Scott Cook started Intuit in 1983, and since then he and the company have overcome quite a few obstacles. He watched as mobile became a dominant channel in people’s lives, found ways to penetrate emerging markets, and leveraged Intuit’s excellent reputation to pick up the hot new kid on the block, Mint.com.
The acquisition went down in 2009, two years after Mint launched on the TechCrunch 40 stage. Cook says that by taking its rival and nurturing it under Intuit’s (much larger) wing, Mint has grown to be four times larger than it was at the time of acquisition. This is a classic case of two competitors coming together in a mutually beneficial way. Intuit provides an excellent distribution platform for Mint, and in turn, Mint pushes users into Intuit’s portfolio of various financial tools, including TurboTax.
We also took the opportunity to ask Cook about mobile payments, and where he sees the space going. Intuit recently launched a QuickBooks point-of-sale card reader and an app to help SMBs track their books and perform transactions all in one place. “I think the space will shake out,” said Cook. “Square is a great company, but they’re not direct competition. Each company will find their own separate ecosystem.”
He explained that, as with anything, the solution has to fit the problem rather than being a one-size-fits-all type fix. That said, he sees Intuit as a company that offers a wide range of products for however you may conduct business, whereas Square is doing something a bit more uniform with its single card reader and various accompanying apps.
Cook also recalled the transition to mobile in 2008. The company went from four mobile apps to over 30 now, with user ratings jumping from an average of three stars to four and a half stars. “It wasn’t that dramatic, it was just natural,” he says of the push into mobile. “We’re all users, and it is the best thing we’ve ever done.”