Interview with Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin

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Here’s an interview with founder and CEO of Credit Karma which I reviewed a few days ago.

1. Ken, what was your motivation in starting Credit Karma?

Having worked in financial services for over a decade, I’ve always understood the importance of good credit. About 3 years ago, I tried a credit monitoring service and couldn’t understand why it was so expensive to monitor my own score. I mean it was my score, why should I have to pay so much for it? With that experience, I set out to find a better way to provide consumer access to their credit score.

2. Why is it still in beta and what improvements are you looking at bringing in as time goes on?

We plan on coming out of Beta before the summer. With our official release, we will have new services that further demystify credit. It will add lots of comparison points and relevance for our members. It will also help consumers save money by showing consumers how to best leverage their credit.

Long term, I don’t know if the product will ever be complete. Credit and credit scores are a complicated subject for consumers. You have to remember that the whole industry was built for lenders and banks. As such, we think there are many tools and resources that still need to be built for consumers. Our Credit Simulator is a perfect example the type of tools we are building. If you aren’t familiar with our simulator, it recalculates our score based on your specific credit report on 14 common actions. So look for more of those interactive tools over time.

3. What do you believe is the greatest benefit of Credit Karma?

TheStreet.com had a great article on how a good credit score could save an average consumer over $1MM in interest over their lifetime. On Credit Karma, our goal is to show consumers how to optimize their credit score and to achieve those savings. Think about it, if we could just help consumers save 10% of the potential, it would be $100,000 in interest alone. We think that is important and we think it is important for consumers to begin the learning process.

4. Why should anyone try Credit Karma right now?

First, the service is completely free. So that should be a very good reason.

Secondly, in this economic climate, good credit is more important than ever. Consumers have to remember that good credit doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years to build and only a few missed payments to destroy. Consumers need to start paying more attention to their credit and embrace managing it.

5. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your Credit Karma score? 🙂

My credit score is currently 784. It was 10 points higher but in the last few months my HELOC was frozen and one of my inactive credit card accounts was closed by the issuer. I think my experience just underscores how this economy is affecting everyone’s credit, good or poor. Luckily for me, I knew some of the tips to keep my score from spiraling down and I hope our members find the same tips on Credit Karma.

Ken, I’ve personally used the service for over a year now and I love it! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me.

4 thoughts on “Interview with Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin”

  1. Nice Interview. The more we can all do to empower people to manage their credit scores the better. Most folks are scared to death to see whats in their report.

  2. Is Credit Karma a Hoax. I have tried to log on several times and it tells me that my E Mail has already been claimed, and that my password is not correct, and I don’t have the right name for my security question which is my High School….it has not been user friendly…

  3. Arthur, Credit Karma is not a hoax. I have and still use it to this day. Try different capitalization on the name of the high school to try and reset the password. If that doesn’t work, try emailing them. They might be able to help you out.

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