Software firm Intuit announced Monday that it is acquiring email marketing software startup Mailchimp in a $12 billion deal.
For cofounders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, the cash and stock acquisition amounts to a big payday that is 20 years in the making. The Atlanta-based company’s email marketing tools cater to small businesses, and its founders have maintained a small business philosophy even as the company ballooned to revenues that reached $800 million last year.
That philosophy has come most notably through Chestnut and Kurzius’ decision to reject outside investments entirely, instead choosing to bootstrap the company through their own mettle. As a result, Chestnut and Kurzius each hold a 50% stake in the company. The deal entails $300 million in employee bonuses, meaning the remaining $11.7 billion, evenly split between cash and Intuit stock, will be paid out to the two cofounders. After accounting for taxes on the cash received, the duo is estimated to be worth $5 billion apiece. A Mailchimp spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Mailchimp ranked No. 14 on Forbes’ 2021 Cloud 100, one of two startups—the other being remote-based Zapier—to crack the top 30 without taking the more common approach of raising hundreds of millions in venture capital funding.
Chestnut, who is CEO, and Kurzius, who serves as chief customer officer, launched Mailchimp in 2001 in the wake of the dotcom bubble collapse. The company started out as a side project to their other internet businesses, which included a web design company and an e-greetings site (Mailchimp is named after their most popular e-card character). By 2007, the business had received enough momentum that the pair opted to commit to it full time.
The pair maintained full ownership of the company over the years, which landed them on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans for the first time in 2018 (Chestnut also made the cover of the magazine issue). Mailchimp recorded $600 million in revenue that year, and has added roughly $100 million more each year since. It’s on track to cross the $1 billion mark in 2021, a company spokesperson previously told Forbes.
MORE FOR YOU
For Intuit, the deal expands its range of small business offerings, which currently include consumer-oriented software like TurboTax, which helps consumers file their taxes at home, and the budgeting tool Mint, as well as business-focused products such as accounting software QuickBooks. News of its Mailchimp acquisition did not have an immediate impact on its stock, which is trading at a market capitalization of more than $150 billion as of Monday market close.