Dave Winer has raised a kerfluffle with his post Why Feedburner is Trouble. He never liked “giving so much power to one company,” especially now that they’ve sold to a bigger company. Fred Wilson, whose Union Square Ventures invested in Feedburner, says Mr. Winer shouldn’t be concerned because it’s so easy to leave. Robert Scoble says that the real issue is big companies messing around with standards. Donna Bogatin says that the real issue is Google hoovering up everyone’s proprietary data.
I have some of the same concerns about Wesabe.
I’ve been ogling Wesabe since Fred Wilson’s first post three months ago. I crave its streamlined data entry, tagging, and web access. I buy the extravagant privacy and security measures. I understand the benefits of anonymously aggregated data and the possibilities for social networking around personal finance.
But it’s one thing to open up your credit card, checkbook, taxes, bills, investments, and tags to a small, independent company whose CEO sets aside 2 hours a day to talk with customers, and another to open them to Google, Yahoo, ACNielsen, or Equifax.
Union Square Ventures led the Series A round for Wesabe. When the number is right, Wesabe will sell to a bigger company. No complaints; that’s how VC works. But there’s no way for Wesabe to bind its eventual acquirer not to be evil. Who wants to see this announcement?
If you take no action by June 15, 2010, the rights to your data will transfer from Wesabe to [Google].
Wesabe insists that its users still own their data, but it’s already slicing and dicing for their benefit. It’s a small step from there to mining for salable data. Sending aggregated data outside the community would violate the Wesabe ethos, but maybe not the Google ethos.
If Wesabe were acquired, I could always pull my data. But that kind of disruption built in 3 or 4 years from now is a huge flaw for a financial service (especially a really good one). So, unless I can be convinced that Wesabe will “sit tight,” it has yet to cross the chasm for me.
UPDATE: More thoughts on what Wesabe has done well.