Intuit Acquires

September 15, 2009

It’s been awhile since I last posted and I apologize for the absence.  In part it was because I was busy looking for a new job, and in part it was because I became slightly detached from what was going on in my area of interest.

Alas, I am back among the employed after landing a great new job in NYC.  I am the new Marketing Manager over Distance Education Company, responsible for schools like the New York Institute of Photography and the Sheffield School of Design.

And during my absence, a lot has happened in the world.  One thing that I just found out about today that is worth commenting on is the acquisition of by Intuit.

Intuit, the company responsible for Quicken, clearly sees the value in adding this highly popular personal finance tool.

Mint, for those of you that don’t know, is a web-based tool that allows you to track all of your personal finances from one place.  You can add all of your various accounts, take care of bill paying and budgeting, and even use tools to help you better prepare for the future.  Since it’s founding in 2006, the service has grown rapidly, with new services and features added almost monthly.

In the email I received this morning as a Mint member, I was informed that the acquisition will not directly affect the service I receive as much as it will help to grow Mint’s coverage and popularity more quickly and efficiently.  Sounds like a strong play for both companies to me.  As more and more people shift their daily tasks to the web for ease, companies like this will flourish.


Small Businesses Licking their Chops

October 4, 2008

Too many people spend too much time worrying about the financial crisis.  That is not to say that this is not a major problem that deserves our attention and our respect, but there is only so muc we can do about it right now.  The key is to empower those who can help solve the problem and let them go to work.

But for some, the crisis will create opportunities.  I am talking to the small business owners, or potential entrepreneurs out there.

In any downturn or crisis situation, when the rules of the game are changing in a powerful way, new winners and losers will sort themselves out.  New champions of our economy will rise to the top.  And as the dust settles, we will be looking at industries very differently than we have before.

Small businesses and startups have an incredible opportunity now to define themselves as real players in the future of our economy.  Since these companies are small enough and secure enough not to take any major hits from the crisis on wall street, it is a time to explore new opportunities.  While the major players in every industry build walls around themselves to protect from being hurt, the small players should take some risks to level the playing field.

Now is the time to bring your services to the forefront.  Land the big clients that are looking to save some cash.  Market the products that have the potential to save people from distress.  Bring your brand to the public in a big way so that when the economy starts to bounce back, as it most definitely will, you will already have the attention you need to bounce with it.

No one is asking for this crisis, and no one wants a recession.  But entrepreneurs should be chomping at the bit right now to make something out of this situation.  If you do one thing very well, and offer it fairly cheap, don’t you think you can make a splash with companies who need to cut costs.

And even in the banking industry, there is room for new players to at least start to have an impact.  The key is to establish your differences, and build off of them.

Here is one example of a company playing that card.  Think of ways you can do it too.

When You Need an Innovative Leader

September 18, 2008

Turmoil. That’s the state of the financial industry right now. Just a few months after the collapse of Bear Stearns, and a few weeks after we were told that the “crisis” was not as widespread as we thought, Merril Lynch was sold to Bank of America, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, AIG was bailed out by the U.S. government, and Washington Mutual and Morgan Stanley are struggling to stay afloat. Needless to say, this is not your average week on Wall Street.

I had a conversation with a friend about the kind of leadership that huge corporations need in times like these, and the kind of leadership both inside and outside of the company that allowed this to happen. We had mixed thoughts on the matter but what came out of this discussion was an interesting debate on government as well as corporate CEO’s.

Let’s start with Government and Industry Leaders. The current situation did not just pop up out of nowhere. It is the coming together of years of decisions, good and bad, that have shaped the financial industry in our country. It is the result of self-regulation, meaning no regulation, of an industry perhaps most responsible for the wealth of this country. It is the result of risky moves by companies that are supposed to be safe and secure. It is the result of pushing too hard affordable loans to people we knew would never be able to pay them back. And it is a direct correlation to the mindset we have taken in this country when it comes to money and debt, that we can buy today with the hope of tomorrow’s fortune.

In America, we have a history of being far too nearsighted, seemingly ignoring the future implications of our decisions today. It’s a flaw of the system in which the leaders lead. Election and appointment to government positions are temporary, and temporary positions lead to short term solutions. Even when long term solutions are put in place, there is nothing forcing the next in line to maintain those initiatives. So they usually get changed, or cancelled, or replaced with new solutions. The market crisis has been a long time coming.

As for the question of leadership within the companies at this time, there were two points argued. I will always argue that companies need innovative CEOs, or at least CEOs that empower innovators around them. In a time like this, it seems that innovation may be less important as compared to a steadfast determination and calmness, someone who possesses the power to ease fears and show us the light.

Why can’t that be both? Isn’t that a part of innovation? When you think of innovation in a leadership role, you have to consider things outside of product and service innovation. CEOs must be able to motivate and inspire in times of utter chaos through innovative thinking and new ways of communicating old ideas. The CEO who stands in the face of conflict and struggle and leads his team through it must have the insight and courage to think differently. Good luck.