In November 2006, Wesabe launched as a site to help people manage their personal finances. This was 10 months before Mint. Three years later, Intuit acquired Mint For $170 Million and Wesabe shut down.
What happened and what was learned? Some notes from Marc Hedlund, co-founder of Wesabe.
“Visual design matters a huge amount, without question, and Mint’s design was exceptional, but if other, stronger forms of lock-in are in place first, design alone can’t win a market, nor can it keep a market.”
“You’ll hear a lot about why company A won and company B lost in any market, and in my experience, a lot of the theories thrown about – even or especially by the participants – are utter crap. A domain name doesn’t win you a market; launching second or fifth or tenth doesn’t lose you a market. You can’t blame your competitors or your board or the lack of or excess of investment. Focus on what really matters: making users happy with your product as quickly as you can, and helping them as much as you can after that. If you do those better than anyone else out there you’ll win.”
“It was far easier to have a good experience on Mint, and that good experience came far more quickly. Everything I’ve mentioned – not being dependent on a single source provider, preserving users’ privacy, helping users actually make positive change in their financial lives – all of those things are great, rational reasons to pursue what we pursued. But none of them matter if the product is harder to use, since most people simply won’t care enough or get enough benefit from long-term features if a shorter-term alternative is available.”