Mint.com, a start-up whose Web site helps people organize their money, rolled into some cash of its own on Monday, selling out to the personal finance giant Intuit for $170 million.
Companies like Intuit that sell boxed software have been struggling to gain their footing on the Web as free, online financial start-ups like Mint, SmartyPig and Wesabe have surged in popularity for their simplicity and ease of use, said Emmett Higdon, a senior analyst with Forrester Research who specializes in the online banking industry.
Intuit is the maker of widely used financial software applications like TurboTax and Intuit.
“Quicken seems like something your dad uses,” Mr. Higdon said. Younger, Web-savvy users “aren’t likely to sit down nightly and enter in a bunch of financial information online,” he said. “These sites appeal to the iPhone audience.”
In June, Microsoft discontinued sales of its boxed finance software, Microsoft Money Plus, but consumers can still find many similar functions on Microsoft’s MSN Money Web site. It is a clear indication that online personal-finance sites are starting to have an impact, said Stessa Cohen, research analyst at Garter Research.
“Consumer awareness isn’t huge but it’s increasing,” Ms. Cohen said.
Mint, which unveiled its free online services in September 2007, quickly became popular as more people turned to the Web to create budgets and manage their finances. The company says it has 1.5 million users tracking nearly $50 billion in assets and $200 billion in transactions.
“As Mint’s product grew in popularity, it became clear it wasn’t a question of if Intuit would acquire them anymore, but one of when and how much,” said Jeff Clavier, founder of SoftTech VC, an early-stage investment company that backed Mint.
To date, Mint.com has taken more than $31 million in venture backing, from investment firms like Shasta Ventures, First Round Capital, Benchmark Capital and the angel investor Ron Conway.
Although Mint.com and Quicken Online are rival services, the companies say they will continue to operate the two sites independently, and incorporate some of Mint’s features into Intuit’s services.
“We were much better served by having Mint and its leadership as part of Intuit instead of trying to build it separately,” said Dan Maurer, senior vice president of Intuit’s consumer group.
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, but the companies said they hoped to close the deal by the end of the year. Both companies are based in Mountain View, Calif. After the transaction is complete, Mint.com will move its operations into Intuit’s offices.
Aaron Patzer, Mint.com’s founder and chief executive, will become general manager of Intuit’s personal finance group and oversee the operations of Mint.com, Quicken and Quicken Online. He said that his first priority would be integrating some of Mint’s features into Intuit’s products. Eventually, he said, he hoped Mint.com could forge partnerships with financial institutions looking to upgrade their online and mobile-banking services, something Intuit already does through its Digital Insight subsidiary.
“Longer term, there’s huge potential for Mint’s technology and user-interface design on Intuit’s banking and credit union division,” he said.