More M&A: publicly-traded software company Intuit is acquiring personal finance upstart for $170m., which launched at TechCrunch40 in 2007 and had raised nearly $32m from investors, has over 1.5m users and tracks more than $50bn in assets for its users. is simple: it allows users to aggregate data for their bank, credit and investment accounts and track those accounts through a single interface. Through this, can help users identify areas for savings (it claims to have found over $300m in potential savings for its users) and promote financial services that users may be interested in.

It’s a natural fit for Intuit, which is best-known for producing the Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax software packages. While Intuit isn’t new to the web (it runs a number of finance websites and offers web-based versions of QuickBooks and TurboTax), this is yet another example of a nimble upstart beating a larger company to the punch.

Intuit plans to make its flagship personal finance property online and it appears that founder and CEO Aaron Patzer will remain on board.

In a guest post on TechCrunch, Patzer provides some interesting insights into’s journey. Of note:

  • On SEO: “To build demand, we started asking for email addresses for our alpha 9 months in
    advance of launch. Then when we had too many people sign up, we asked people to
    put a little badge that said “I want Mint” on their blogs to get priority
    access. We got free advertising and 600 link backs which raised our SEO juice.
  • On paid search engine marketing: “We decided not to do SEM – it’s too easy and too additive. Instead, we relied on
    press. It’s where I spent 20% of my time.
  • On open source: “Our technology was all open source, and essentially all free: MySQL at the
    bottom, Hibernate to avoid the need to hire a DBA, Tomcat on Apache, Yahoo’s YUI
    served as the base for our AJAXy goodness.

But perhaps the top lesson Patzer offers: the importance of building something that solves a real problem. Patzer writes:

While everyone else was doing social media, music, video or the startup de jour, we tried to ground ourselves in what any business should be doing: solve a real problem for people. Make something that is faster, more efficient, cheaper (in this case free), and innovate on technology or business model to make a healthy revenue stream doing it.

That strategy took from “$0 to $170m in three years flat” and for other startups looking to do the same, a similar strategy is probably in order.