Personal financial innovation
on a global scale
We were both born in 1983, though we had other things in common. I was a small baby, and they were a small startup. Scott Cook was just a guy who wanted to help the average American balance their checkbook and manage day to day household finances on their PC. One important (and different) thing Intuit has focused on when building their software, was that the forms should work and look like the paper forms people were used to. The idea that software would mirror real life functions, was relatively foreign to accounting software at the time, which mostly focused on only very large companies processing a lot of data. But to make the software marketable to the average Joe, they knew they had to use the same language. The first draft, Kwik-Chek, actually looked like a checkbook, even copying their own Wells-Fargo check registers, down to every line. They wanted it to be intuitive. In 1984 they launched Quicken. In 1991 my little sister was born, and the competition for cuteness was on. Meanwhile, Intuit was facing its own version of sibling rivalry. That same year, Microsoft caught a whiff of Intuit’s success with quicken and launched Money. To keep customers coming back, Intuit offered a $15 rebate. To keep the pressure on high, Intuit went public in 1993, trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol INTU. The initial public offering was very successful and the proceeds were used to begin to diversify their product line. In 1994, around the time I was developing my first crush on boy, Intuit was striking a unique deal with Microsoft. The companies agreed that Microsoft would purchase Intuit’s valuable creations. However instead of totally absorbing them, Bill Gates assured Intuit’s parents that they would allow them to run completely independently. Intuit company emails to employees included a list of "10 top reasons to get psyched about merger" that included pros such as: "Close-up view of what a state-of-the-art pocket protector looks like", "New business cards for everybody", and "Makes spying on Microsoft much easier." The merger, thought to be a win-win for the two companies, later turned out to be a lose for consumers, and the Department of Justice intervened in the merger and put a stop to the 1.5 billion (yes, Billion with a B) dollar deal. In the 1990’s I came into adolescence, testing my boundaries, trying new makeup and personas, and seeing just what I could get away with. Intuit was no different, acquiring Chipsoft (which paved the road for TurboTax), developed QuickBooks and focusing strongly on web-based programming and advertising. But just like my hotpink hair, not all decisions proved fashionable, like Excite (similar to yahoo, but a lot less successful). The growth and innovation continued thorough the 90s and in the 2000s, establishing or acquiring Bill Pay, QuickenHealth, WillMaker, OnlineBackup, Merchant Services, Incorporation Services, Quicken Loans, Mint, QuickBase, and many others. While Intuits “college years” time frame mirrored my recent return to higher education, their social mishaps were more reminiscent of my first trip through the college tumble dryer. Among their more notable faux pas, negotiating a deal that has the IRS promising to not host its own web portal to e-file taxes, and $2 million in political contributions in California to eliminate free online state tax filing for low income residents. Like any child, we fall, we get scabs, they heal, and we learn. Now, almost 3 decades after the birth of Quicken, Intuit brings in $3.5 billion annually in revenues. Recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s “America’s Most Admired Companies” and “100 Best Companies to Work For”, Intuit is considered a leader in innovation, social responsibility and as an employer. Okay, so we know they have an interesting history and are very successful, but why now, the two of us in the prime of our adult lives, would I want...