October 29, 2010

You Only Get Five Tickets

Warren Buffett is renowned for his ability to wait patiently for the right investment opportunity to come along. Instead of spreading his capital across a wide range of investments, he loads up on the very few that demonstrate tremendous upside potential. That's one of the primary reasons he's been so much more successful than most professional money managers. To cultivate that mindset, he once proposed that investors imagine they only had five tickets for their entire lifetimes, and making an investment required the use of one of those tickets. Just think how much more selective you would be if your portfolio operated under those limitations!

October 26, 2010

It's Not Just About Eyeballs

Daniel Lyons reports on financial problems at Digg and offers a warning for Web 2.0 outfits:

Digg’s collapse has become a cautionary tale for so-called Web 2.0 companies in Silicon Valley, even the current crop of superstars, like Facebook and Twitter. The basic problem is that these new-media companies don’t really have customers; they have audiences. Starting a company like Digg is less like building a traditional tech company (think Apple or HP) and more like launching a TV show.

October 22, 2010

Wesabe vs. Mint: Lessons Learned

Marc Hedlund recently posted a great piece on why Wesabe lost to Mint in the battle of online personal finance apps. As many of you know, Mint was acquired by Intuit in 2009 for $170 million. Wesabe, on the other hand, closed its doors several months ago. Hedlund was the product designer (and later CEO) at Wasabe, so his point of view is especially relevant. He points out, for example, that Wesabe launched almost a year before Mint, contrary to what a lot of people assume. He also makes it clear that Wesabe's failure had nothing to do with design or brand identity.

Second, Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all, by automatically editing and categorizing their data, reducing the number of fields in their signup form, and giving them immediate gratification as soon as they possibly could; we completely sucked at all of that. Instead, I prioritized trying to build tools that would eventually help people change their financial behavior for the better, which I believed required people to more closely work with and understand their data. My goals may have been (okay, were) noble, but in the end we didn't help the people I wanted to since the product failed. I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all.