A Financial Software Dynasty (INTU)
Intuit’s Ability to Adapt and Expand Is Unique and Makes It a Worthy Investment
The idea for Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) began with Scott Cook. After proving his capacity to start successful businesses as a college undergraduate, Scott Cook became one of the youngest members of his class at the Harvard School of Business.
His second job out of B-school was with Bain and Co. in Northern California. One night while doing his bills at his kitchen table with his wife, he noted that doing bills was a serious hassle. Apparently, this gave him the idea that computer automation might make it a lot easier.
In 1983, that certainly was a novel idea. While looking for a good coder to help him develop this idea into a business, he met Tom Proulx at Stanford University. Tom bought into the idea and started working on it in his dorm room. He coded-up what would eventually become personal accounting software package Quicken. They founded Intuit that same year.
Tom Proulx (left) and Scott Cook (right) in the early days of Intuit. (Source: pinterest)
The Quicken code was mature enough by 1984 to begin sales to the general public. Sales of the novel software was slow going for many years. Even with the company operating out of Tom’s basement and having only 7 employees, it flirted with bankruptcy many times.
Most sales channels couldn’t see the potential in Scott’s vision. However, persistence paid off and eventual sales picked up. Many credit Intuit’s success at this stage with Scott’s obsession with customer satisfaction and willingness to incorporate customers’ feedback to improve its products.
By 1991, Intuit’s revenue hit $55 million per year. It began introducing completely new software packages and even began acquiring other companies. In 1992, it published QuickBooks which enabled small companies to automate their payroll processing.
Perhaps its most important acquisition came in 1993 when it purchased Chipsoft from Michael Chipman in San Diego. Chipsoft was the predecessor of today’s TurboTax software, and this software became the company’s bread and butter product.
In the years to come, Intuit made many other acquisitions that enabled the company to realize its vision of a single software or web platform that enabled users to take care of all their financial needs from one place. This included enabling customers to not only do bookkeeping and pay their taxes from an Intuit product, but also to pay their credit cards directly (Visa and Discovery), apply for mortgages, buy car and home insurance, conduct all banking transactions, and even invest with the likes of Fidelity and Vanguard. It went public in 1993.
In 2009, INTU purchased Mint.com. The company’s app allows users to better keep track of all their accounts, liabilities, bills, and investments in a single glance. It is the most downloaded personal finance app in the marketplace at this point.
Intuit’s main products. (Source: Intuit.com)
Today, INTU has over 14,000 employees around the world and 20 offices in 9 countries. Its TurboTax and Quicken apps (and their derivatives) are as popular as ever. INTU also has a market capitalization of approximately $131 billion.
Since the company’s IPO in 1993, the stock has split three times, in 1996, 1999 and 2000. Also, as you can see in the company’s stock chart below, up until just very recently with the Ukraine War crisis, the stock showed impressive megatrend growth over the past few decades. It looks to be headed back up in an impressive “V” recovery.
Intuit’s most recent acquisitions include Credit Karma in February 2020 and MailChimp in September 2021. These companies complement Intuit’s strengths and help it realize its greater corporate vision.
Credit Karma is a personal e-finance company that allows users to check their credit ratings free of charge, helping them make decisions about applying for loans or not. It also allows users to effectively dispute errors in their credit reporting.
Finally, it allows people to monitor databases for unclaimed property databases. You’d be surprised that sometimes people forget about their accounts and then these accounts are added to databases.
MailChimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that allows its users to manage email marketing lists and create email marketing campaigns and polls to send to customers and prospects. Mailchimp is also known for its marketing campaign strategies for companies wishing to advertise on podcasts.
Intuit corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Silicon Valley, CA. (Source: coporateofficeheadquarters.org)
A MegaTrend for the Long Haul
All these highly useful software apps mean that INTU has begun to expand its vision to a much more holistic level, which has opened up new, rapidly growing markets. Taxes aren’t going away, bills aren’t going away, and everyone will pretty much always want to figure out how to save more, and it seems very likely Intuit will continue to expand its value and influence for both consumers and professionals.
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