The US fintech firm Intuit Inc. is planning to almost triple its research and development team in Israel, Vijay Anand, the company’s senior vice president for global development centers, told The Times of Israel.
The firm has signed a lease to set up a new R&D campus in Petah Tikva that has the capacity to increase staff to 500, up from its current employee count of 180.
“We leased a space (for) up to 500 today, but of course, the sky is the limit,” Anand said, speaking at the sidelines of a cybersecurity conference last month at Tel Aviv University.
Intuit provides financial management and compliance software and services for small businesses, consumers, self-employed and accounting professionals in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. The firm, founded in 1983, went public 10 years later with a share sale on the Nasdaq and today employs 9,000 workers in 19 locations in nine countries.
The $69 billion company had revenue of $6 billion in 2018, and has seen its shares traded on the Nasdaq advance 31% in the past 12 months, compared to a 9.32% return of the Nasdaq Composite Index.
The company started its activities in Israel via the acquisition of two startups — Check, in 2014, a developer of an app that allows users to pay all their bills in one place, and in 2015 Porticor, a developer of data encryption and cloud management tools. Intuit’s work in Israel focuses on artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and information security developments.
“These two acquisitions have been the foundation for our operations in Israel,” Anand said. But “I think we can do much bigger things in Israel…I think this can be a strategic pillar for us” because the firm is transitioning from being US-based to global.
To do that “we need the world’s best talent,” he said. “We need to go to the world’s biggest talent hotspots where the world’s best engineers, data scientists, product managers and designers live and figure out how to attract them.”
Israel, Anand said, is the firm’s second global development center after Bangalore, “and we want to grow this significantly.”
To grow, Intuit must be able to tap into a talented pool of workers, for which competition is steep. Israel faces an annual shortfall of 12,000 to 15,000 engineers a year, according to Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks the industry. And as more multinationals set up R&D centers in the so-called Startup Nation, the pinch grows.
A key to address this shortage, Anand said, is to work with the local ecosystem “to grow talent sources.”
“We work with universities,” he said, and the firm has also made it a priority to attract a diverse pool of people into its fold, especially reaching out to women.
In fact, Anand leads the Tech Women initiative at the firm globally.
“We have a similar talent situation in Bangalore,” he said. Women there find it very difficult to enter the tech workforce. So, Intuit set up a program in which girls from underprivileged backgrounds are matched in primary school with women sponsors, so they can have someone to cheer them on and to look up to as role models, he explained.
Diversity is important, he said, not only to grow the talent pool but to meet the demands and needs of a diverse customer base.
“We cannot actually deliver the best product experiences unless we actually have that diversity in our employee workforce,” he said.
Anand also believes Intuit will make additional acquisitions in Israel.
“I certainly hope so,” he said. “As a company, we made a bunch of big bets that are going to be the way we deliver great benefit for our customers. So, in all of those areas, technology, we know, is what is going to power all of that.”
“And so we’ll be looking at a broad range of areas, not just the areas we have today,” he continued. “We are constantly in touch with startups, and we are constantly interested in startups that have the same mission that we have: how to power prosperity, and bring unique technology that can make a difference.”