So, how much about the American-owned and operated NerdWallet do you know? Have you heard about it? Do you know it's a personal finance company? If not, you do now. Do you know it's a publicly-traded commodity on the New York Stock Exchange as Nasdaq NRDS (Class A)? Well, it is.
1. NerdWallet, Year One
In August 2009, NerdWallet was officially registered as a company, which specialized in the niche of personal finance through its website, plus its application program. The concept behind NerdWallet is providing a service to promote financial products to its users. This all got started with the initial investment of $800 USD and offered a web application that issued comparative information regarding credit cards. This enabled a large amount of content to boost the results of various search engines. Within its first year, the company grew quickly and the road for continued success seemed imminent.
2. Over Thirty Million Served
By March 2014, over thirty-million users were accessing the NerdWallet website. In 2015, approximately $64 million was raised as a result of its first round of funding and had an estimated value of $500 million. At this point, the company had developed solid working relationships with eight banks and a dozen insurance companies. This expansion enabled NerdWallet to have over two hundred employees on its roster. By 2016, NerdWallet acquired AboutLife, a retirement planning firm that was valued at $520 million.
3. Jacob Gibson
Jacob Gibson was one of the co-founders behind NerdWallet and started off as the chief operating officer (COO) before he was replaced in 2014 by LinkedIn's Dan Yoo. Before teaming with Tim Chen to form NerdWallet, Gibson was working with JPMorgan Chase's trading firm and was among the few to survive the financial crisis that saw unemployment rates skyrocket in 2008. Although no longer the COO, Gibson is still very much part of the NerdWallet universe as he remains one of its advisors. In a 2016 interview he shared with RocketSpace, he points out as a former Wall Street employee, the focus behind NerdWallet is to be ant-WallStreet and anti-investment bank.
4. Tim Chen
Tim Chen is one of the co-founders of NerdWallet and is currently the company's chief executive officer (CEO). He is also a board member of the National Foundation for Credit Counselling. According to Inc., Tim Chen's focus is to set his NerdWallet website the ultimate go-to place to handle every consumer finance concern a consumer may have. In his opinion, he understands from personal experience what it feels like to have questions nobody else is able to answer, at least not honestly. Before becoming one of the co-founders of NerdWallet, he used to be a hedge fund analyst.
5. The Great Reset
In 2013, Tim Chen, after observing the self-critical and transparent management styles, took it upon himself to remove twenty percent of the workforce as part of a restructuring procedure that made it become a flatter matrix-style platform. Since then, Tim Chen has been determined to never see one-fifth of this company's staff roster see another devastating loss. The preference to favor a flat-line transparency platform has proven to be a successful formula. One of the primary reasons behind the reset was Chen learning twenty percent of his company had employees who were not team players. Eleven people were let go as a means to kick out the cancer that was poisoning his company so that its overall health of it could be restored. This was done two days after the company's Christmas holiday.
6. Dan Yoo
Former vice-president of business operations and business analytics from LinkedIn, Dan Yoo, replaced co-founder Jacob Gibson as NerdWallet's chief operating officer as part of the company's great reset that began at the end of 2013. Come 2014, Yoo took Gibson's spot as Gibson agreed he'd be of better service to NerdWallet as an advisor as his wife just had twins and he wanted to spend more time at home with his family. Dan Yoo's interest in NerdWallet actually began when he was looking into financial information for his own interests and upon the meeting, it was as if fate had something special in mind as Yoo admitted he wanted to become more involved with NerdWallet's development. This paved the way for him to take Gibson's place as both Chen and Gibson capitalized on what was a golden opportunity.
7. Florence Thinh
Former operating partner of Khosla Ventures, Florence Thinh joined NerdWallet as its vice-president of operations in 2014 at the same time Dan Yoo became its COO. Prior to this, Thinh was Zynga's director of talent acquisition. At the time, the size of NerdWallet was seventy-five employees, even after just letting go eleven of them. At the time, NerdWallet hoped by the end of 2015 the staff roster would double to one hundred and fifty employees. Now at 2022, the roster is nearly at five hundred and the company is still growing.
8. $520 Million Value
Currently, NerdWallet is worth $520 million, at least according to the sources shared on the internet, including sites like The Hustle It earned this by offering all the consumer options possible for people who were looking for financial advice on anything. This way, whenever making an important purchase that requires purchase, through NerdWallet a roadmap will be laid out on how to go about it. This ingenious concept allows for the best possible financing options, including mortgages, as a financial equivalent to Yelp. The big move that has seen NerdWallet achieve this came from the great company 2013 reset Tim Chen needed to do in order to save NerdWallet from going under. Since then, it's been all about moving forward, making smarter decisions, and being as analytical as possible every step of the way.
9. NerdWallet is Not a Bank
As quoted by Dan Yoo on Inc., the current COO of NerdWallet, "Most consumers want to know that they can trust somebody who is not beholden to one financial institution," this is to confirm this company is not a bank. It is a financial advisory service that works with banks and insurance companies to make an otherwise complex financial picture more transparent. The more clear a picture is for consumers to understand, the better it is for them to make a sound judgment where their money goes. The source of truth approach NerdWallet takes comes as a post-financial crisis hero in a world that continually demands so much from the average human being who is barely able to make ends meet as it is.
10. NerdWallet is Not an Insurance Broker
Although NerdWallet works with many insurance agencies, this company is not an insurance broker. Still following the transparency rule, what NerdWallet provides is clear, unbiased information for the consumer to learn what insurance firms best suit the needs of a consumer that is looking for specific services as they're needed.
11. NerdWallet's Google Presence
Whenever typing an inquiry about finances or insurance concerns, there is a strong bet there will be an article or blog written by somebody from the NerdWallet team. Currently, it has over seventy writers as part of its staff roster. Even on NerdWallet's directly accessed website, there will be a list of recommended credit cards, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other financial-related concerns consumers are looking for.
12. Two Nerds in a Pod
Tim Chen, who considers himself a nerd, originally met co-founder Jacob Gibson, in Atlanta when the two attended a local school together. For Chen, he and his family left Taiwan for the US and formed a friendship with Gibson while the two were just teenagers. The two shared similar interests in school math clubs, school engineering clubs, and hanging out at the mall. When the two attended and graduated college, each had financial job postings of their own in New York City and were living in neighboring apartment complexes.
13. 100 Best Medium Workplaces
According to Fortune Magazine, NerdWallet is ranked seventeenth as among the best medium workplaces there is as an inclusive company that makes people feel welcome once they're hired. Currently, there are nearly five hundred employees that are working out of the headquarters in San Fransisco, California.
14. Now 160 Million Customers
As of 2021, according to the certified information provided by Great Places To Work, there are 160 million customers that are assisted annually when it comes to seeking and receiving financial guidance from the NerdWallet site and its team.
15. Christmas, College, and Coffee
Since his Stanford college days, Chen had wanted to go into business for himself, but was temporarily sidelined with a Wall Street job that fired him in 2008 when his company met with a financial crisis where they needed to let people go. This resulted in an unemployed Chen who saw an opportunity after learning how limited people were in finding unbiased information about important matters such as finance. After getting together with old college buddies, including Jacob Gibson, there was some brainstorming, as well as trial and error runs, that led to Chen manually inputting information about 7,400 credit unions into an Excel spreadsheet. After six months of trying to build a credit union tool, he only managed to get ten successful links out of it. He marked this as a lesson for his infamous fail wall.
16. The Fail Wall
With the mentality of failure is merely another opportunity to try and try again, Tim Chen has what's called a Fail Wall. It is a confessional wall of pasted notes shared by all members of the NerdWallet team who've each had their own bouts of failure whenever coming face to face with something that could have been successful but simply wasn't.
17. In Pursuit of Credit Cards
Despite the failures revolving around credit unions, Tim Chen knew the credit card business was still a lucrative one. Banks pay decent finder's fees for partners who bring quality customers to them. This is where NerdWallet began to make its money and become a profitable venture. For each person that visits their own website and applies for a credit card through them that connects to a specific bank based on their recommendation, NerdWallet stands to make a commission from that. On average, five percent of the people who visit the NerdWallet site will go ahead and apply for a credit card. Among those who are approved, NerdWallet may earn anywhere from zero to a few hundred dollars. It depends entirely on how the credit card application plays out and which financial institutions are involved.
18. Know Your Money Connection
In 2020, NerdWallet acquired the UK's Know Your Money, which runs a similar setup from its Norwich base of operations. This move branched NerdWallet to extend its services to more than just the American market. This was the first big move NerdWallet took to now become an international company that does business with financial institutions and insurance companies overseas. Know Your Money is the largest comparison site in the UK that has been catering to five million consumers and over one million businesses just in the past year. Now under NerdWallet's wing, the room for further growth and expansion has become more promising.
19. Fundera Connection
Also in 2020, NerdWallet has acquired Fundera, which is a small business loan marketplace that strives to help their own companies expand, much like NerdWallet has. Fundera's influence as a business loan marketer is to help new and struggling businesses to find the best possible options for growth. Since NerdWallet does the same for consumers, this pair-up serves as a potential dream come true to rescue struggling businesses who've had to contend with the ramifications that came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As transparent as NerdWallet strives to be with consumers, this same service is now extended to small businesses.
20. NerdWallet's Inspiration
When Tim Chen was fired from his job on Wall Street, shortly afterward his sister asked him for credit card advice. At the same time, his parents were asking him about mutual funds. Although his niche was in trading tech and media stocks, this didn't stop him from performing online searches on their behalf. This resulted in his disappointment at how ridiculous he found there was a lack of transparency in the very information he needed to learn more about. This resulted in Chen recruiting old college buddies, including Jacob Gibson, to put together what is known as NerdWallet today.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee