I found this blog via a CNN article about the rise of Mint and the fall of another early company in the online financial management space. The company, Wesabe, was not one that I’d heard of previously, but I was definitely late to the Mint game. And unlike my colleague Lisa, I’m not a Mint zealot either.
The interesting part of the the blog was the matter of fact retelling of the way Wesabe missed the mark by the former founder/CEO/visionary of the company, Marc Hedlund. His company was an early mover in offering financial management functionality out in the cloud. Many banks and products like Quicken had previously tried in the early 2000s, but the advent of Web 2.0 technologies allowed better results and more customer friendly options. And Wesabe stepped into that fold. They began to grow using VC funding and were even self funding for a period of about a year before succumbing to their strategic missteps.
Maybe it was cathartic for Marc, and maybe it was a little self serving as he wanted to make sure his once growing company wasn’t forgotten for its influence in the financial management world. But, his thoroughly described anecdotes of where Wesabe went wrong are very admirable to me. You don’t see many executives step up and call out the critical errors that they made, which caused precipitous falls in their companies. Often times, you can’t even get a C level executive to admit to any error at all, rather it’s easier to blame their results on the hyper competitive marketplace, sluggish economy or an ineffective/unsupportive board.
Marc’s honest self critique is a quality I consider essential in leadership. And something I wish we would see more of in modern corporate America.