Corvallis-headquartered Strands has always had a definitive focus on the power of recommender technology—a technology that use an amalgamation of personal actions, actions of like-minded individuals, and inferences from those actions to make recommendations. But they’ve struggled a bit finding the appropriate and market worthy applications of that technology. They’ve pursued music, lifestreaming, and—most recently—exercise.
Ryan Williams, the guy who has worked to make the NetworthIQ service one of the more popular personal finance management services on the Web, finally announced the news this morning, bringing to fruition the news at which he hinted long, long ago. (Looks like Ryan’s old Twitter account has been deleted, but here are a couple of my and Jason Harris’ replies to some of Ryan’s cryptic hints.)
So, now the news is out. And it’s great news for a couple of Silicon Forest startups.
News, in fact, that a number of outlets have already beat me to covering—The Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, GigaOm… oh a little blog you may have heard of called TechCrunch, which had this to say:
Just over two weeks ago Strands acquired Expensr, and now the company is announcing its acquisition of NetworthIQ. Both are personal finance applications that Strands wanted mostly for their human capital, but also for some of their technology assets. The terms of both deals were not disclosed.
Ryan provided some insight in his post entitled “Breaking the silence“:
It was just over 3 years ago that we started working on NetworthIQ. It was a bit of a bumpy ride. In the first couple months, I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it, but with a couple of high-profile press mentions we were off and running. The idea for NetworthIQ was pretty basic, apply the popular Web 2.0 principles of the time (social networking, public sharing, collective intelligence) and apply it to personal finance, something that hadn’t been done before. There was the occasional “this is the dumbest site ever” comment, but for the most part we always got great response and feedback from those that signed up, which was what kept me going.
But, as usual, I just wasn’t satisfied. So I asked Ryan if he could give me some more insight on how the deal went down and what it meant for the future. And Ryan was kind enough to share some additional thoughts on this momentous occasion.
Surprisingly, the news that took so long to make it to the public, actually came about pretty quickly.
“It’s funny, in the weeks before I was contacted by Strands, I had been scanning their jobs after the latest funding round,” said Williams. “Just to see, you know? Nothing serious. But, then I heard from them and the talks progressed pretty quickly.”
A music recommendation service and a personal finance management service would have seemed like strange bedfellows at the time. But that was because none of us knew about moneyStrands until just recently.
But Strands and Williams knew.
“It was easy to see there was a good fit with what we were doing on NetworthIQ and where Strands was going with the moneyStrands project,” he said. “In a matter of a couple weeks I was ready to come onboard.”
A Cinderella story? A side project turned full time? Absolutely.
“Since starting NetworthIQ, I was working towards being able to work on a startup full-time, but as a relatively older web entrepreneur, there were more things to worry about. I hadn’t yet reached the point of being able to drop the day job,” said Williams. “This was a chance to make that happen, and with the talented and driven Strands team, it made the decision easy.”
But, even at this moment of victory, the humble Williams downplays the whole thing.
“I know for many, it’s not the most exciting technology to be working on—personal finance tools—but I’m really drawn to building things that are useful to me personally,” he said. “And personal finance tools are what I spend a good amount of time in. Plus with the way things are going with the economy and our increasing dependence on consumer debt, I think it’s a very important area to innovate in.”
So what does the future hold for Strands and its new technology? And where is that innovation going to take place?
Unfortunately, that’s another secret for which we’ll have to wait.