Going rate for acquisitions at Intuit: $170 million

When selling a company, it helps to know the buyer's sweet spot. We know Intuit's.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman

Tuesday night, I asked Justin Kitch, who sold his company, Homestead.com, to Intuit in 2007, how much Intuit paid for the company. "$170 million," he said. "No," I said, "That was Mint. How much was Homestead?"

"It's funny, isn't it?" he said. Both Mint and Homestead went for the same price.

Coincidence? Intuit also bought another company, Paycycle, in June of this year. Guess for how much. That's right. $170 million.

What the heck is going on at Inuit? Do they have a stack of pre-printed $170 million checks? Do they only like companies as they pass through that magical valuation number (as decided by their own analysts)?

Intuit says this: It's a coincidence. And, I've been reminded, the company has made non-$170 million buys: MyCorporation.com in 2005, for $20 million; Digital Insight (2007) for $1.3 billion; Electronic Clearing House (2007) for $131 million; and Entellium (2008) for $8 million.

I still think if you're selling a company to Intuit, you should ask for $170 million. It's a figure they're comfortable with.