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Mint Makes a Quick Mark on Intuit

Mint Makes a Quick Mark on Intuit

As Intuit integrates its $170 million acquisition, Mint founder Aaron Patzer is swiftly reshaping the company's Quicken personal finance software

Aaron Ricadela | Businessweek

Four months after Intuit (INTU) bought personal finance Web site Mint.com, the company is preparing to phase out its Quicken Online software, moving Intuit’s Web users to Mint. The software company plans to combine its technology with Mint’s, making it easier for users to toggle between the Web and their home computers while managing money.

Intuit plans to discontinue Quicken Online, its Web-based money management product, sometime between April and June, and move those users to Mint.com, Intuit Vice-President and Mint founder Aaron Patzer says in an e-mail. Patzer was expanding on comments he had made in an interview for the NBC Bay Area program Press: Here.

“Quicken Online will be end-of-lifed in the next few months,” Patzer said on the program. “We’ll transition those users over to Mint.com,” while preserving their historical financial data, Patzer’s remarks indicate that Intuit is moving swiftly to reshape its software to more closely resemble the Web-based service that gained users at such a brisk clip that it started threatening Intuit’s dominance of the personal finance software market. Patzer had hinted at the plans in an early December blog entry.

In the on-air discussion, Patzer said Intuit plans to keep selling desktop versions of Quicken for Windows PCs and Apple (AAPL) Macs for perhaps five years further. That’s mainly to appeal to “older” users who “feel more comfortable” with their finances on a personal computer, he said. Within about two years, the company plans to combine the software code of Mint.com and Quicken into a product that would let users readily switch between desktop and online modes.

Will older Quicken users adapt?

Patzer said he and his team from Mint have been given lots of leeway to shape Intuit’s personal finance products. “They want to learn more from us than us from them,” he said.

The Mint team possesses the necessary “intellectual capital” to sell customers on third-party financial products that can lower their interest rates or fees, says Cathy Graeber, an analyst at Forrester Research (FORR). Yet it’s not clear that long-time Quicken users will warm to new features on the Web. “It will be really hard for older Boomers and seniors to feel comfortable with something that’s a hybrid of desktop and online [software],” she says.

Intuit’s $170 million acquisition of Mint, announced on Sept. 14, propelled the $3 billion software maker’s personal finance software into the Web 2.0 era. Mint has proven especially popular among Web users in their twenties and thirties because it avoids a lot of the data entry that characterizes much financial software and that many users find off-putting. Mint uses software algorithms to automatically categorize expenses and help users create budgets.