Posted by: Sarah Lacy on October 28, 2005
Bruce Richardson, AMR’s chief research officer, bemoaned to me at breakfast a few weeks ago that he could write alerts about cool startups all day long, but no one would care. But an alert on what SAP CEO Henning Kagermann had for lunch? Now that sells! So he had to enjoy tossing Silicon Valley startup Rearden Commerce into the research note he just published on “The Google Economy.” And no doubt the bombastic Rearden CEO Patrick Grady loved it as well.
When you meet Grady you love him or hate him. You think he's full of it or a visionary. He makes you laugh or you wonder if he'll ever stop talking. If you don't believe me, just read the opening anecdote of this story I wrote on the company. Classic Grady.
Or, if you're like me, he grows on you. If I'm remembering right, Richardson said the same thing when we last talked.
But no matter what you think about him, you have to be impressed at what he has spent five years and several million of his own money building. Here's an excerpt from Richardson's note:
"Rearden provides a one-stop shop for a range of requests, including travel, dining, transportation, entertainment, shipping, courier service, and conferencing. Think Travelocity, OpenTable, Ticketmaster, Boston Coach, UPS, Kinko’s, and hundreds of other sites all in a single software system....Rearden’s network includes 130,536 suppliers, including 80,000 hotels, 50,000 restaurants, and 530 airlines.
"Here’s my scenario: You want to book a trip to Boston? You got to the new Google Concierge Website (based on Rearden), evaluate your flight and hotel options, arrange for a rental car or a limo, and review a host of dinner or entertainment options. I’m sure you can easily envision the transaction fees and advertising opportunities.
"Can't Google developers build their own Rearden? Of course. But, should they? Rearden has spent five years developing its software and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and signing up suppliers. I talked to one Rearden customer who raves about the product. He describes the software as a “game changer.” In his view, “this thing is going to define a huge new category and is the best real example of pure SOA and Web services my architects have ever seen. It is also the best real example of broad software as a service I have ever seen.'"
By the way, I know who he's describing there-- and it's a big company. Will Google buy Rearden? Unlikely. There are much more pressing issues on the horizon for Google. And I hope they don't. I want to see what Rearden becomes on its own. It's a big vision with an uncertain outcome. But it's an interesting picture Richardson paints nonetheless.