March 25, 2023

Bucks Blog: Nordstrom Opens Its Cards to Mint and Others

Holders of Nordstrom’s store credit card can once again monitor their accounts using, the online money management site.

Late last year, Nordstrom angered some cardholders by terminating access to their accounts from Mint, which allows users to track multiple financial accounts, including bank and credit card accounts, in one place. Users register at Mint and enter account information and passwords, so the program can obtain the information electronically and aggregate it. ( was acquired by the financial software company Intuit in 2009.)

At the time it terminated access, Nordstrom told customers it was exploring “a variety of options” for online financial management services. The store’s cards are issued by its own Nordstrom bank.

Last week, Nordstrom notified customers that it had reinstated access to its accounts for Mint as well as Quicken, also owned by Intuit, and the bill payment app Pageonce, a Nordstrom spokeswoman, Tara Darrow, said in an e-mail.

“When we made the decision back in November, we heard from customers that they really value these services,” she said. “While our decision may have made sense from a business perspective, we missed the mark on meeting their needs.”

She said Nordstrom customers would have the same experience they had before the service interruption.

There is still no change, however, in access by to store cards issued by GE Capital’s retail bank, including, Brooks Brothers and Gap. A GE Capital spokeswoman previously cited security concerns. “We are continuing to work together with Mint to resolve with the goal of making this accessible for cardholders,” Dori Abel, the spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Mint, which has about 10 million users, says it uses bank-level security. Also, users can only view and sort information about their accounts. They can’t move money in or out of accounts via Mint.

Have you encountered problems accessing your account information by Mint or other online sites?

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DealBook: Dell Acquires Quest, a Big Software Maker, for $2.4 Billion

A Dell computer factory in Sriperumbudur Taluk, India.Babu/ReutersA Dell computer factory in Sriperumbudur Taluk, India.

For Dell, the future is data.

The company, best known for selling affordable personal computers, announced on Monday a $2.4 billion purchase of Quest Software. The deal will form the backbone of Dell’s software business and push it deeper into the higher-margin enterprise market.

Quest is an uncharacteristically large acquisition for Dell, which has done only one other multibillion-dollar deal in its history. But Quest is the latest in a string of enterprise deals for Dell. Since February, the computer maker has announced six transactions, including SonicWall, a network security business and AppAssure, a security software maker.

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“The addition of Quest will enable Dell to deliver more competitive server, storage, networking and end user computing solutions and services to customers,” John A. Swainson, president of Dell’s software group, said in a statement.

Dell’s shopping spree hinges on the thesis that the ballooning amount of data being generated by businesses and the Web is presenting new challenges for companies, which need to store, manage and protect more and more content.

Founded in 1987, Quest is one of the larger players in this arena, with about $857 million in annual sales. It sells a broad range of solutions, such as software to manage databases, protect information and simplify access to data. According to Mr. Swainson, Dell was particularly attracted to Quest’s application monitoring software and its identity access software, which allows users to access multiple password-protected accounts with a single login.

“This is the right move for Dell,” said Peter Misek, an analyst with Jeffries Company, said. “With Quest, Dell can provide a bundled offering for software applications in a very seamless way.”

With the acquisition of a management software company, Dell is trying to position itself as a vendor for businesses that are trying to build and manage their own data centers, whether on site or in the cloud.

In a bid to become an end-to-end solutions company, Dell also aggressively sells servers and networking products to small- and medium-size businesses.

The enterprise campaign is an important one for this company in transition, which is still heavily dependent on its low-margin personal computing business. In the first quarter, Dell’s profits fell 33 percent to $635 million. The soft spot, once again, was Dell’s PC business, with mobile and desktop computer sales down about 6 percent in the quarter from a year ago. For Dell, based in Round Rock, Tex., the Quest acquisition did not come easy.

The company sparred for weeks with a competing investor group led by Insight Venture Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm, which originally offered $23 a share for Quest in March.

At $28 a share, Dell’s offer is 22 percent higher than Insight’s starting bid — and 33 percent higher than the average daily price of Quest’s stock in February. Still, analysts say the company could wring out more value from Quest, based on possible cuts to its sales force and accounting departments.

“At $28, it’s a pretty cheap valuation for Quest,” said Rob D. Owens, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “It has room to grow.”

Quentin Hardy contributed to this post.

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Lady Gaga Sale Stalls Amazon Servers

“Born This Way” (Interscope), her new album, arrived with a blitz of marketing, and Amazon surprised the singer’s fans by offering a one-day sale of the MP3 version of the album for 99 cents, a full $11 less than its price at iTunes, the Web’s dominant music retailer.

The discount was widely seen as a way for Amazon to promote its new Cloud Drive service, which allows users to store music files on remote servers and stream them over the Internet to their computer or smartphone. But Amazon may have underestimated the zeal (or thrift) of Lady Gaga’s fans. By early afternoon the company’s servers stalled, and many users were unable to download or listen to the album in full. Frustrated customers quickly took to Twitter and to Amazon’s user review page for “Born This Way.”

“Very disappointed,” a customer wrote in a one-star review of the album. “I guess next time I will pay full price and get the album immediately on iTunes.”

Amazon’s only public comment on the matter was a Twitter message, sent about 1:15 p.m. Eastern time: “We’re currently experiencing very high volume. If you order today, you will get the full @ladygaga album for $.99. Thanks for your patience.”

Most music companies see cloud services — which promise that all your music will be available on all your devices at any time — as the next frontier for the industry. And for the retailers and technology companies that will operate them, such services have become in important battleground. Google unveiled its own cloud service, Music Beta, this month, and Apple was said to be close to introducing its own.

Amazon offers customers five free gigabytes of space on its Cloud Service and increases it to 20 gigabytes for customers who buy an album.

“What Amazon is trying to do is build up as much share as possible before Apple comes in,” said Russ Crupnick, an analyst with NPD Group, a market research firm.

Some analysts and music executives said the problem could affect confidence in an unfamiliar technology. Last month a variety of Web sites, from start-ups like to The New York Times, were affected by a failure on servers that Amazon rents for cloud computing.

“It’s perhaps not a fatal flaw that this happened, but it certainly creates a challenge for them,” said Matthew Eastwood, an analyst at IDC, a firm that researches technology. “There is not a lot of forgiveness for things like this in the market. People will tend to move on and find other suppliers.”

Amazon introduced its MP3 store in 2007, but it has struggled to compete with iTunes. Late last year the NPD Group estimated that iTunes’s share of the digital download market was 66.2 percent and Amazon’s was 13.3 percent.

Amazon often sells albums through one-day promotions for $4 or $5. Music executives have said that Amazon usually accepts the loss if it sells an album for less than the wholesale price charged by the labels, which is typically around $7 an album but may be more for a priority release. Amazon declined to comment beyond its Twitter message, and a representative of Lady Gaga’s record label, Interscope, did not respond to e-mails requesting comment.

Other industry observers questioned whether Amazon’s error with Lady Gaga downloads would have a lasting effect on such a popular store.

“People are having a headache for one dollar,” said Tamara Conniff, a former editor of Billboard who is the founder of, a music news and opinion site. “They’d be willing to try it again for another dollar. Full price is another story.”

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