Zillow Valuation Now $350 Million

Zillow has landed $30 million in new financing, which comes on top of the $57 million already raised. The new round values the 155 employee “Zestimate” provider at $350 million, according to reporting by Rebecca Buckman at The Wall Street Journal.

CFO Spencer Rascoff called to provide some color to a fairly complete profile I wrote after the Inman conference in August. He reiterated blog comments
that while it seems counter-intuitive given the collapsed housing market, the site’s traffic is up 17 percent year over year since last August, according to Zillow’s internal records, with 4.4 million unique visitors. That contrasts with overall online real estate use, which is down two percent.

With the market down, “it’s less fun to Zillow yourself and your neighbors and friends,” Rascoff concedes. But “we’re getting less voyeuristic traffic and more buyer and seller traffic.” Using Zillow gives buyers and sellers “an edge.”

Rascoff adds that advertising is really coming into play. The site currently has 20 national ad sales persons, and typical national advertisers include mortgage lenders, auto makers, home improvement, home developers and insurance. “It’s an easy sell” given the site’s affluent base of users, he says, which has an average household income of $90,000.

Of 300 media sites that have over three million uniques, he notes that Zillow is #1. Of the sites that have more than one million uniques, Zillow is #8.

While national advertisers are increasingly drawn to Zillow, Rascoff actually has greater long-term expectations for the EZ Ads product, which have attracted 6,000 advertisers with an average spend of $50. This fall, he expects to see a rash of new advertisers on EZ Ads, ranging from mortgage brokers to local politicians. The largely local-based ads make up 10-20 percent” of total revenues now, but have the potential to dominate Zillow’s advertising, he says.

Rascoff also discussed the rising spam issue, as aggressive and increasingly desperate Realtors and mortgage brokers abuse the system — a problem that is impacting the entire Real Estate industry. (My wife, a Realtor with Century 21, is getting dozens of Realtor-related spam emails a day).

Zillow is aggressive trying to route out the spam, with 12 staffers flagging everything on the discussion boards and the Wiki, says Rascoff. The problem area, though, is the site’s real estate guide. But he seeks to keep the spam issue in perspective. One in every thousand contributions is a spam.

Rascoff also clarified what makes up a Zillow “contribution,” since there have been some questions in the industry that the site’s 25,000 daily contributions is as meaningful as it seems. He says everything that is sent is literally called a contribution; every photo, every email.
Of the 20,000 to 25,000 contributions, 10,000 are photos.

6 thoughts on “Zillow Valuation Now $350 Million

  1. Just on an impressionistic basis I’d conclude that Zillow’s real estate guide is riddled with spam – far more spam than Rascoff suggests.

    Without, again, any systematic sampling, I’d conclude that Zillow is not making a very credible effort to clean up the spam. I’ve gone in and reverted some egregious garbage to earlier versions of the page, seen the spammer revert them back, and seen Zillow appear to be oblivious to the process.

    Even entries that have been flagged have gone uncorrected for extended periods of time, if at all.

    Zillow doesn’t seem to ban any of the offenders from the site. The kind of people who engage in spam have downside. At worst, it seems, their spam sits uncorrected for 6 weeks, is overridden for a day or two, the sits uncorrected again for 6 weeks, if it’s even corrected at all.

  2. Hi, it’s David from Zillow,

    Joe –

    Spam in the wiki on Zillow has been a challenge but it’s one w eare addressing. Here’s what we’re doing about it:
    1) We removed attribution of the most recent editor and most recently created articles. Both features were creating a strong incentive for spam. Now, as you know, you have criticized this change but we have seen a dramatic decrease in spam submissions since it went in and it was clearly the right thing to do.
    2) Content flags are our primary mechanism for identifying spam. When wiki spam is flagged it’s removed by site moderators. We have just increased moderation coverage to 7 days a week so you should also notice an improvement to the immediacy with which we react to flags.

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