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Intuit to acquire email marketer Mailchimp for $12bn

In deal aimed at ‘improving the success rate for small businesses’.
Image: Bloomberg

Intuit, the maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks software, agreed to buy privately held email marketing firm Mailchimp for $12 billion in cash and stock, uniting two providers of services for small businesses.

The deal, announced in a statement Monday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report, will bolster Intuit’s offerings for businesses looking for ways to reach and serve customers online. Intuit has offered QuickBooks accounting software to clients for decades, supplementing it with services such as Credit Karma, which it acquired last year.

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By adding Mailchimp, Intuit is looking to build on a small-business recovery that has helped fuel sales of QuickBooks and other products. With customers getting operations back on track after Covid-19 disruptions — and many digitizing their books for the first time — Intuit has been able to capitalise. Mailchimp is focused on digital marketing services, including social advertising, so-called shoppable links and automation products.

The deal is aimed at “improving the success rate for small businesses,” Intuit chief executive officer Sasan Goodarzi said in an interview, adding that there will be a lot of synergies between Mailchimp and Intuit’s core customers. Mailchimp will integrate with QuickBooks and help clients figure out how to better target their customers, he said.

The planned transaction marks Intuit’s largest deal to date, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mountain View, California-based Intuit paid $7.1 billion last year for Credit Karma, a personal finance website.

Intuit was able to win in the competitive process of buying Mailchimp thanks to Intuit co-founder Scott Cook’s close relationship with the Mailchimp founders, Goodarzi said. While most of Mailchimp’s employees didn’t have equity in the startup, they will be compensated with Intuit equity going forward, he said.

“We believe every employee should be a stockholder,” Goodarzi said.

Intuit was founded in 1983 by Cook and Tom Proulx and went public a decade later. Its TurboTax product has become synonymous with online tax filing, but small-business services account for a larger part of Intuit’s business — and don’t suffer the same seasonal swings.

Atlanta-based Mailchimp traces its origins to a web design agency called the Rocket Science Group, which was founded in 2001 by Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius. In January, Mailchimp acquired SMS marketing platform Chatitive Inc., which allows two-way personalized communication between businesses and their customers.

Intuit expects to expand the workforce in Mailchimp’s home town. “We’re very excited about Atlanta,” said Goodarzi, noting that it’s a good location to attract diverse talent. Intuit also expects to continue Mailchimp’s run as a mainstay of podcast advertising — something it’s long been known for — and whatever else has made the startup successful, Goodarzi said.

“We’re only going to pour more fuel on the fire,” he said.

The deal represents a windfall for Chestnut and Kurzius. Mailchimp has no outside funding or venture capital backing, according to data provider PitchBook.

The acquisition is expected to close before the end of Intuit’s fiscal second quarter of 2022, and to add to adjusted earnings per share for the full fiscal year, which ends in July. The deal is evenly split between cash and stock, according to Goodarzi, and the company said it plans to finance the cash portion of the deal through cash on hand and new debt of approximately $4.5 billion to $5 billion.

Intuit shares fell 1.8% to $557.42 in New York before the announcement. The stock has gained 47% this year, giving the company a market value of $152.2 billion.

Morgan Stanley & Co acted as financial adviser to Intuit on the deal, while Latham & Watkins is its legal adviser. Mailchimp was advised by Qatalyst Partners and King & Spalding.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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