Why Did Intuit Buy Mint?

I read some interesting news this morning when I saw that Intuit will acquire Mint.com. I have been following Mint for quite some time mainly because I always wanted to track my spending in a simple and effective manner. However, it was not until a few months ago that my bank accounts were finally accepted into the Mint fold. I had been planning to review Mint in comparison to Intuit’s Quicken Online offering for ages, but this news changes my plan.

The question now is, why did Intuit buy Mint? Let me start with a basic comparison of the two online offerings. First, Quicken Online is basically an online version of its desktop sibling. So, it is a little heavy for someone that just wants to track their spending. However, that heaviness also means you get all of the date based alerts and tons of reporting. Much of the reporting functionality seems to have trickled down from the business packages of QuickBooks.

Mint takes a different approach. It does not have the staid design of Quicken, as it was born in the web 2.0 mold. Of course, Mint allows you to track your spending but the focus is not on paying bills. The focus of Mint is to track your spending against a budget and to see where you can save money.

The design aspects are also important here. Quicken took the standard Intuit approach that it needs to look like a checkbook, and makes it feel like personal finance is a chore. Mint has more of the flashy graphics, and generally makes the online checkbook look cool. One of the big differences is that the budget and saving money sections are on the main page.

I think there are two main reasons this deal occurred. First, Intuit bought Mint for online customer acquisition. If Mint really has more than a million users, a purchase is an easy way to quickly ramp up your online presence. However, that can only be a part of it because Quicken has a very well known brand and it already has Quicken Online. The second part of the reasoning is that Mint is really the online personal finance leader and it could give Quicken a major upgrade. It is a change of attitude from the software perspective, and Mint has continuously received excellent press coverage. Most people that use Mint absolutely love it, including me. A lot of this is due to the difference in focus. Quicken’s focus on how much money you have is a very business oriented approach. Mint takes a “friendlier” approach with its’ “this is how you can save money”.

Mint also gets some major benefits from this purchase. Besides the founders and investors making some good money on the deal, they now get the backing of a major personal finance player. Any questions of whether Mint will survive now become “will Intuit keep Mint running?” Intuit already has relationships with most of the banking institutions, so one of the few problems that Mint has had, whether they link to your accounts, now go away. In all honesty, both sides of this purchase will benefit in the long term, which does seem to be rare in this economy.

Obviously, I am a fan of this deal. What do you think? Did Intuit buy Mint to kill it? Or did Intuit make a big leap in the online space with this purchase? And what does this mean for other online personal finance tools like Wesabe?

27 thoughts on “Why Did Intuit Buy Mint?

  1. Mint.com’s offerings are the best online I’ve found, and Quicken needed to get the product to stay relevant in this space. I hope they maintain the Mint.com brand, but these things rarely work out the way I want them to.


  2. Louis,

    I also hope they maintain the Mint brand and the service. I have tried to use Quicken for years, but Mint hooked me in the first few days using it.


  3. Personally, I don’t want to have to go online to look at my finances. That’s why I prefer the Quicken desktop client.

    It will be interesting to see how PNC reacts to all this.


  4. SLEZE

    Online finances are not for everyone, and Quicken has been the leader on the desktop for years.

    I am not sure about PNC, but the banks have not been reacting to much in the online space.


  5. As a Mint user who very conciencely chose to NOT go with Intuit, I feel sold out. Seems like yet another great idea that was built just to sell to someone else once enough suckers signed on. I don’t want to be an Intuit customer. I want to be a user of an innovative solution.


  6. Intuit didn’t acquire Mint to kill the company. Intuit simply isn’t that type of company. I assure you Mint will continue the same techniques that have made it such a success.


  7. I personally despise Intuit, as does any individual who has ever worked in IT at where Quickbooks was in use.

    Intuit ignored, for at least a decade, desperate pleas from administrators everywhere: “PLEASE! Don’t require administrator rights to run your product! Dear god!” While the accountant cheerfully broadcast virus spam to everyone on Exchange.

    A decade. Heck, I’d be somewhat surprised if it isn’t still the case.

    Intuit and security are as oil and water. I doubt I will leave my Mint account open.

    I love Mint. I too feel sold out.


  8. Mint uses Yodlee for account aggregation and authentication services; a change to Intuit’s internal system (if they’re not also using Yodlee, as Yodlee provides this to many banks and other financial services) would be immense. This by way of saying that the “my account isn’t supported” problem won’t suddenly lift just because Intuit has bought them. Not suddenly, in any event–I’d imagine it will take quite some time, in fact.


  9. Intuit also bought Paytrust, (scan bills and pay them) and haven’t done much with it. It really needs an overhaul and they have not really added more banks or functionality.

    Tying these two together might be interesting.


  10. Look at Paytrust and you’ll see what Intuit has done with it. Paytrust was a game changer in online bill management early on and Intiut has NOT done one single improvement since 2005 after they bought it. That’s right 2005! Mint is DEAD IMO.


  11. I closed my account. Intuit’s philosophy, poor customer support, and old school approach to software will eventually mar a beautiful and useful Web 2.0 app.


  12. Everyone (likely Diggers),

    I appreciate the comments and normally I would try to respond to each of you. However, I am going to respond to all of the comments in a separate blog post mainly to get some thoughts around what you are all saying.

    Honestly, I am rather surprised that many of you are leaving Mint so quickly. That is the main reason why I want to think about this situation.


  13. Intuit bought PayMyBills.com (now Paytrust.com) some years ago. It dovetails very nicely with the mint.com acquisition. Investigate Paytrust.com and you’ll see the connection.


  14. I started using Mint about a month ago. One thing I didn’t like about it was…when you go in depth, there’s no way to go back one level. Like you start out at the top level of your report, go deeper and deeper, and there’s no back button. If you press back on your browser it restarts the thing. Kinda annoying.

    Also the report is delayed. So it’s not an instant update.

    However it’s the only online site I use for managing my finances…well not managing but simply over looking. I think it’s really good.


  15. In my experience, every time a bigger company (especially a publicly traded company) buys a smaller company, they suck the life out of it and run it into the ground. Everything becomes about how much they can make the shareholders and the customers (and employees) just become numbers and dollar signs.


  16. I’m a little behind the times on this one, but just wanted to say I use Mint.com and love it. Also, in my experience I’ve noticed if Intuit can charge money for something they will, so we can look forward to a great free service becoming a pay service. Booooo! :-


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