"It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking-glass" (1871)
Few people these days remember Alta Vista or Excite, the Googles of the 90s. In 1999, the latter turned down an offer to buy a young startup called Google
for... US$1m. The rest is history, but history tends to repeat itself.
The average life expectancy of a multinational Fortune 500 corporation or its equivalent is between 40 and 50 years. Most readers can recall a few "empire" names that disappeared recently or are
heading that way, Kodak being one of the most recent examples. Empires were not built in a day (the modern ones are, sometimes, an exception - 75% of Apple's
revenue comes from the products that didn't exist five years ago), and they do not always crumble down fast either.
One of the signs of a potential downfall is complacency that results in either "not invented here" syndrome or "we can do it ourselves" arrogance, or both. Recently, Bango announced two
important partnerships - with Amazon and Facebook.
Could either of those two market leaders develop "Bango technology" in-house? Perhaps. Is it part of their core business? No. To reach the goal faster, why re-invent the bicycle instead of riding one.
Bango has been around since 1999. The company is not a household name, yet over the years they developed and perfected their premium technology, "in close partnership with brands, publishers, device manufacturers, browser developers and operators at the
forefront of mobile innovation around the world." That is hard to replicate by throwing money at it. Bango deserves credit for its vision, persistence and effort.
Over the past few weeks I have spoken to or met with a number of payment industry leaders. Although I wouldn't place any "life expectancy" bets, it is not hard to see the difference in culture and mentality - riding the bicycle vs re-inventing one.