How Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin Built A Billion Dollar Brand
“Lin founded the company in 2007, with the goal of creating a customer-friendly alternative to trickster credit score services. He has since raised $386 million, vaulting Credit Karma into the ranks of Silicon Valley’s startup unicorns, and figured out how to turn a profit while helping nearly 70 million Americans discover financial services products that meet their needs.”
I became familiar with Credit Karma in 2012 during my MBA program at BGI (Bainbridge Graduate Institute). The SLICE Team used Credit Karma, a free Credit Checking service, for students and investors seeking SLICE loans.
Did the SLICE Team knew that Credit Karma was just an overlay of the Credit Scoring system from Equifax and TransUnion? Did I know? In October 2017, I checked my score on Credit Karma and, for the first time, noticed the Credit Karma scoring system used Equifax and TransUnion. Check out my October 2017 blog post – How to Analyze Your Credit Score with CreditKarma.com for the complete analysis.
My Credit Karma Score March 9, 2018
Whoops! My score went down.
Credit Karma helped me close two accounts – MACYS and COMENITY BANK/WEST ELM, accounts that I only opened to get discounts. And I applied for and received an American Express Blue Cash Credit Card, which was advertised on my site in the same manner as the Chase Freedom Unlimited Creit card below my credit rating.
“For users, the product is simple: Create a Credit Karma account, and you can monitor your credit score for free. Based on your credit history, the company then generates targeted offers for financial services including credit cards, student loans, and auto loans. If you opt in to one of those offers, Credit Karma gets paid by a referral fee by the bank or lender–a new credit card customer, for example, could be worth as much as $700. In 2015, the company made around $350 million.”
Okay – I fell for the scam and signed up for Blue Cash Everyday from American Express. Of course, the algorithm ninjas immediately whisked away all the information about the card I signed up for. The terms for the card that I received didn’t match what I expected. And, of course, there is always the FINE PRINT legal terms, which 74 year old eyes can’t read even with glasses.
This e-mail from Chris from Credit Karma’s Community Support Team.
Credit Karma’s Community Support Team
Chris from Credit Karma’s Community Support Team did try to help, but he was outsmarted by the algorithm ninjas so I took matters into my own hands and sent this letter to Stephen Squeri, CEO, American Express.
Message to Kenneth Lin:
Actions to get Credit Karma back on track:
- Void all current advertising contracts NOW, including Credit Cards, Mortgages and Refinancing, Auto Loans, Tax Preparation, etc.
- Notify American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover that you will accept advertising for one Credit Card each.
- Credit Card must meet the SIMPLE Terms and Conditions in my letter to President Trump
- Credit Card Company must agree to only use CK to check CK customer’s credit
- Credit Card Company must pay Credit Karma a $10.00 fee for each Credit Card issued
- Come back to me once steps one and two are in place and we can strategize next steps
Thank you for listening Kenneth Lin.