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TurboTax maker Intuit is buying personal finance site Credit Karma

TurboTax software
Intuit sells TurboTax, which people use to prepare and file tax returns. Credit Karma began offering a free tax-filing platform a few years ago.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Intuit Inc., the software giant behind TurboTax, announced Monday that it is buying personal finance website Credit Karma Inc. for about $7.1 billion in cash and stock.

San Francisco-based Credit Karma has garnered more than 100 million users by offering free credit scores since it was founded in 2007. The financial technology start-up offers other services too, including the ability to apply for a credit card, find an auto loan or start a savings account.

Fintech companies are at a crossroads: A number of them are established enough to go public, but a spate of poor-performing initial public offerings are making acquisitions more attractive. At the same time, incumbent companies aren’t afraid to snap up start-ups as a way to fuel their own growth.

“The fertile [mergers-and-acquisitions] market, shift to growth-stage investments, and rich valuations open the door for a lot of discussions, as well as distractions,” said Lindsay Davis, an analyst at CB Insights. “Fintech start-ups will have a choice to take a deal or buckle down and focus on filling product gaps.”

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Credit Karma launched a free tax-filing platform a few years ago and has been trying to poach customers of Intuit’s TurboTax offering.

There have been additional small changes to tax laws that will keep taxpayers and preparers on their toes.

More than 30 million users log into Credit Karma every week, the company has said. These users don’t pay the company for any of its services, and Credit Karma makes money through an affiliate fee it receives when someone successfully applies for a loan or credit card on its platform. Credit Karma generated almost $1 billion in unaudited revenue last year, up 20% from 2018, Intuit said.

Intuit, based in Mountain View, Calif., said the combined company will help consumers manage debt, maximize savings and have better access to credit cards and loans.

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Also on Monday, Intuit reported results for its fiscal second quarter, which ended Jan. 31. Its revenue in the quarter rose 13% to $1.7 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of $1.68 billion. Net income rose 27% to $240 million, or 91 cents a share. The company reiterated its fiscal 2020 outlook for revenue of $7.44 billion to $7.54 billion.

The transaction is expected to be neutral or add to Intuit’s adjusted earnings per share in the first full fiscal year after the transaction closes, the company said.

The deal is only the latest in a slew of acquisitions in the industry. Morgan Stanley recently announced plans to buy ETrade Financial Corp. for $13 billion. Visa Inc. agreed in January to acquire Plaid for $5.3 billion.

Late last year, PayPal Holdings Inc. snapped up online coupon company Honey Science Corp. for $4 billion. Charles Schwab Corp. is acquiring TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. for $26 billion.

QED Investors, Ribbit Capital and Founders Fund were early backers of Credit Karma.


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