Yesterday, we reported that popular personal finance site Mint.com would be sold to Intuit for $170 million, just a few weeks after Founder and CEO Aaron Patzer closed a fresh $14 million round of "preemptive" funding. "We could have continued on independently, for sure," Patzer says. "But I was interested in the number of users we could get our innovations out to." (Patzer, below, courtesy Mint.com.)
Intuit has a total user reach of upwards of 36 million people between all its online and desktop products, while Mint boasts only about 1.4 million users online. Marketshare, however, wasn't the only impetus; Patzer says that Intuit's back-end will give Mint a lot of power it didn't have before. "Mint right now is pretty much a read-only system, which means it'll tell you when your credit card is due, but it won't let you pay the credit card off," he says. "Intuit has all those facilities: bill pay, funds transfer, integration with taxes."
The agreement came after four months of consideration; Intuit President and CEO Brad Smith approached Patzer in May, and they finally came to terms in the last 30 days. "You might be able to tell I sound a little sick," Patzer says. "Basically the diligence process, the whole deal process, took the last three weeks solid. It really came together last Friday." The cause of the cold? "Exhaustion," he chuckles.
Though Patzer won't discuss profitability, he says that revenue has been "way up" this year and that Mint could have kept innovating. But the Intuit deal will allow him to lead the company's entire personal finance division—Quicken online, desktop, and now Mint. "For people who think that Quicken desktop has languished over the past five to seven years—and I think it has—expect that to improve," he says. (Below, Mint's Web 2.0 feel has attracted many younger users.)
Patzer is quick to note that though he and Smith have reached terms, the deal is still subject to regulatory approval. That should come within the next few months, he says. "We can't operationally start any changes until that happens. But after that the plan will be to do an integration immediately with TurboTax" Then if you have all your information in Mint—your trades, your income, medical expenses, business reimbursement expenses—you'll be able to import those directly into TurboTax.
Patzer says the deal is unexpected, but promising. "I hadn't thought much about an exit strategy," he says. "When Brad asked me if I was open to selling the company, I took a pause. Our focus has just been to build a good product." In keeping with that priority, he says, Mint will remain free to all users.