Scripting News for 9/18/07

A killer app? 

Mint sounds like something I’ve been waiting for.

Like something everyone will want.

Now, should I trust them with my data??

BTW, it’s refreshing that someone, whoever they are, saw their way through the maze of BS products that Silicon Valley keeps coming up with and made something obvious and widely useful. That’s the kind of stuff I like to see. :-)

PS: I did a search and found out that Mint is one of the 40 products announced at TC40. It should win the $50K award, if the execution is anything more than passing. Best idea at the show, by far.

PPS: Fred Wilson writes to say Mint is not a new idea, that Wesabe, a company he has invested in, has been offering a similar product for over a year. He also sent a pointer to their Security and Privacy FAQ, a very inspiring document.

Is a tech bust coming soon? 

Fred Wilson thinks so.

And I agree.

The reason the tech sector runs in cycles of euphoric booms and deep busts is that there is little support for long-term investment in tech. The new concepts that will fuel the next boom cycle are already here, but there isn’t enough money flowing into developing them. The ideas that are getting investment are more and more derivative of the original idea that fueled the boom cycle that is now (likely) coming to an end.

If you look back at the last two busts, there was one in the early 90s when the software boom had run out of juice, and then in the early 00s when the web boom had run its course. In both cases, the seeds of the next boom were already planted, but the investors weren’t pushing money in their direction. The savior after the early 90s bust was the web, and the second was what they call Web 2.0, which is a really lame way to describe the networked creative environment, what I called the Two-Way Web.

I’m going to be in NY in October, and I hope to meet with Fred and other investors to talk about how we can soften the busts and enhance the booms.

Networking in SF hotels? 

Here’s a problem that some investment dollars help solve.

Apparently, the TechCrunch 40 conference isn’t streaming to the outside world because the Palace Hotel has incredibly lame networking, and they won’t allow conference promoters to bring in more wires? This is what I hear, although it’s not confirmed. Emails to the conference promoters yesterday were not responded to.

I’ve also received emails from a number of companies announcing products at the show who want coverage on Scripting News, so my interest is not entirely idle. :-)

So what does it take to establish one hotel in SF as the default tech conference hotel? Networking! Geez, you’d think it’s obvious by now. We do things that require networks. Look in any conference room around the world for a clue. And supposedly San Francisco is the central node in the network of technology bringing all this great stuff to the rest of the world.

So where is the hotel that gives us the very most basic technology to wire up conferences so that the whole world can participate?

Do we need to move the tech industry to another city?

Someone please ask the Mayor or Google or someone in charge when they’re going to fix this problem. It should have been solved in 1997, and it’s already 2007.

BTW, here’s a clue: there are some great business opportunities, beyond conferences, for the first physical location in downtown SF to solve this problem. Just ask Loic. :-)

15 responses to this post.

  1. if you want good signal penetration at a hotel you bring it in yourself. if you want outgoing bandwidth, you make arrangements beforehand and have it put in yourself. It’s a simple solution, really.Hotels sell sleep and bad conference rooms
    Conference production companies know this before they ink a deal with a specific hotel.Another thing, a smart first-time conference producer would do well to bring in cellular transceivers on wheels (called COWs) from the service providers to make sure there is adequate cell service during demonstrations. the best way to do this is to query each mobile phone app provider, determine the common carrier then bring in a COW from that carrier. Once that is done, alert all of the mobile phone app demonstrators of the availability of a specific carriers COW and then stand bye for the whining. If you think hotels give a damn about technology conferences specifically, youre mistaken. GThey care about revenue and room bookings. Period. T3 lines interfere with revenue on a daily basis.
    Someday you and I might talk about the realities of the conference business, David.

    Best
    Jim Forbes

    Reply

  2. Jim, this is how I innovate, I do something over and over until I learn where its deficiencies are and then I ask why it has those deficiencies, and if they are structural (as you say they are in this case) I figure it’s time for something new, and I guess that the established leaders won’t be able to compete, or won’t see the need to compete until it’s way too late.

    You’ve just explained why the hotel business will never figure it out. Fine by me. The problem *will* get solved, because it’s too juicy to leave unsolved. I promise you that Jim, and I know something about how innovative stuff comes to be, as I’m sure you know.

    Dave Winer, at age 52, hardly a neophyte, btw.

    Reply

  3. Instead of another city, how about moving tech to another country? I hear New Zealand is lovely ;)

    Or at least, move the people who actually want to create new tech. Leave the carpetbaggers, company flippers, and hustlers in SF, its perfect for them!

    Reply

  4. the hotels in Japan have it figured out. thanks in part to DoCoMo.
    Oh my IT infrastructure “conference punch list” ran about three pages. th only places that were IT conference friendly were those that did a lot o business with Microsoft, IBM or big phone companies.
    thanks for the reply, Dave.

    Best
    JimF

    Reply

  5. From Mint.com’s announcement to beta testers: “Thank you for respecting our press embargo. The rules of TechCrunch 40 forbade advanced coverage – any leaks would have meant being kicked out of the conference entirely! You are now free to write what you like about Mint, good and bad, screen shots and all.”

    Press embargoes are so old media! And holding back for TC40? Sheesh.

    Reply

  6. Kind of surprised Mint is at Techcrunch. Mint’s been around for awhile…nice little package, beautiful graphics.

    Reply

  7. @PXLated – are you thinking of Mint, the web stats package at http://www.haveamint.com? Because that’s totally different than mint.com (online finance management). Confusing, no? ;-)

    Dave, I agree with the networking hotel idea. Chris and I have been fighting with this problem for the last few Gnomedexes. I had hoped to get Intel to step up with WiMax or something, to accommodate the bandwidth needs of a large geek contingent, but alas, we haven’t found a good solution. Even the idea of bringing your own access, a la EVDO or HSDPA cards, can fall flat when you can’t get reception in the main conference hall, or there’s interference or overload from all other people with the same idea.

    Big opportunity here. Hope someone fills it soon. :-)

    Reply

  8. John…Ya, I blew it, typed Mint in the url and Safari autofilled the other Mint…Just realized that. Dang!

    Reply

  9. Posted by Nigel Rowe on September 18, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Mint is not new, I’ve been using Yodlee.com for over 7 years and they are continually evolving. Their service (surprisingly so) is much better than most bank sites I have tried. I can’t understand why they don’t promote themselves more.

    Reply

  10. How about Portland? We’re ready for the tech industry to relocate. :-)

    Reply

  11. i think we should have a discussion about financial data on the web.

    how secure is it, where your passwords/logins are stored, who owns it once you’ve uploaded it to the web, and how you can interact with it (auto tagging or community tagging), and how the meta data that is created is used.

    mint, wesabe, geezeo, buxfer, and soon quicken, all offer this today on the web. but what does it mean, and what rules should exist?

    that’s the next discussion we should have now that Mint has been adorned by Calacanis as the best presenter

    Reply

  12. yeah, I brought up Mint to my wife and her #1 concern was security of our data. Mint will be a humongous target over the next 6 months… I’ll be waiting to see if a Data Valdez happens.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the sad state of networking in hotels. The excuse “bring your own” or “that’s the way it is” is baloney, and they know it. They just don’t care.

    Knoxville has nice weather, friendly people, good food and some big, fat pipes… oh, and we’re willing to share. Bring us your tech! (And ORNL is right next door)

    Reply

  13. Bank of America just added “my Portfolio” to thier online, and it sounds like Mint does pretty much the same thing. I signed up for the BoA option and added all my different creditcards and other accounts to it and have a overall view of them all in one place.

    Reply

  14. The guts of Mint, the BoA “My Portfolio” thing, and the online account managers at almost all financial institutions in the US are some version of a Yodlee product. If you want to try out the development version of Yodlee, before it gets shipped to the banks, you can go to moneycenter.yodlee.com. It’s got lots of nice features, including budgeting and billpay, that aren’t in the older version of Yodlee that Mint and the banks are using.

    The only question is, “How comfortable are you using beta software to manage your finances?”

    Of course, Mint is still beta, too, from the looks of it.

    Reply

  15. I’m very glad that others are asking the important questions about financial data on the web and how the data is stored. Security was obviously the most important concern when I worked for an Internet banking company ~10 years ago, and given the complexity required to truly secure those systems, I’m rather suspicious now of some resource-limited startups attempting similar financial transaction plays without the requisite network security architecture. This is obviously another place where transparency and disclosure are of the utmost importance.

    @Mr. Gunn, Yodlee apparently has “over 100 banks” (from their website), but Digital Insight, recently acquired by Intuit, has -thousands- so I don’t quite understand your point about Yodlee having “almost all financial institutions in the US.” :-)

    Reply

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