Great exit for a startup – not so sure about concerned users. But the big question today is why it made sense for Intuit and what the future holds for Mint and its users. The consensus is that first of all this has been a defensive move. Mint started to bite into the Intuit / Quicken pie, and Intuit just had to stop it.
There is some irony in this deal: the playbook had been written by Microsoft, against Intuit. Intuit created the personal finance space, first with Quicken, than adding TurboTax by way of an acquisition. Then it added online services, later communities, and the bundle of all this soon became attractive enough for Microsoft to attempt to acquire Intuit, for $1.5B which was a huge amount in 1994-95. When the DOJ intervened, MS changed tactics: “If you can’t own it, kill it” became the new mantra. When it became obvious Microsoft would never kill Intuit, the Borg lost interest, finally announcing the discontinuation of Microsoft Money.
A move that no doubt benefited Mint, Wesabe, and of course Quicken. This is where the users come in: personal finance is the one sacred area most people don’t want to fiddle around with. Mint has gained boatloads of refugees from Microsoft Money, who have barely settled in, and are likely not ready for yet another move.
Some of today’s commentators expect Intuit to simply kill Mint, in order to protect Intuits market. I doubt it … for now. I also agree with Ben, who points out another aspects of the transaction, besides it being a defensive move, namely connectedness, data aggregation and benchmarking, and the possibility of entirely new business services built on these. I also agree with Ben that “Intuit understands the new business paradigm well enough to not make the mistake of disenfranchising the Mint user base” – for now.
But as a dual acquisition-survivor (none as owner ) I must say duality, maintaining two brands / products / entities does not typically work. It’s simply not in any company’s best interest to maintain two competing product lines, let alone brands. So here’s what I expect:
- No dramatic change to start with, Mint is left alone while Quicken gets some Mint-smartness
- Both products start getting similar features, accounts merge without requiring user data migration
- The Mint brand gets dropped, it becomes Quicken Online version xyz.
End of story. The Personal Finance market is back with it’s original owner, Intuit.
Update: Harry McCracken has another version of the Mintuit logo.
Update #2: More on how the merger will play out.
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