Guillaume's blog

Thoughts on the future of money

Posts from the “Software” Category

What the IT at Google Bank would look like

Posted on May 30th, 2008

As I was watching the Google I/O keynote presentation, I thought about how all the development tools provided by Google (Google Gears, GData, OpenSocial, etc.) could be put to work to create a Google-powered Bank, and what the IT architecture of this Google Bank would look like. Here is how I think it could look like: All user interaction devices, whether it is a teller workstation, mobile phone, ATM machine, kiosk would provide access to the bank via any of the standard Web browsers (Opera, IE, Firefox, Safari). If access to device-specific functionality is required, it would be done by Google Gears (say for instance, that I want to access the ATM’s cash dispensing functionality, or I want to access the mobile phone’s built-in…

The problem with banking innovation and how to fix it.

Posted on May 19th, 2008

Allen Weinberg has a great report on the first day at Payments 2008 that confirms some of the thoughts I’ve had in the past few weeks: that non-banks are becoming the primary source of banking innovation, threatening to relegate banks to mere accountants. Allen cites the difficulty for banks to hire innovative employees because their lack of coolness, and I partly agree, but I think that is a bit too imprecise. It’s a bit like saying “We failed b/c we are were not lucky”. I think smart innovative employees go to companies that have an innovative management environment and culture, and there are very practical ways to create such an environment and culture, if the top management wants to. To me such a culture…

To open source or not? or to do both? Open source as market segmentation tool.

Posted on May 7th, 2008

Several years ago, I found myself confronted with the decision of whether to open source or not the software of a company I co-founded. While I could find considerable literature on the strategic benefits of open-source freeware as an enabler modern version of the razor and blade strategy (giveaway the client or development tool or razor, sell the server or the runtime or the blades), our software was not lending itself very well to such a separation. My question was rather: if we have to choose between open sourcing blades and razors or nothing, what model would maximize our revenues, given our target market? By elaborating on the simple notion of “why giveaway something you can charge for”, I developed the chart below to…

Designing a successful Web API

Posted on May 6th, 2008

Designing the most widely adopted Web API for a particular functional domain does not merely take to offer the best and most specialized functionality at the best price, as reading Adam Smith would suggest. It takes two additional things: reducing the cognitive load on the developer using the Web API, and reducing his risks of using the Web API. Reducing the cognitive load includes: Making it easy to find on search engines Not requiring registration for an API key to get access to a version of the API that is not production grade (for instance,  a version that is much slower than the production version) Providing multiple representations (XML, XHTML, JSON, plain text, binary, etc.) for messages and multiple language bindings for the most…

Notes on Jeff Nolan’s Software VC Outlook for 2008

Posted on March 29th, 2008

Jeff NolanBryan Stolle of Mohr Davidow Ventures wrote this piece on investment opportunities in software for this year. Here are my takeaways: An innovative business model (ex. SaaS) is not enough. Focusing on solving an urgent, valued, critical business problem first and using/combining known models that fits well the solution requirements is the key of any successful venture. For instance, some companies like SaaS ease-of-setup but they don’t like having their data in the cloud. Their need can be answered by combining SaaS model with the appliance model. I think this should be particularly seducing to the ultra-conservative financial services industry. Actual operations globalization and decentralization of improvements (“IT consumerism”) is a driving force behind new software investments. I wonder if that goes with…