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BBVA Buys Banking Start-Up Simple For $117 Million

Simple, the Portland, Oregon company that’s seeking to reinvent personal banking with a new standard for customer experience and its people-first approach, announced in February that it is joining the global BBVA family of businesses. BBVA, a big bank based in Madrid, agreed to buy Simple for $117 million.

Created in 2009 by Shamir Karkal (MBA ’06) and Joshua Reich (MBA ’06), Simple offers its customers everything they need to spend smarter and save more. Customers receive the Simple Visa® card; powerful web, iOS and Android apps; integrated savings tools; and real customer service.

"Joining with BBVA gives Simple the resources, autonomy and global footprint we need to see our vision writ large," says Reich, CEO of Simple.

"This means that the things our customers love about Simple will remain unchanged. We will continue to embrace our philosophy, our business model and the way we treat customers. BBVA believes in our vision and the course we have set to transform the industry."

Simple will continue as an independent business operating in parallel with BBVA's U.S. banking operations. The company has experienced rapid growth since its commercial launch in July 2012. The company, which now has more than 100,000 customers and a growing team of 92 professionals, saw $1.7 billion in transactions in 2013 alone, grew its customer base 330 percent and helped tens of thousands of customers achieve their financial goals.

Karkal is a software engineer turned finance and banking expert. Prior to Simple, Karkal was a consultant with McKinsey & Co., specializing in strategy consulting for financial institutions in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S.

Reich’s career has spanned marketing analytics and quantitative finance, including running a data mining consulting firm, a quantitative strategy group at a $10 billion fund and core components at the mortgage lead market, Root Exchange.