Retail

It’s Karma: Once struggling startup unlocks fintech riches


By Tom Metcalf and Julie Verhage

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 Monday it’s buying Credit Karma for about $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 $1 billion in 2019, according to a company statement.

Lin, 44, who owns at least 15% of the San Francisco-based company, is poised for a ten-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 Lin, who as a child immigrated to the U.S. 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 Lin’s net worth.

Others getting 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 lackluster 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 $1.5 billion after completing the $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 $5.3 billion in January.





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply