In previous entries I’ve commented on how the New York Times has the best website of any news organization that I frequent, bar none. One of the things that I like about their website is that you can find an interesting, timely article on just about any topic…which is what I did the other night!
I was sitting at my desk reviewing my personal finances (which is a nightly ritual for me) and I was thinking about how I used to use both Microsoft Money and Intuit’s Quicken software. These days I don’t use anything besides some spreadsheets that I created and, frankly, they work great! But as I was going over my finances I started to think about the old Mint.com account that I opened up about a year ago before shutting it down.
Some months ago I remembered hearing that Mint.com was purchased by Intuit, which I thought was a real shame since Mint.com had a great user interface and was very user-friendly. Intuit doesn’t have the best record on either of those issues. Anyway, as I was thinking about this stuff I pulled up the New York Times website and wouldn’t you know that there was an interview with the creator of Mint.com (who is now a Vice President at Intuit) right there on the front page? It was a good interview, too! For example, I found out things like this…
Q. Are there parts of corporate culture that you find strange?
A. The corporate campus seems so quiet. A start-up is overflowing with energy. Here it’s a little more subdued. They’ve got these high, very depressing cubicles.
If I wanted a new computer or had some I.T. issue at Mint, I just walked to the tech ops team and they would get me set up in a couple of minutes. At Intuit, being a big company, you call the help desk, and the help desk has been outsourced to some foreign country — I can’t place the accent. They really have no idea of where you are or what your needs are. It’s the standard phone service when you get sent to a foreign country, but this is an internal help desk. It’s a real pain. I expressed this to one of my Quicken colleagues and he said, “Yeah, we just never call the help desk. Don’t bother, here’s who you need to call to skirt around the system…” I thought, that’s sort of dumb in a bureaucratic way.
But at the same time, a big company has processes with much more rigor than what we ever had in a start-up. They have great specialization when it comes to retail, packaging, search engine marketing or affiliate programs. And the financial rigor of a big company is phenomenal in terms of projections, making sure everything is on track on a weekly basis, or reporting your numbers — they’re very, very good at that sort of thing.
I found that interesting, but I also like reading about corporate culture. The interview – linked above – is a short read and one that I think you’ll enjoy if you’re interested in the internet and technology or just how entrepreneurs are integrated into established organizations.