Sep 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Why Mailchimp's potential sale would be unique

Illustration of a boot full of cash.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Bloomberg recently reported that Intuit is in talks to buy Mailchimp for more than $10 billion, we noted how the email marketing company hadn't taken any outside funding since its 2001 founding. It got us to wondering about other bootstrapped success stories, particularly in this era of easy money for startups.

What we learned: Mailchimp is unique, so long as it sells for double-digit billions.

PitchBook compiled a list of exits, both IPO and M&A, for global companies that never took venture capital or private equity.

  • The vast majority were corporate carveouts, particularly in the telecom and cable sectors.
  • Several went public in small IPOs and later acquired for big money.
  • None of this includes bootstrapped companies that have remained private, like Epic Systems.

There have been a few other multi-billion dollar sales of bootstrapped companies, like Microsoft buying Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion, or Assurance IQ selling to Prudential Financial for $2.4 billion. But nothing close to what Mailchimp may fetch.

  • Bootstrapping is usually more a result of circumstance than intention, and bootstrapped startups typically grow slower and cap out lower than do VC-backed startups.

The bottom line: Mailchimp could stand alone.

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