2 July 2007 @ 2pm


“a _________ killer”

I’m finishing up some client work at the moment, but I wanted to take a quick break to clear my head.

Brian Oberkirch has an excellent post — We Stopped Playing King of the Mountain Long Ago — up at his blog. It makes a point that I’ve been thinking about over the last few weeks: web software development is not a zero-sum game and it hurts all of us when we think of it that way.

What is it with tech punditry and the ‘there can be only one’ line of thinking? As though all Web apps are drawn toward some great quickening with a last one standing triumphant. …

Pitting the charismatic founders of Web dev firms against each other WWF-style has zippo to do with product take up. Maybe that’s the real thing I’m rebelling against: all the inside baseball that passes for discussion about Web apps and how to make them wonderful. It’s the geek version of Entertainment Tonight: instead of torrid affairs, we have funding rounds. Member bases, page views, buyouts. The discussion takes place at entirely the wrong level.

I must come from a different planet. (Ok, true, South Louisiana *is* a different planet. Certainly not America, at least.)

Instead, I see a return to Mom & Pop successes. Millions of successes blooming. My father moved to a new place and built a sustainable business for 30 years with little more than willfullness, back breaking work and creative deal making. In the sweet by & by, he created a fantastic life for his family, contributed back to a new town that took him in, gave jobs to many, many men who needed someone to take a chance on them. And he made friends and became part of something larger than himself.

Sounds like a kind of success I wouldn’t mind emulating.

Me neither.

Case in point: PearBudget development has, honestly, stalled out for the last two or three months, as I’ve been focusing on another web app. But I do intend to get back to PearBudget’s development. In the meantime, others have come along, and have been pushing the envelope in terms of web-based financial services.

Obviously, there’s Wesabe, which has done a terrific job of navigating the funding rounds and is currently at a 10x valuation of $47 Million. That’s awesome. I am honestly thrilled for Marc, Jason, and everyone else at Wesabe.

There’s also Mint, which holds promise. I’m a little worried for them (certainly not of them), but those fears might be unfounded, and I’ll have to (possibly) write that up in a different post. But they’ve also apparently received funding, and could do a great job. We’ll see.

And the sleeper app in the personal finance is the poorly-named, but astounding execution of Expensr. I am very excited to see what they do.

And then there’s PearBudget.

The thing is: I’m not competing against these other guys. At least, I don’t see it that way. Maybe they’d say that I’m naïve. But I see all of us as competing — not against one another — but against predatory lenders, overconsumption, and financial illiteracy. If these other financial apps have success — that is, if their users have success, using their tool — then we’re all better off for it.

It’s not as though, should Wesabe be acquired, PearBudget can’t still help people live a more fulfilled life. If, through my apps, I’m able to help people live better lives, and in the process, provide a good life for my family, then I’ll have done a good job.

There is no zero-sum in this game.


Posted by
26 August 2007 @ 2pm

Really, I’ll be deleting this comment once I know what comments look like on this blog.

Posted by
26 August 2007 @ 2pm

Also, I should see what a comment looks like when it wraps to several lines. How long is the line? Does it follow the pattern of the parent div?

Posted by
23 November 2007 @ 2pm

Thanks for the personal finance apps links… now to get my wife to actually pick and use one of them…

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More like Basho; Less like Tolstoy constraints