First of all, let me respond to questions about the previous posting. I am not a PC. That said, I’m not really a Mac either. This is not some condescending piece on how I am above being just some “label”—which I am not at all; I like to be defined by one or two words—rather, I am simply not a Mac or PC. As polemic as the world is, we need not be defined by just those measures being the either-or (as noted by my Linux-loving workspace neighbor Steven).
The posting was about the “I’m a PC” ads. That’s it.
As I have written before, there is a co-worker here that describes himself as our Chief Awesome Officer. I don’t necessarily think that it is because he is awesome (strictly speaking), but rather having a Chief Awesome Officer would be pretty neat, and being that he came up with the concept, he gets the name.
I, on the other hand, would like to go by Batman.
As our CAO was leaving today, he gave me some homework to do tonight. I am not usually inclined to listen to him too much as he is an older brother that has not managed to really keep his brothers under his thumb as he’d like, so he tries to pull in others as a sort of proxy. That said, this one intrigued me a little, so here I am fulfilling it.
It was a simple question to be answered: what makes us (Zions Direct—specifically the auctions) remarkable.
Remarkable is a very simple concept, it means that something is worth talking about (you are able to remark). That means two things:
- Something about the subject matter is uncommonly interesting—not necessarily ultra-rare or amazingly ingenious, but noteworthy enough that you wish to share it, rather than just note it.
- The subject matter is easy-to-share. For example, the fact that Stephen Hawking has bet against the discovery of the Higgs boson in the Large Hadron Collider is certainly newsworthy, but pretty hard to share.
Now, the purpose of this exercise is more than just academic. If I rode a horse through the nearby State Capitol, that would be remarkable: uncommon and interesting to some + easily shared. But that doesn’t do much for me besides getting some attention.
So with Zions Direct Auctions; the focus here is on what makes this approach remarkable in a way that benefits user and provider.
The fact that we use auctions is not necessarily interesting. It is a process for selling CDs and other securities. Not really something that most people are bursting to let out. If that was all we did, it would simply be an unusual way to deposit money.
Also, selling CDs and other securities isn’t too remarkable. It’s just what financial institutions do. It’s like a fast food restaurant advertising they offer fast food.
But something does make us different. It’s what excites me about the business. It’s what makes me spill out my visions of disruption and innovation. It’s what makes this the focus of the future, as long as we can make sure we ease the process of access.
It’s about democratization.
That’s it. Unlike other financial sites and organizations, consumers are given access and power in ways they have never before been able to experience. It starts with FDIC-insured certificates of deposit. This is the most vanilla of securities, but pretty simple to understand. Customers come in, they bid, and they win or they lose—that’s how auctions work—but it is their collective decision that sets the price; it’s not us.
It’s not so much the how (the auction), but the purpose behind it. Instead of “auctioning” off rates that banks determine you should get, we actually leave it open. You decide. You want a higher yield, bid it. If that’s where the price should go, then that’s where it should go.
And then there are Senior Notes and Preferred Stock that we been offering. These are direct-to-consumer offerings sold in such a way that every self-directed investor can come in to help set the price as they bid to win. And this is without brokerage fees or middlemen taking cuts.
For years, the real power in the financial community had been in the deals that powerful institutions could take and slowly filter down until it eventually reached the common man in manner diluted by the profits taken by the handling organizations.
We disrupt that—we give that power to the everyman.
Sure we offer securities—lot’s of people do that. But we have actually given ordinary people greater power to influence and access to choice than any have ever before. That’s worth talking about.
You may see that I like Zions Direct Auctions. I also work in marketing on that product, which means I may be a bit biased (but it also means I do something that I believe in).