• Bloomberg

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Intuit Inc., the software giant behind TurboTax, 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 startup offers other services too, including the ability to apply for a credit card, find an auto loan or start a savings account. The combination will help consumers manage debt, maximize savings and have better access to credit cards and loans, Intuit said in a statement Monday.

Fintech companies are at a crossroads where a number of them are established enough to go public, but a spate of poor-performing IPOs are making acquisitions more attractive. At the same time, incumbent companies aren’t afraid to snap up startups as a way to fuel their own growth. “The fertile M&A 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 startups will have a choice to take a deal or buckle down and focus on filling product gaps.”

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

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 percent from 2018, Intuit said.

Intuit also reported fiscal second-quarter results, with revenue up 13 percent in the period to $1.7 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of $1.68 billion. Net income rose 27 percent to $240 million, or 91 cents a share, in the three months ended Jan. 31. 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 E*Trade Financial Corp. for $13 billion, while Visa Inc. agreed to acquire Plaid for $5.3 billion in January.

Late last year, PayPal Holdings Inc. snapped up online coupon company Honey Science Corp. for $4 billion and 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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