New site, new organization

I have not had much time to update this blog recently.  Work has been busy.  I have also been working on a new way of organizing my blogging entries.

One of the things I am doing is migrating off wordpress.com to a hosted wordpress.org instance.  There might be hitches and problems as I get going with this.  As of today, you can see the old postings on health IT or healthcare IT under http://svfruitstand.com/healthit. I hope to add more posts to it soon.

I also have not abandoned commenting on what’s new in IT and trends in social media and software.  Those blogs have been migrated over to http://svfruitstand.com/swblog.

Yodlee, a shrewd platform strategy or missed opportunities?

For those not in the business of financial software, Yodlee might not be a familiar name.  However, if you use online bill pay or one of the popular online personal financial management software, you probably have been using Yodlee without knowing it.  The issue I want to explore in this post is whether Yodlee has missed a great opportunity to provide vertically integrated solutions that end users use or that they have been smart to stay away from the trench warfare in the end consumer products space.

Yodlee has spent over over 10 years to build out its business relationships, technological capability and dominance in the financial data aggregation space.  It makes little sense now for anybody building personal financial software to go sign individual agreements with each of the likes of Citibank, Fidelity and Chase.  As the go-to platform, Yodlee now earns a platform tax from every Personal Financial Management software provider that needs to integrate with banks, credit card companies and investment firms.

At the same time, one cannot help but wonder what would have happened if Yodlee’s end user facing business was a lot more successful and most people actually subscribe to Yodlee to do their bill and financial management, as opposed to doing it through their banks or using services like Mint.com.  Given the number of new product launch and M&A activities across the US, UK and India in the news, Mint.com, Artha Money, Kublax and MoneyDashboard, DebtGoal are just a few of them, there must be significant opportunities to be realized.  However, it appears that Yodlee will not become a dominant player for end users.

Yodlee is in every one of these Personal Financial Management software but it is staying in the background.  That might well be a very comfortable commercial position.  However,  this article from bankingtech.com, Where’s the money in Personal Finance? indicates that Microsoft (after killing its MS Money software) is teaming up with Citi to build a vertically integrated solution to rival Mint/Intuit called Bundle.  If they are successful, they will have a platform that competes with Yodlee as well.  I said earlier that it made little sense for anybody to replicate Yodlee, but then Microsoft is not anybody.  It has cash and it needs growth stories.

This just goes to show no matter where you are, you cannot stay still with a successful product.  What do you think?

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Managing debt with Web 2.0

I took some time off from blogging to get started on a new project.  I am still far from fully ramped up in this new space.  However, that’s a story for another day.

This entry is about managing personal debt, especially the credit card kind.  I think we can agree that the American society is on average not very savvy financially.  Add that to the credit card companies and banks that chased profit without any ethical compunction, we have brought on ourselves a global financial crisis.

Regardless of what the government is doing around better disclosure by credit card companies, people really should know what kind of impact their credit card debt and other loans will have on their financial health long term.  For this, I think DebtGoal.com is a valuable resource and worth checking out.  As Newsweek pointed out in an article, you’ve got to Bail Yourself Out.

Some of the interesting facts that they might not have shared on their website:

  • These guys are not software engineers.  Rather they are former bankers who decided that there is a business opportunity in helping people save money.
  • They have not really spent their money on marketing.  Instead, this is really guerrilla marketing at its best.  You can see it by simply typing DebtGoal into your favorite search engine.

Given the recent acquisition of Mint.com by Intuit, I wonder if there are further web property consolidation in the personal finance space.  Obviously the credit card companies can generate some good will with congress by purchasing such technology.  At the same time, providing this kind of utility would reduce their profit since they have always count on you not knowing how much those cash advances and coffee are costing you.  A knowledgeable consumer is an unprofitable customer.

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