Startup organises your Web life

Yodlee's technology allows consumers to see data from multiple online accounts at a central site.

A Sunnyvale, California startup launched a service Tuesday that allows consumers to aggregate everything from bank accounts to email on one central Web site.

Yodlee.com's founders, who include a professor from the University of California at San Diego and two former Microsoft engineers, are hoping that they will be able to attract consumers with the convenience of centralising all of their online work on one site.

The Yodlee team has analysed Web sites in 13 different categories to figure out exactly how they accept and transmit data. The company can then stream the data off of those sites and present it to the consumer in one place.

For example, a user could see all of their Hotmail messages, Amazon.com account updates, and Monster.com job searches on one home page. The data is presented to the user as a link -- to actually view it, the site uses the password and ID that the users has set up with the external Web site to automatically log them in and grab the data. That way, once the users as set up the account on Yodlee, they only have to log into the Yodlee page. "It's a way to manage your life online. You can get one click access to all your accounts in one place," said Sukhinder Singh, vice president of business development.

The idea of consolidating different accounts in one place is appealing, so it's no surprise that other companies, including EZLogin and VerticalOne, have made similar attempts. And there are numerous applications to help consumers manage their passwords, but most of those sit on the users computers, not at a central server, which allows the user to access their data from multiple locations.

Yodlee's biggest challenge may not be competitors, but instead convincing consumers to try out a somewhat new idea, said David Card, analyst at Jupiter Communications in New York. In a recent survey Jupiter conducted, consumers were asked whether they would rather fill out forms themselves online or have the forms filled out automatically by an application on their computer or by a site they were comfortable with. Fifty percent said they would rather fill out the forms themselves.

"Clearly there's a barrier, which I suspect is privacy and trust related," Card said. "Apparently, there's serious concern from consumers and already some resistance in terms of selling these. Is this an interesting idea and one consumers might be interested in? The answer is yes to both, but there's some education involved."

The idea would likely appeal to others beyond Yodlee. VerticalOne, which was acquired by Security First Friday, had been selling its technology to others as a way to make sites "sticky", by keeping consumers there for longer periods of time.

Yodlee said it would work in partnerships with outside sites, allowing co-branded versions of its technology to be used, but would continue to develop the site as a standalone resource.

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