I’ve written before that the best thing that can happen to a startup is competition. Like so many things, there are levels of success associate with this. Personal finance software company Mint hit the jackpot. Not only do they have a competitor in the form of Intuit’s Quicken, but said competitor responded foolishly by sending Mint a legal letter demanding that they substantiate their customer growth claims by a certain date or else. Of course Mint saw to it that this letter became very very public. In short order Intuit was faced with a fairly serious PR disaster. The blogosphere saw the letter clearly for what it was:
– At best Intuit looks like a bunch of clueless corporate types throwing their legal department’s weight around against the Little Guy. We love the Little Guys in this country and especially on the Web!
– At worst, Intuit showed the world their Naked Fear of Mint by Intuit. That added tremendously to Mint’s credibility and damaged the credibility of Intuit.
It’s reached the point where the WSJ is talking about it on top of all the blog activity.
Score: Mint 1, Intuit -1 (worse than zero, they’ve hurt their position with this unforced error)
Handle smaller competitors like porcupines. They’re unlikely to kill you, but they sure can sting.