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Credit Karma founder to get billion-dollar windfall from sale

Credit Karma founder to get billion-dollar windfall from sale

3 -min read
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3 -min read
Listen to this article

[LONDON] Ken Lin co-founded Credit Karma Inc in 2007 after struggling to find out his own credit score. That's something he probably won't need in the future.

Intuit Inc - the software giant behind TurboTax - said on Monday it's buying Credit Karma for about US$7.1 billion in cash and stock. The firm, which offers free credit scores and help applying for cards and loans, has more than 100 million members and reported unaudited revenue of nearly US$1 billion in 2019, according to a company statement.

Mr Lin, 44, who owns at least 15 per cent of the San Francisco-based company, is poised for a 10-figure windfall, according to calculations by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the latest fintech founder to strike gold in recent months as more established firms snap up upstarts.

It caps a remarkable rise for Mr Lin, who as a child immigrated to the US from China with his parents and was the first of his family to graduate from college. The founder is far from the stereotypical staid financial planner. Described as an adrenaline junkie, he once took his company's board on dune buggy rides in Las Vegas and is known for hitting the dance floor at his firm's holiday parties.

Credit Karma declined to comment on Mr Lin's net worth.

Others geting windfalls include co-founders Nichole Mustard, 47, and Ryan Graciano, 38, as well as firms such as Silver Lake, Ribbit Capital and QED Investors, a Virginia-based outfit that led the first investment round.

The startup's hefty price tag contrasts with its early days.

It initially struggled to raise funding from venture capitalists and its first office was an apartment located by a San Francisco overpass and above Kate O'Brien's Irish Bar & Grill. The company has since moved to fancier digs near Union Square whose amenities include a nail salon.

While Silicon Valley has witnessed plenty of lacklustre public offerings recently, there's still demand for financial tech companies from larger rivals.

George Ruan and Ryan Hudson, the co-founders of Honey Science Corp pulled in US$1.5 billion after completing the US$4 billion sale of their firm to PayPal Holdings Inc. Plaid Inc co-founders Zach Perret and William Hockey will collect hundreds of millions of dollars each after selling their company to payments giant Visa Inc for US$5.3 billion in January.

Intuit's share price rose 2.5 per cent to US$293.60 at 10.13am in New York on Tuesday.

BLOOMBERG