Zillow appoints new CEO, talks growth

Spencer Rascoff takes charge of the online real estate service. Former CEO and co-founder Rich Barton will continue to lead board of directors.

Online real estate service Zillow.com on Tuesday announced a new CEO, Spencer Rascoff.

Rascoff was formerly Zillow's COO and vice president of marketing. Before joining the company, he was vice president of lodging at Expedia. And prior to that, Rascoff co-founded travel site Hotwire in 1999 and sold it to Expedia for $675 million in 2003.

Rascoff replaces Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, who will maintain his position as executive chairman of Zillow's board of directors. Co-founder Lloyd Frink will give up his role as president and become Zillow's chief strategy officer. The company said it's doing away with the position of president.

In an interview on Tuesday, Barton said Zillow's decision to promote Rascoff reflects two realities: "The company is ready and Spencer is ready."

Spencer Rascoff, Zillow's new CEO.
Spencer Rascoff, Zillow's new CEO. Zillow

Zillow performed relatively well under Barton's leadership. According to the company, it attracted 12.5 million unique visitors in August, representing a 41 percent gain over the prior year. Its Mortgage Marketplace service, which helps users find mortgage lenders, tallied 314,000 loan requests in August, representing a "six-fold" gain over August 2009. Zillow also said that its app for iOS, Android OS, and Windows Mobile has been downloaded more than 2 million times.

Barton, who also serves on the board of directors at Netflix, said Zillow became profitable for the first time in 2010. That said, the company was forced to lay off 25 percent of its staff in 2008 to prepare for the economic downturn.

Going forward, Rascoff has lofty goals for Zillow. In an interview Tuseday, he said his main goal is to "grow [Zillow's] reach." But a key component in Zillow's business, and one that Rascoff wants to exploit, is its Mortgage Marketplace.

Rascoff said that he wants to "grow the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace into a big product." The company current sells display ads in the marketplace. It also takes a fee from lenders when borrowers choose them to follow through on a loan request. He would like to see more growth in the marketplace to maximize revenue in those areas.

But increasing revenue is just one part of Zillow's long-term financial strategy. Rascoff said he plans on making Zillow a public company when the time is right.

"An IPO would be helpful and desired goal," Rascoff said. "We would like to be public. And we intend to be public. And the company is working to achieve that goal."

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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