Strands (formally MyStrands) is branching out from mobile and music, the company has announced the acquisition of Expensr, an online personal finance application. Strands is also launching moneyStrands, a personal money management solution. We've noted before that Strands is a company to watch, having taken $55m in funding so far and using it to develop a broad range of recommendation technologies.In the first real sign that recommendation engine
What's interesting about this news is that Strands said they were going to take their algorithms elsewhere - and this is what we're seeing for the first time today. Even though they are making good revenue ($12M sales in 2007), the company is not content to sit back. They are going for the big markets. This is precisely what Web 2.0 guru Tim O'Reilly asked for in his keynote speech at last week's Expo; indeed O'Reilly is an investor in competing financial product Wesabe. The bottom line is that Web 2.0/3.0 in financial markets represents a lot of opportunity.
Strands currently has 150 employees and it sees 2008 as "our year to market". Strands told ReadWriteWeb that it plans to ultimately apply its recommendation technologies to 3 areas:
- Business solutions - helping people find content in a client site
- Social media - Strands says it will soon launch services "to help people discover things they might like, based on their online behavior" and "help them make sense of all their dispersed social media activities"
- Personal finance - helping people consolidate their dispersed financial data, and helping them find new ways to save money and invest.
Strands sees these three areas as having "strong personalization challenges."
moneyStrands + Expensr
The personal finance part is what is being announced today. Currently in private beta testing, moneyStrands is "an online money management solution that allows users to aggregate their online financial information in one place, providing them with an instant snapshot of all their finances." Similar products on the market today include Wesabe, Mint and a kiwi startup with global ambitions called Xero. moneyStrands is employing recommendations technologies, such as enabling users to anonymously compare themselves to others with similar traits - e.g. demographics.Given Strands' experience with deploying their music social networking service over mobile devices, it makes sense for them to launch versions of moneyStrands for Blackberry, iPhone and Nokia (S60) browsers. The product also has a widget platform.
Expensr, the app Strands has acquired, is a free online application that combines social networking with financial management. There is no word yet on whether Expensr will be integrated into moneyStrands; and if so how. As of now it will continue to run as a separate service.
As we've noted before, we at ReadWriteWeb are following the trend of recommendations closely - it was one of the 5 major trends we outlined in our toolkit for 2008 and was featured in my Media08 presentation Web Tech Trends for 2008 and Beyond. Strands continues to pique our interest, but let us know in the comments what other recommendation startups we should be looking at too.