Wonder how much your home is really worth? Zillow has the answer. Its website for homeowners and buyers provides a free estimated market value using its proprietary formula ("Zestimate") for more than 110 million homes in America. Users enter an address into a search field, and Zillow computes the Zestimate and overlays it on a satellite map. The firm also provides home listings, neighborhood information, photos, purchase and sale data, and rental price estimates; offers mobile real estate apps; and sells subscription services that help find real estate agents and mortgage rates. Zillow was established in 2004 by Expedia founder Rich Barton and former Expedia exec Lloyd Frink. It went public in 2011.
The company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It also has offices in California, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York.
Sales and Marketing
Zillow’s Seattle-based sales team sells "Premier Agent" subscriptions to real estate agents. Its Lincoln, Nebraska and San Francisco, California sales teams handle the company's mortgage and rental marketplaces. The company maintains a field sales team to target larger advertising customers. Zillow itself spent more than $11 million on advertising during fiscal 2012.
The company's revenue has been surging year-over-year since 2008. In fiscal 2012 the company’s profits increased by 439% compared to fiscal 2011, due to its revenue nearly doubling. Zillow's revenue increased by 77% in fiscal 2012 compared to fiscal 2011, as the company focused on growing its marketplace revenue, which accounted for the majority of its revenue growth over that period. Zillow claimed $116.8 million in revenue for fiscal 2012 after bringing in about $66.1 million in fiscal 2011 and $30.5 million in fiscal 2010.
The company has been extending its reach across the Web through strategic partnerships, signing several agreements with third-party media firms. Through a deal with Yahoo!, it places home listings and ads from local real estate brokers on Yahoo!. It also launched an advertising relationship with Century 21 Real Estate for listings to appear on the Yahoo!/Zillow Real Estate Network. It also signed a pact with real estate website Curbed that allows Curbed.com visitors to search for local listings nationwide, and another with AOL that brings Zillow Mortgage Marketplace to the AOL Real Estate and DailyFinance websites.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Zillow has been using acquisitions to grow, funded in part through its IPO that raised some $69 million. In 2012 it acquired four companies including Rent Juice, a maker of software that landlords use to manage their properties, for $40 million. It did did so in order to boost its new push into the rental marketplace.
In 2011 it purchased the assets of Postlet, a real estate agent and rental property manager marketing service. Postlet created a platform that makes it easier for agents, property managers, and landlords to distribute listings on real estate and social media sites across the Web. Also that year it acquired Diverse Solutions, a company that helps real estate agents market their businesses and improve their personal websites.
The name "Zillow" combines the words pillow (where you lay your head at night) and zillions (the number of data points the firm desires to provide).