i really hate corporate sellouts (simple, this time)

once again, an app that i heard about, started to use, and fell in love with has sold out to a larger, older entity. simple, which used to be a super slick mobile-only banking service, was bought by bbva compass: fluff piece #1 (which mentions “new features” that were announced almost a month earlier) fluff faq. in the process, they’ve lost the spark that set them apart for me.

while masking the sale in vague, positively-spun language, there were several missteps that have cost them my business.

downgrade in reporting

a huge part of the reason i switched to simple was because of its beautiful data dashboard.


i was previously using mint with my bank of america account. it wasn’t terrible, but it was more of a hassle than i wanted. simple seemed to solve the budgeting and banking problem at once, all with beautiful web and phone interfaces. the new dashboard is not only worse, but it’s even lower functionality than mint.


not only can i not edit transactions from the new dashboard, the categorization is extremely limited. i have to toggle between ‘list’ and 'graph’ to see data within a category (the old dashboard handled that beautifully) and a bunch of the categorization is wrong. total fucking bullshit.

partial transfer of transaction data.

related to #1, i really loved simple because it held all my data without needing a separate tool. despite language in their transfer documents saying that my transaction history would be intact, it’s not. it seems only my income data has transferred; none of my spending numbers seem to appear. how the hell am i supposed to know if i was on target with my budget goals if all i can see is my income?

other feature downgrades

the search functionality and hyperlinked nature of the old dashboard made it super simple to find miscategorized or mislabeled transactions. now almost nothing is hyperlinked and i can’t edit individual or group transactions easily. the overall ui has also gotten clunkier and sharper with less functionality in many places. menus that used to be simple are now split into multiple locations on the page, making it hard to see what i need simultaneously. the search bars used to auto-fill and now they don’t. and when searching, some the filters that are applied don’t even show up. i can’t see what my searches are being filtered by nor can i clear them without resetting the whole window. 

so much bullshit. this happens way too often. maybe this is why people stop being interested in new things. i had put my trust in a thing i thought was awesome and that trust has been broken.

this year has seen two deaths in favorite tools of mine. first sunrise, my favorite calendar app, was slowly but brutally dismembered by microsoft. now simple seems to be on the same pathway. with sunrise, they spent lots of time assuring us (the user base) that things were going to stay just as awesome as ever. within months, they announced that weren’t going to be doing updates but the service would still be usable. within another few months, they were explaining how the service would be discontinued and “embedded” into microsoft. i’m guessing simple is going to follow a similar, if not identical pathway.

i just wish that the goal of starting something new wasn’t to sell it off for big money. this is how capitalism and greed seem to ruin everything. maybe the team that started simple wasn’t interested in selling eventually. maybe they were. if they weren’t, maybe the people who joined the company over time as it grew were slowly shifting it towards the capitalistic center-of-gravity of the business world. the end result looks like it’ll be the same: slow downgrading of services/features to the malaise that marks the old guard’s tools and then eventual destruction.

and the destruction is a positive feedback loop trigger by the sale itself. i can already see it happen so i’m pulling my money out. and i will certainly stop recommending it as a good tool to start using. now it offers mediocre tools and basic functionality that other people do much better.

as simple, which marketed itself towards people outside of the banking mainstream (in simple & sunrise cases, the tech-millenial crowd) becomes increasingly mainstream, the early adopters move on. this will leave simple’s new corporate parents with a simple financially-measured decision. is this part of our company worth the cost it requires to keep operating? eventually the answer will be no and they will pull the plug (again, i’m guessing here).

to be clear, i’m pretty angry at the loss of my data and sad about the startup world. there has got to be a new normal. if new things just continue to get absorbed into the old power structures, we’re never gonna get out of this thing alive.

ps - i get that this is tiny little problem in the scheme of people being oppressed. but if the tech community bills itself as solving problems and yet is continually absorbed by the world that created those problems, it’s actually all a farce. that’s why this is interesting to me.

update (15 jan 2017)

since writing this post, i've heard of two more sellouts and the resultant feature downgrades/shitifications.

  1. first, trello's sell to atlassian. as my buddy, benji, pointed out, this sell doesn't look so bad if you only look at the trello post about it. but once you look at the atlassian post about the acquisition, it's glaringly obvious that they're going to turn it into a "work" tool.
  2. second, whatsapp. whatsapp apparently sold to facebook a while ago and now is when the badness is starting to come in. case in point: whatsapp messages, which used be secure and have end-to-end encryption messages, have now been found to be readable by facebook. in short, this now means that were the government to subpoena facebook, facebook would have to (and now be able to) turn over any whatsapp messages. poop. poop. poop.

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