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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

Inside Democrats' tax-hike menu

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

House Democrats will consider as much as $2.9 trillion in tax hikes for the next 10 years — mostly on the extremely wealthy and corporate America — as they scramble for ways to pay for President Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure and social spending plan.

Why it matters: A draft proposal from the Ways and Means Committee, which ricocheted across Washington on Sunday night, previews epic fall fights between Democrats and some of the best-armed lobbies in America.

Ex-Theranos CEO describes alleged abuse by former boyfriend and company exec

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

On her fourth day of trial testimony, ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes described her 10-year romantic relationship with former president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani as controlling, and said he would sometimes "force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to."

Why it matters: While Balwani has also been similarly charged with fraud, the two are being tried separately, in part because some of Holmes' defense hinges on blaming him.

Amazon ordered to redo union vote in Alabama

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

A U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official on Monday called for a re-vote in a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Why it matters: The move could set the stage for another organizing drive at the e-commerce giant, which has, so far, fought off unionizing efforts in the U.S.