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Boston-based online money management tool Geezeo will announce tomorrow the launch of a white label version of their application. The service will be called Geezeo Spectrum and will be available to financial institutions in the U.S. As you can see in the screenshot below, all branded Geezeo elements would be replaced with the brand of the financial institution. Pricing for the white label version was not provided.
Geezeo co-founder Peter Glyman tells me that the white-label offering was core to their strategy since the beginning and the time is right as they have been receiving more and more inquiries about the service. This actually is a good time for Geezeo to reach out to the financial institutions. The banks are trying to keep their costs down but provide enough unique services to keep their customers. This white label option will remove the need to build a similar suite of tools in-house and eliminate the maintenance costs as well.
Boston-based online money management tool Geezeo has launched a new financial marketplace today. The basic concept behind the marketplace is to offer Geezeo site visitors and customers a way to see a variety of financial offers in a vertical. The categories include: credit cards, checking, savings, student loans and brokerage. It appears that auto loans and mortgages are coming soon.
It looks like a great way for Geezeo to earn additional revenue based on the affiliate revenue earned from users who clickthrough the marketplace. Geezeo co-founder Peter Glyman tells me that they are looking to widgetize the marketplace and those who embed the widget.
As the online financial management space continues to heat up, two of the major players have announced redesigns of their financial management portals. Boston-based Geezeo was first up launching their redesign last month. Today Mint has announced their redesign which was needed based on the new features the company has added over the past year. Just like our redesign, it’s important to consider when it’s better to redesign than to just keep adding features on to the current site.
Mint has also started to add more content to the site including how-to guides on reducing credit card debt and paying off student loans. Both Geezeo and Mint have great personal finance blogs. This content is very search engine friendly and should help Mint to drive more visitors to the site and potentially to the Mint service.
Mint currently self-reports over 400,000 customers (no word on active customers).
Geezeo’s new design is in beta and here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:
Mint’s new design is available today to all of their customers:
Boston-based online money management tool Geezeo has taken a $1.2 million investment from TheStreet.com. The investment equals a 13% in Geezeo and the company noted that TheStreet.com has an option to purchase the company over the next year based on an equity value of $12 million. The deal also will match Geezeo with Promotions.com (recently acquired by TheStreet.com). This match will allow Geezeo to run more marketing campaigns to push their signup levels even further.
Geezeo’s tagline is, "Educated Financial Decisions." The tools they provide help you to track, monitor and review your finances to keep things in order. With the current state of the economy, Geezeo should be playing up the nature of their tool in helping stretch every dollar. This deal represents more than just an investment by a VC; it will provide significant distribution for Geezeo and increase their membership levels by joining the mainstream and leaving the tech-only market.
The other sites that TheStreet currently operates include: Stockpickr.com, BankingMyWay.com and MainStreet.com. I am curious whether any of the current U.S. online financial tools will expand internationally.
Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) has launched their new online product called Quicken Online. Immediately one starts to think of the "new" players in this area which include: SpendView, Mint, Geezeo and Wesabe. There’s certainly room for multiple players in this market, especially as each offers something a bit different. But Intuit can outspend all of them on marketing and will most likely be able to grab the mainstream segment relatively easy.
Quicken Online has a different business model than the competition – free trial then $2.99/month. Most of the competitors are either using some form of advertising or, in Mint’s case, savings proposals based on the data you upload.
If you’ve been reading CenterNetworks for a while, you know that I have issues with all of these sites that require you to give them all of your financial passwords so they can access your system. Wesabe is the only one who offers an upload option so you can decide how much to trust them. Quicken Online faces the same issues as the others as you are required to give them all of your logins and passwords for your financial institutions. Unlike the others, Intuit has a 10 billion dollar market cap and has been creating Quicken for 25 years. Does that change my opinion on it? Perhaps a pinch but still not enough as I’d like. Especially when at the end of the video below they joke that they purchased a verisign security system to make customers feel better. Oh snap, the Verisign logo is gone now – but it’s in the video – what does that mean?
Outside of the data security issues, the application looks like a standard Web application. Think of the most basic Quicken version, and you have it. I would have preferred that they separated it from the rest of the Quicken Web site and given it a fresh look and feel. Right now it feels jammed into the old Quicken site. This is an area that the competition will need to capitalize on. Especially because from what I’ve seen the competition is using "socialness" and most of them are using heavier trending to help you spend less and save more.
To try to hit the early adopter tech set, they created an iPhone app. Actually it’s not iPhone specific, it’s just a mobile version of the site. They do note that this version is only available on the iPhone and not the Blackberry or other mobile devices.
Here are a couple screenshots showing the text functions and the iPhone mobile site:
Online financial tool Geezeo has sent over some updates I thought were worth mentioning. This seems to be online financial services week at CN after our interview with Wesabe yesterday. The first change is their new home page – it incorporates their new pig which stands for piggy bank for savings. Thought it looks more like a pig on a platter. :-P
They have also switched their live chat from Meebo to 37Signals Campfire product. Co-founder Peter Glyman said of the change, "… to allow for group chat and better real time support."
The other addition to the site is budgeting. Glyman notes, "Taking center stage is the ability to set spending targets and measure your progress throughout the month aka "Budgets". Personally I think budgeting is incredibly painful and something I’ve never been very good at. So…keeping our low tolerance for hard core budgeting (yawn) in mind we set out to create a "better way". We knew that when we built our budgeting features we would have to do it right..do it simple, make it easy and fun. That’s the Geezeo way. That’s how we roll." Budgeting is critical for proper money management and will be a good addition to the Geezeo feature lineup.
The budgets allow you to track how your spending works in categories along with across categories to make sure your spending makes sense as a whole. They are working on sms alerts as you approach your budget targets. The one thing they can’t do is prevent you from overspending!
Lastly, yes, I still have my security concerns with Geezeo. I know they are obsessed with security but it takes time for trust to be built. Check out our extensive coverage of Geezeo.
Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with Wesabe co-founder Marc Hedlund. Marc was in town for today’s portfolio summit at Union Square Ventures. Let’s dispense with the formalities first: Wesabe was not named after the Japanese root vegetable, that’s Wasabi. Marc said the name comes from the spanish language as is a combination of "we" and "you". It’s sexy.
I always look forward to meeting startups and developers for our conversations but this one I was really looking forward to. I have written several times about the other two big startups in the financial space: Mint and Geezeo and being a former accountant, the personal financial space has a tremendous amount of room for growth. My biggest issue with the other two is around security. Geezeo has more features than Mint but I have the same security concerns with both. Unfortunately Mint has some interesting corporate goals and has ignored most of my questions but I am still open to a discussion with them as well.
Now let’s focus on Wesabe. We began by discussing marketing plans and Marc noted that the majority of traffic to Wesabe comes from Google which is stronger over time than a blog post on a top blog because Googlers actually need his product each time vs. a small handful from a blog post. Wesabe has a very strong community.
The founders spent two years interviewing over 1500 people about their spending habits and what they would be looking for in an online tool. Their goal was to build something robust because, "If it’s the same as Quicken, why not just use Quicken?" Wesabe is an online financial management tool. It uses tagging to help organize your charges.
Most of our time together was discussing security. Where Wesabe differs from Mint/Geezeo is that Wesabe allows you to "decide how much to trust Wesabe". What this means is that you have a choice to either plug in your logins or you can upload the exported files from your bank Web site. I like this a lot. Their application for logins also works very differently than the others. It’s a desktop app (or Firefox addon) in which you put your logins into it and after logging in, Wesabe exports the files and then it works the same as if you upload the files yourself. All login info is stored on your desktop pc and not on the remote servers. They have a data bill of rights for their customers.
We spoke about whether they use a middleman to get the data. Wesabe doesn’t; they build their own from the ground up. Both mint and Geezeo use data middlemen. Yodelee is one of the middlemen and Marc noted that when they met with Yodelee, their policy is to retain the user’s data even when the customer deletes the data off the Web site and there are very high data charges associated with Yodelee. I am sure there are benefits for using the data middleman as well.
Wesabe has an open API to allow others to build on what they have created. They are working on adding monetization currently and Marc believes that advertising won’t be one of the options because he wants you to save your money, not spend it on whatever is being advertised. Their business model will never be at odds with their customer focus of helping customers reach their financial goals. You can even speak directly to the CEO every day.
Wesabe began development in December 2005 and launched in November 2006. I asked if it was in Beta and Marc slightly raised his voice and said, "No way we would be in beta, this is your financial data we are working with!" We then spoke about the new beta software on Virgin America and how scary it is to be on a beta airplane but I will save that for another post :)
Lastly we spoke about the community aspect of Wesabe. Wesabe aggregates data from it’s customers anonymously to provide tips and recommendations for it’s members. I wish I had pulled out my camera when Marc explained how this works but it’s pretty interesting. Let’s say that 10 Wesabe customers show charges for a new pizzeria and then the next month there are no charges from that pizzeria, it might be safe to say that the customers didn’t enjoy the experience. Wesabe can help alert others in the same area to previous customer’s reactions. And the same is true in reverse.
All in all, I am most impressed with Wesabe’s ability to allow me to choose how much I want to trust them. All three services mentioned could be the big winner over time and there is plenty of room for all three to do very well. What’s great is each of them is taking a different approach to their product which should provide a good option for each type of person.
Thanks for spending some time with me Marc!