With over 50 million current users and $90 million in venture capital, Zillow foresees a long and prosperous future — but it wasn’t always like that. One of the biggest challenges when launching the internet database was assuring the real estate industry that, although Zillow empowers customers by providing access to information, they did not start the company to put real estate agents out of business. Once the real estate industry bought in to the company, Zillow soared.
The team that started Zillow, including myself, is made up of the same folks who started Expedia,” said Rascoff. “Expedia ruffled a lot of feathers in the travel industry by putting a lot of travel agents out of business. At Zillow, we had to explain that while we empower consumers by giving them access to information, we still believe real estate professionals play a crucial role in the industry.
Identifying a need
We created Zillow in 2006 because it seemed like there was all this incredible information locked up in secret databases, but it wasn’t readily available,” said Rascoff. “We started with the Zestimate, an idea that there’s a valuation on every home in the country, and we should endeavor to produce it on the website. In the last six years, we’ve added real estate listings, rental listings, mortgages and home improvement data.
Spencer joined Zillow as one if its founding employees in 2005 as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Marketing and served as its Chief Operating Officer from October 2008 through to his promotion to CEO in September 2010, leading the company through its IPO in July 2011. Prior to his role as CEO and Director of Zillow, Spencer co-founded Hotwire.com in 1999, which was later sold to Expedia in 2003.
Spencer then became Vice President of Lodging for Expedia, where he ran Expedia’s largest and most profitable business line. Before his consumer web career, Spencer was a private equity investor at TPG Capital, and an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, and Allen & Company.