshBooks) have been chipping away marketshare every quarter and they couldn't build a mint clone/mint killer (they tried a few times).
Intuit has no choice but to acquire mint if they wanted to have a solid web offering. Will they run it into the ground? certainly, over time, as soon as the mint devs vest and leave and the regular Intuit folks take over. Of course this leaves the space open for another competitor!
Congratulations to the mint team! The one thing Intuit has in plenty (for now ;-)) is money! Enjoy!
EDIT: If I were Intuit and I wanted to make this work, I'd keep the Mint.com team around and let them work in their own fashion, outside the regular Intuit corporate structure. Knowing Intuit this will never happen.
True. But I would imagine 170 million is a lot of money to the founders. A bird in the hand and all that...
While some management "self help" books use war as a metaphor for business, business isn't really war. The Genghis Khan quote you used might be appropriate for a medieval era barbarian general, not so much a businessman in the 21st century.
"Victory" for a startup is meetings its founders'/investors' goals. No more no less.
You think? ;-)
And where did Robert E Howard get it from? Ole Genghiz said this a looong time ago. Look it up.
Hell, I was only there for the canapes...
Of course they have the thing of suggesting credit cards to users, but it doesn't seem that they were making any money on that...
In summary, if Mint was profitable, they wouldn't sell the company in the first opportunity.
They weren't created to flip - it was a solid business.
They have many of the same features, are catching up in the polish area, and have a strong data privacy angle.
The core app itself has gotten continually worse. The "v2" that launched some months ago now was less usable, removed functionality (which may have been restored by now to some extent), was full of bugs, and was glacially slow and balky.
The only possible draw for Wesabe over Mint is the "community" part, which never interested me.
I guess I really see Wesabe as a money-management community with an app attached, not as a money-management app.
Anybody know how Buxfer is doing?
Just because Mike Arrington says something is true doesn't mean it is. I'll believe it when there's an official announcement.
Is this because you have some secret knowledge about the deal, or just because you have a gut feeling about it? Your last sentence seemed a little suspicious, which is why I ask.
Seriously? Maybe I don't get it but if Yahoo had bought Google or Facebook had bought Twitter would those have been terrific exits? Why are they selling out so quickly?
I don't trust Intuit and will probably stop using Mint (I was just getting started in the past few months).
Many, many affiliates who look at a million dollars as "Meh, not a lot of money to me anymore" physically drooled when they heard of Mint's model, principally because almost nobody realizes they're an affiliate marketer. As an affiliate, you (potentially) make a lot of money but defensibility of your revenue is a constant driving concern since Google, the merchant, or other affiliates can always disintermediate you. But who can disintermediate the guy you've already given full read access to your financial life to?
I'd imagine there will be a lot of disaffected users here eventually.
If Mint was doing so well, they'd continue on their path to completely outplace Quicken. Something about this just doesn't add up.
VCs don't fund startups to achieve competitive victory per se. Their job is to make money for the people who invested in their funds, and they do that by selling the shares they bought for more than they paid for them. The main routes for that are acquisition and IPO.
Right now, the IPO market is not looking healthy, and won't be for a while. Given that Mint's revenue comes from getting consumers to sign up for credit cards and other financial offers, their market will be anemic for a while. So they're an especially poor IPO candidate for the next few years.
That leaves getting bought. If that's what your after, and Intuit comes along and offers you a great price, why wouldn't you take it? Intuit needs Mint a lot right now, but maybe later Mint's bargaining position will be worse.
Obviously, if your reason for starting a business is to get a huge lottery ticket payout, keeping it free and hoping some megacorp buys you is a great idea. I'm disappointed that this was the plan from Mint. I had hopes they would find a business plan that made them money AND that was good for users.
Of course, if Intuit doesn't fundamentally change Mint, maybe all my handwringing will be for naught. I hope I'm wrong.
The other odd angle to this paranoia: How big do people really think the market of "people who don't trust Intuit with their financial information" is? For millions of people, it's already in Quicken... the step to doing that online, especially for a non-technical user, is not that big.
The DRM would fail and support would tell you to buy the software again. That was enough to drive me from Intuit for good as it just seemed they were far too interested in profit over customer service.
That was enough to drive me from Intuit for good.