Corporation of the Year: Fiserv Inc.

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Every time TV cameras panned over Fiserv Forum during the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff run, the Fiserv brand was prominently displayed in living rooms across the nation, and beyond.

When Fiserv purchased the arena’s naming rights in a 25-year contract in 2018, brand awareness of the business-to-business financial technology company surged. With the Bucks appearing in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals in 2019 for the first time since 2001, the value of the naming rights seemed to multiply beyond what many anticipated, paying dividends within the first year of the contract.

“It’s been an incredible bonus that the Bucks played well and we got the Democratic National Convention (which will be held at Fiserv Forum in July),” said Jeffery Yabuki, president and chief executive officer of Fiserv. “We’ve actually gotten some new business from executives outside of Wisconsin who have been watching the Bucks play and have looked up, ‘Hey, what does Fiserv do?’ and that has turned into business.”

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Jeffery Yabuki
Jeffery Yabuki

Beyond growing its name recognition through the arena deal, Fiserv made major news of its own in 2019 through a mega-merger with its acquisition of New York-based point-of-sale transaction company First Data Corp.

The $22 billion all-stock deal brought together two leading Fortune 500 firms to create the No. 1 global card issuer and merchant processor. As the “new Fiserv,” the company is expected to generate $15 billion in annual revenue and to nearly double its market capitalization to about $78 billion.

The acquisition gave Fiserv an end-to-end solution in the payment space – from the point a customer inserts their chip at the checkout to the back-end processing of their purchase. Through the acquisition, Fiserv also capitalized on a cross-selling opportunity by offering its Clover merchant system to the customers of banks.

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Fiserv’s colossal acquisition was unlike anything the fintech industry had yet seen, with experts forecasting more to follow. 

As predicted, Fiserv competitor FIS announced plans to acquire Worldpay in a $43 billion deal in March.

“After we announced our acquisition, there were two other very large transactions that followed,” Yabuki said. “Really talking about the fact that we pioneered a new path for how fintech and payments will operate from an industry standpoint.”

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For completing the massive merger and growing its brand recognition internationally through the arena naming rights deal, Fiserv is the BizTimes Best in Business 2019 Corporation of the Year.

As a result of the combination with First Data, Fiserv will hit record revenue and earnings for the year, Yabuki said in a Nov. 6 third-quarter earnings call. Combined sales performance was up 15% in the quarter and is up 8% year-to-date, he said.

“This has been a monumental year for Fiserv,” Yabuki said in the earnings call. “We were named (one of) the World’s Most Admired (Companies, by Fortune magazine) for the sixth year in a row, celebrated our 35th anniversary and, most importantly, combined with First Data to help achieve our aspiration of moving money and information in a way that moves the world.”

Fiserv has 48,000 employees worldwide, with roughly 1,000 located either in the company’s Brookfield headquarters or in Milwaukee-area offices. Since the acquisition, employee headcount in the Milwaukee area is “slightly up,” Yabuki said in a December interview with BizTimes.

“We will continue to view Milwaukee as one of our most important hubs,” Yabuki said. “We’re currently headquartered here and we currently have no plans to change that.”

However, as the company’s busy year draws to a close, it is back on the hunt for a new headquarters location in the area, Yabuki said. The search was suspended amid the First Data acquisition, which was more than a year after Fiserv first announced it was looking for a new headquarters.

“We really wanted to make sure that we got off to a fast start,” Yabuki said. “We’re just now picking up and looking at where we want to be based, how do we want to make sure we build out a platform that will allow us to attract the best and brightest people. I expect us to make that decision sometime in the early part of 2020.”

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