In the US credit rating industry that is dominated by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, Billion Dollar Unicorn Credit Karma was expected to list this year. However, recent funding arrangements suggest otherwise.
Credit Karma’s Offerings
San Francisco-based Credit Karma was founded in 2007 by Kenneth Lin to offer consumers deeper insight into their credit score. Unlike other players which charge for their services, credit rating reports through Credit Karma are always free.
Credit Karma reported its first credit score in 2008. By 2016, it had added its 60 millionth member, and it is currently operating with more than 80 million subscribers.
Credit Karma has always wanted to grow beyond being a credit score reporting tool. It has defined its mission as becoming the “Kayak for the financial services industry”.
Besides credit scores, the company now offers several other personal finance management tools. Users can not only monitor their scores, but also gain insight into what affects their credit scores and get personalized recommendations on credit management.
It has also expanded its services into offering free tax filing assistance to its subscribers. And, more recently, the company launched a new service that lets a user find unclaimed money that the user may not even be aware of. The sources of unclaimed cash include uncashed paychecks, forgotten bank accounts, unclaimed refunds, and insurance payouts and are estimated to account for nearly $40 billion in cash in the U.S.
Last year, Credit Karma also released an auto-focused tool. Similar to a financial tool, the product will become a one-stop check for all auot-related information including paperwork and financials related to the DMV, car insurance, and loans.
Credit Karma’s Financials
Credit Karma proudly claims to be a free service. It does not charge and has no plans of charging consumers for the services it provides. Instead, it earns revenues through advertising. It offers targeted exclusive offers to its subscribers and earns a fee for connecting financial product companies with its subscribers. The free services have not slowed down revenue growth. In 2017, the company saw revenues grow 37% to $682 million. Credit Karma is still privately held and does not disclose detailed financials. But reports reveal that the company has been profitable since 2015.
Credit Karma has raised $868 million in funding so far from investors including Silver Lake Partners, Google Capital, Tiger Global Management, Susquehanna Growth Equity, Ribbit Capital, 500 Startups, Susquehanna Growth Equity, Angel LLC, QED Investors, SV Angel, Founders Fund, and Felicis Ventures. Its latest round of funding was held in March this year when it raised $500 million in a round led by Silver Lake Partners at a valuation of $4 billion. Instead of issuing new shares to sell stake to Silver Lake, Credit Karma collected common shares from early investors and employees as part of this round. While the move acts as a good exit option for early investors, it also suggests a delay in a listing.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns.