Mint finally launches

Mint finally launched yesterday at the TechCrunch40 conference. Congratulations Mint! I had been referring to Mint as the great vaporware of personal finance apps. They first started promoting it back in March, and was beginning to think it would never launch. 6 months later they have a public beta out (I believe they actually started working on it on December ’05). Good to see there is something there after all, so I guess I have to stop calling it vaporware. Their blog has been great, even inspiring one of NetworthIQ’s new features, but hopefully for $5 million in VC money, we can get something better than a blog.

I should be happier for them, more exposure for the personal finance space and all. But, I’m feeling a little down today. As is the case with Wesabe, Expensr and Geezeo, I don’t view them as a competitor. They are more traditional Personal finance managers, focusing on expense tracking and bank account aggregation. NetworthIQ looks beyond bank accounts into your whole financial picture at a simpler/higher level while adding a social support network and way for you to chronicle your financial decisions. It’s really more of a complement to any of these apps. Unfortunately though, even if we’re not competitors, NetworthIQ will be viewed in the same general realm and thus be buried further in the noise and battle for new users. This also hit home reading this month’s Money magazine article about social personal finance that ignored NetworthIQ (Jean Chatzky, what’s a guy gotta do to get on your radar?). We were the first doing anything personal finance related in Web 2.0/social software. Now, there are lots out there. One thing’s for sure, I’m going to have to pick up my game a lot more.

As a personal finance software user myself, I’m not impressed with Mint. It’s web-based and very pretty, but I’ve been using MS money for 8 years and there’s nothing in Mint that will make me switch. I’m a BIG proponent of web-based software, and Money is probably the only reason I keep Windows around (ok, I guess I need it for .NET development too, but it’s the only software app that I use on Windows). It would be great to have a web app for this, but I’m not ready to give a new web service my usernames/passwords (I gave one to test it out), and it only tracks bank and credit card accounts. It can’t track mortgages, brokerage accounts, etc, so it’s not really a “track all your accounts in one place” app. I’d still have to use Money. The weekly email summary was a neat thing I admit, but I think there’s a lot more power in a client PFM in analyzing and reporting on spending. In the end, Mint feels more like an affiliate marketing scheme than a PFM.

To win the “best presenter” award at TC40, I honestly think that’s ridiculous, but really says more to me about the conference than Mint. For two reasons. 1) If this is the best app out of the 40, I can promptly ignore the other 39. 2) This has to be one of the best funded companies there, and I don’t think companies with VC funding should be in the running for conference grants. Those should be reserved for companies still battling in the funding game.

3 Replies to “Mint finally launches”

  1. I had been patiently waiting for it for awhile, too. When I tried it a few days ago, it was buggy and slow. Today, it’s working better.

    What excites me about it is that it makes the connection to online banking. I really didn’t like uploading spreadsheets to Wesabe, so I didn’t use it.

    But you’re right that it’s very different than NetworthIQ. I will use them very differently.

  2. Hey Adam, thanks for confirming the different uses. I’ve been thinking more about it and I was too down on Mint yesterday. It is really awesome to be able to get all of your data automatically, without uploading anything. The idea is obviously great, and Mint has come up with a very nice solution. I realized I’m not their target customer probably, at least until they support account types beyond bank and credit cards. We always come back to the famous (at least in PF software circles) quote:

    “The majority of consumers who buy computers claim that personal finance management is one of the top three reasons they are purchasing a PC. They’ve been claiming this for more than a decade. But only somewhere around 2% of consumers end up using a personal finance manager (“PFM”), with Intuit Quicken and Microsoft Money dominating the market. Both products have been around for — you guessed it — more than a decade. This dramatic disconnect between consumer demand and actual market penetration is mind-boggling.” (source)

    I’m one of the 2%, so that’s why Mint isn’t so much for me. Their target is the other 98%. That’s a big market 😉

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