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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.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

Reddit files to go public

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP via Getty Images

It's official: Reddit wants to go public, and has filed its IPO prospectus with the SEC.

Why it matters: The company was bought by publishing giant Condé Nast for $10 million in 2006. After well over $1 billion in subsequent new investment, it's hoping for a $15 billion valuation when it goes public, per Reuters.

36 mins ago - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.