With the acquisition of Web TV in conjunction with proposed digital TV-Windows interoperability standards, a lot of people are asking, "Where does Bill want to go today?" The answer seems to be that Microsoft is on the road to becoming a major television-Web content provider with a particular proficiency in the financial services industry. Microsoft fervently denies any claims that it's attempting to disintermediate consumers from their bank relationships, with Lewis Levine, Microsoft's vp of desktop finance, saying that vehicles such as Investor are like "street corners" where banks connect because "the traffic is so good."
Not everybody agrees. Meca CEO Paul Harrison suggests that Microsoft is getting between banks and their customers by creating a "mall" environment where consumers can easily jump from one institution to another. To this Levine replies, "It's convenient for him to say that because he's owned by banks, and painting us in a negative light is useful in terms of what he's trying to accomplish. He's a private label bank supplier."