If you do, get out of the way.
Grady says booking tools and apps, for that matter, come and go, but integrated platforms — like the Rearden Personal Assistant, in Grady’s view — have staying power.
Standalone travel booking tools and apps are a “path to irrelevance,” Grady claims.
While the finance guys at Barry Diller’s IAC and even the geeks at Microsoft often have failed to blend assorted apps and Web properties, Grady believes the Rearden Personal Assistant is an almost perfect storm of mashed-up apps, Web services and XML, giving road warriors an identical user interface and experience regardless if they are booking a trip, making a dining reservation, shipping a package, dragging and dropping a receipt into an expense report, or ordering tickets for the Lakers-Celtics finals.
If a customer merely wants a booking tool, then look elsewhere, Grady huffs.
But, if a company wants an all-encompassing, location-based platform that understands “the context of your day,” the Rearden Personal Assistant may be the right tool — woops, I mean platform — Grady says.
With $220 million in financing from the likes of American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Foundation Capital, Oak Investment Partners, Palo Alto Investors and Empire Capital Partners as ammo, there may be something to Grady’s argument.
Grady says he became “obsessed” with the idea of mashups — what he called a meta-application at the time — in the mid-1990s, well before terms like Web 2.0 or mashups were dreamed up, and he and his colleagues began to put it all into practice when Rearden Commerce began operations in 2000.
Today, the Rearden Commerce Platform handles 160,000 suppliers — including app developers, merchants and other content providers — and the product is used by 6,500 corporate clients and their 3 million employees.
Rearden also has expanded beyond its initial business-to-business thrust and into the consumer realm. For example, Rearden powers redemption for Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Grady argues that Rearden’s path to relevance started with an agnostic approach to technologies and services, the freedom of having “no business model” in its early days, the company’s ability to recruit top technology personnel, and betting everything on Web services and XML.
Citing his Irish New York roots, Grady says a bit of luck may have been involved, as well.
Nothing it seems is dearer to Grady’s business heart than talking about the ability of the Rearden platform to swap in applications and vendors in a manner that doesn’t cause a ripple in the consistent user experience.
In that regard, Todd Kaiser, Rearden’s head of products, notes that the Rearden Personal Assistant uses ITA Software for flight search, but would have the ability in theory to substitute smoothly another vendor out of economic or functionality concerns if ITA one day lost its status as best in class.
In the same vein, the Rearden Personal Assistant uses Google Maps and Rearden is currently evaluating whether to switch to Bing Maps, Kaiser says. From a technology perspective, substituting ¬†Bing for Google would be no big deal, Kaiser adds.
Small potatoes and just another day in the life at the Rearden Commerce platform mashup.