A Tale of two Budgetable competitors

July 19, 2010

Four years ago I started a personal finance site called Budgetable. Before I got very far, two strong competitors sprouted up: Mint and Wesabe. I had mixed feelings about it, but I shuttered Budgetable and referred people to Wesabe. Was that a good call? How did the competitors do?

Wesabe, as of this month, has gone out of business. Reportedly, they lost their venture backing and after years, still had no revenue. They planned to sell subscriptions, but later changed to trying to sell directly to banks. I’m not sure why they thought they could sell web apps to large, conservative businesses, but hey. Wesabe was also expensive to run. Between running secure servers and paying for the service that connects to all those banks, they had to fold.

On the other hand, Mint was by most accounts a success. They made some revenue by upselling financial services to users, and grew extremely fast. They only supported US banks, but that seemed to help more than it hurt. They built a significant threat to the establishment (Intuit’s Quicken) and then were acquired by Intuit for 170 million.

So where are we now? Four years later, if you want personal finance tools, you go to Intuit. Jason Fried lamented this, but now that their #1 competitor has died, it’s even more dramatic.

Yet with hindsight, I’m still happy having retired Budgetable. Both competitors had to get big venture capital investment to do what they did, and neither got to profitability. They had to give their services away for free since that’s what consumers expect, and now neither of them exist as separate entities. That’s just not my game.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.