Like Plaid, but for ...
4 min read

Like Plaid, but for ...

Plaid is so popular for open banking, it's no surprise there's a half-dozen or so similar companies in other industries. Here's a quick breakdown.
Like Plaid, but for ...

Plaid has been quite disruptive. Not in the Clay Christensen classical sense, just in the making people at the banks unhappy sense.

What's amazing his how much opportunity Plaid has, and how highly they're valued. When Visa couldn't acquire Plaid, they just raised a shit-ton more money to keep at it. Visa was offering $5.3B. Plaid raised at a $13.4B valuation just three months after the acquisition was called off.

It's not just retail banking though that has the challenges that lead to Plaid's creation. Most every industry has similar challenges. Customer data is locked at a vendor. As a result, that data isn't usable in the way that the customer would like. So, it makes sense that other industries have their own "Plaids".

HR and Payroll

TryFinch is Plaid for HR and Payroll. I particularly like their "for developers by developers" tag. They're just getting started having launched in December 2020 with $3.5M in funding. The post announcing their launch does a nice job explaining their "why".

Health Insurance

Noyo is Plaid for Health Insurance. Their site and messaging isn't as clear as Finch's, but they've nailed some really important questions about compliance right on their front page. Here's a good overview on their "why", though I seriously wish they'd get a bigger font across their site.

Health, Fitness, and Wellness

Terra is Plaid for health, fitness, and wellness. Launching out of Y Combinator in 2020, they're two people and just getting started. Good luck, could be a very fun space and is certainly very important. They don't have any marketing materials, but definitely check out their API and get started.

Hospitality

Impala is Plaid for hotels. Or something. It's not as clear as the others, though I wonder if they're hotel industry insiders because of their tag line: "[...] allows hotels to [...] without having to pay integration fees or police rate parity". That sounds like an ROI around process, not a company that thinks they can open up a world of innovation by cracking open proprietary data silos (like the three companiens above). Their site doesn't have as clear messaging as the others, but is certainly much nicer than Noyo's (though, not as nice as Finch). Considering how new they are (they launched their hotel booking API just under a month ago on March 23rd, 2021), they look quite nice though. They even have a post explaining their "why". By the way, since I wasn't positive on the clarity of their messaging, I will say, they are very clear that their API is super easy to use and book rooms. In fact, here's their six-minute how-to video to see it in action:

Travel

Duffle is Plaid for flights. They launched their "self-service" capability in January of this year, so they're pretty new too, at least from the perspective of onboarding developers. Their "why" is a little harder to suss out of their marketing, but it appears that they think travel is changing and they'll be able to meet those changes. I get it, I sorta agree. But should be easier to tell a story. Plus, I always get turned off when I can't find anything about the company itself on the site. Who's their CEO? Leadership? They have really good diversity transparency (accurate as of September 3, 2020) and it's worth seeing how it's presented on their site. I believe every company should do this.

E-Commerce

Rutter is Plaid for e-commerce. Again, the tag line: "for developers by developers". Love it. This could be interesting, because I think so much of e-commerce is a mess. By that I mean, it's inconsistent from site-to-site, and even from purchase to purchase. I'm curious what they have in mind (they don't have a blog on their site; you would want one for SEO if for nothing else... but 🤷🏻‍♀️).

Smart Home

Yonomi is Plaid for smart home. Now we're in the weeds, and I'm thinking it's going to be hard to create a ton of value here. I'm not saying it's not interesting, or useful. It's just a hard space. Plus, they appear to be an "integration platform" not an "API"... and that scares me. Big dreams, in a complex space, that's hard to monetize? I read that story before. That said, they're part of a big company, with a huge team of 25 (relative to the above companies), and they are likely to be used inside Allegion to solve probelms that Allegion has. Again, I have seen this before, in this space. So, time will tell.

Ethereum Data / DeFI

The Graph is an indexing protocol for Ethereum data. I wanted to include this, becuase there's so much going on in this space and it's incredible how hard it is to get data about what's happening in DeFi. Here's the intro, read it if you're curious about the future.

Platforms of Unified APIs & SDKs

For all the industries and solution areas not covered above there's API Deck and Paragon. Another book I've read a few times. I'm super curious to see how this plays out, but I'd be shocked if it's in the way these companies think it will.

This is a hard problem, and even if they can solve it, how will they scale the solution? Meaning, how will they keep up with all the latest versions of all the latest APIs of the APIs they're abstracting?

They've moved higher in the stack from when we used to do this (at TIBCO, Progress, Actional, Software AG, CA, and Axway) but it's not a winning game. That said, MuleSoft was acquired by Salesforce for a lot of money. While I don't think it's playing out as anyone thought at first, there are a lot of winners there (including Salesforce/MuleSoft customers, which is really what matters). However, I'd like to see the way software gets created at large companies be disrupted and transformed, and I don't think this is the way.

In Conclusion

The energy and innovation going on here is really fun. Across the board, we're seeing integration happen in new ways to solve some really systemic problems with software development (and a resulting inability to focus on experience).

I believe that the trend towards low-code/no-code will make the companies above really valuable in the software dev supply chain.

There's so much opportunity, it's an incredibly exciting time.

I just wish I were technical enough to dig in a little - especially with Noyo and Duffel. There's a lot of opportunity in those spaces to get creative with experiences.

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