It is a good thing Zillow is moving to a new downtown Seattle office space this month. The 264-person company disclosed today in its first conference call as a publicly-traded company that it just opened 40 new positions, including jobs for software engineers and sales professionals.
One might imagine that the troubles in the overall economy — specifically in the housing market — might be weighing on Zillow. But that’s just not the case, even though CEO Spencer Rascoff said that he doesn’t think the real estate industry will hit bottom until 2012.
“We are certainly closer to the end of the housing recession, then the beginning. But we are not through it yet,” said Rascoff. “However, as you know, we have manged to grow quite nicely through this recession. And I think, actually, the housing downturn has accelerated the migration of advertising budgets for real estate advertisers from offline to online. And Zillow has been a beneficiary of that acceleration.”
Even so, Zillow is not yet capturing the bulk of those ad dollars. In remarks today, Rascoff noted that the company is getting less than one percent of the estimated $6 billion that local real estate professionals spend on marketing budgets.
But that could change as Zillow attracts more eyeballs, something it achieved during the second quarter. The company posted record traffic to its Web and mobile properties in July, with 23.2 million unique visitors for the month. That represented year-over-year growth of 98 percent.
As a result, more agents turned to Zillow to spread their message with the company’s “Premier Agent” advertising program growing by more than 180 percent to nearly 13,400 agents.
As we previously reported, Zillow also posted positive net income for the first time in the company’s history as revenues surged by 116 percent during the quarter.
Zillow also said today that it plans to do about $59 million to $61 million in revenue this year.
A couple other things struck me during the call, one being Rascoff’s insistence that Zillow is a technology company. (Certainly, he wants the company to be valued as one, and many could argue that Zillow already is with a value of $706 million).
He also noted that the company will be rolling out additional free marketing tools to real estate agents, following the introduction of Facebook Tabs and the Postlets listing syndication service. That could create a more interesting rivalry with Market Leader, the Kirkland online real estate company.
UPDATE: Shares of Zillow soared on Thursday, jumping more than 22 percent to $32.29. The company now has a market value of $866 million.