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Reporters' Roundtable Podcast: Mint's Patzer

Aaron Patzer's personal finance site Mint is being acquired by Intuit. We grill Patzer on why he sold the company, the future of Quicken, and the security of online financial data.

This week, I'm joined by CNET security expert Elinor Mills in a discussion with Mint CEO Aaron Patzer, whose personal finance site is being acquired by Intuit. We grill Patzer on why he sold the company, the future of Quicken, and the security of online financial data.

Now playing: Watch this: Mint CEO Aaron Patzer


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I really enjoyed recording this podcast. We had the start-up CEO of the moment in to talk about why he sold his personal finance company, Mint, to Intuit--the company he built Mint to compete with in the first place.

Also, Elinor grills Patzer on the security safeguards in his system. Patzer tells us getting access to Mint data is like initiating self-destruct on the Starship Enterprise: You need three people to give their individual passwords at the same time or no go. Play the podcast for the full content, and for our show notes, including some bonus content from a post-show discussion, keep reading.


Reporters Roundtable # 3: Mint

Host Rafe Needleman
Producer Lynn Fu
Guest Elinor Mills, security reporter for CNET News
Special Guest Aaron Patzer, CEO Mint


Hello and welcome to episode #3 of the Reporters Roundtable, CNET's weekly deep dive into one major topic a week. I'm Rafe Needleman from CNET, and today we're going to be talking with AARON PATZER, CEO of the personal finance Web site Mint. Aaron, hello.

Mint was sold recently to Intuit for $170 million. We'll be talking about the acquisition, and also about the personal finance market, online security, and I have some questions listeners have sent in. Joining me to talk with Aaron is Elinor Mills, security reporter for CNET News. Elinor, thanks for joining us at the roundtable.


The sale

You started Mint when? (Intro'd 2 yr ago at TC 50, won 50k prize, best of show. )

After the award, I remember talking to you at, if I'm not mistaken a party at the old SF Mint, and you said, it's nice recognition, but we didn't really need the money. So what did you do with it?

Then sold to Intuit for $170M. So first thing: Congrats.

Talk about the vision - why you started Mint. What you expected to happen with the company. When you sold, how much of the company was left in the hands of founders?

Why'd you sell? You had Intuit on the ropes!

You've receive a backlash from customers. Here's a sample e-mail i received:
"Why did you sell out to a company with absolutely terrible money management software and a complete disregard for customer service? Do you understand how upset you've made your core user base?" - Jeff B.

What do you think? What are you doing about it?

What will your job be at Mint?

Re Intuit changeover:

Don Reisinger - Webware writer - says, Mint uses Yodlee for its back-end aggregation of banking information. It licensed the tech from the company. Under the terms of the Intuit deal, Yodlee isn't included. I spoke with an Intuit PR person yesterday who told me that after the acquisition is approved, Intuit will be using its own aggregation service and ditching Yodlee. My question: how will this impact the service? Will it be as reliable? My inclination is that the aggregation service isn't as good (after all, that's a key component in making Mint Mint), so it could have an impact on the service after it becomes an Intuit feature.

I talked to Yodlee and an SVP said, "We think Mint will stick w Yodlee. They'll come to the same conclusion."

Reader question: Are the current terms of service for different from Intuit?

Personal finance market

Yodlee execs think consumers will do most of their online banking, even integrated online banking, via BANKS. Yodlee running 85% of xacts. What do you think?


Let's talk about security, the real sticking point in this category. Elinor discussion...

Storage of personal data, passwords, etc. where and how protected?

Audit notice to customers of who, when account was accessed?

Security assessments?


Reader comment

I heard about mint and signed up about 1 week before it hit big news, about a month ago. I looked online and watched a bunch of videos of the CEO, because i wasn't going to give my pin numbers to just anyone. If it had been some guy in a suit saying "blah blah encryption blah blah %100 safe blah blah" I would have laughed and left. But he seemed really nice and really straight forward, and I like to think that I am a good judge of character. So I signed up, and was super excited, I even been telling people about it and encouraging them to Check it out. I requested my bank be added and now here I am.

Now my question: I live in a small town of 100k, have a local bank w only thousands of customers , I'm willing to wait for approval, but realistically, is that going to happen?

If my bank never reaches that threshold, can I just pay to have it setup?

- Jonathan Hand



Q: What do you think about the concept of sunsetting users on Quicken?

A: Too early to know and we haven't closed the deal. Might go to a subscription model. It's speculation so far.

Features people are asking for, via emails:

Q: Is there thought in integrating bill pay or some type of payment system in Mint so it could be more of that one stop shop? - Carl Feldhaus

A: Yes, we'll do this with Intuit, although it might require a fee from users for those whose banks don't do it themselves.

Q: Would love for you to ask Aaron for an eta on when a blackberry app will be introduced? I'd use the 10x more if we had ANYTHING. - Mike Weiss

A: Not planned. Android is. It's easier to develop for. Not saying never, but 40% of Mint users have iphones, so that's priority.

Q: Can we find a way to add a print function so I can print out some of the charts created with Mint? - Michael G

A: We're working on print.css. Right now printing is ugly. No timeframe yet, but we will do it.