Zillow.com makes its first buy: Online listing service Postlets

Zillow.com has pretty much grown on its own since Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink founded the company in 2005, preferring to build rather than buy. But that’s changing today as the Seattle online real estate company announces the purchase of Postlets, an online service that allows agents, property managers and other real estate professionals to distribute listings across 13 real estate sites. It marks the first acquisition in Zillow’s history.

Postlets topped 500,000 users earlier this year, and it already had a deal to syndicate listings through Zillow.

In a blog post, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff wrote that agents have flocked to Postlets because it is easy-to-use and free.

“Agents love Postlets because you create a property listing just once, and Postlets automatically distributes it across the Web,” Rascoff says. “Plus, when you create an account on Postlets, you get a personalized landing page so you can showcase all of your “Postlets” in one place. You can then customize your personal gallery with a company logo and an “about me” page where you can describe your services and upload a personal photo to help you gain even more exposure.”

Zillow’s Rascoff said that Postlets will continue to send listings to its distribution partners as part of today’s deal. Those include some of Zillow’s primary rivals, such as Trulia. It will be interesting to see how Trulia responds to the buy given the intense competition between the two companies.

One possible outcome is that Trulia goes after vFlyer, which competes with Postlets. (The way Trulia and Zillow go back and forth, that wouldn’t surprise me).

Backed with $87 million in venture capital, Zillow.com now attracts more than 19 million unique visitors per month. (19.4 million for the month of March to be exact).

Postlets was founded in the same year as Zillow by Asher Matsuda and Raymond Chen, who started the company as a side project.

A spokeswoman for Zillow declined to comment when asked if we might see more acquisitions by the company in the future.

UPDATE: Brian Boero over 1000 Watt Consulting offers some great insights on the deal, writing that it “underscores just how intense the battle to acquire, control, monetize and measure listing data truly is.” And he too wonders how Trulia will respond:

“If I’m Trulia, right now I’m either pissed, happy that Zillow felt compelled to do something it surely did not want to do, or looking for my own pipeline to control.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    This should certainly help them in their quest to attract more listings and improve the quality and accuracy of their database. Solutions like Postlets make the process easier for real estate agents to post listings, which should encourage more agents to use Zillow for advertising their listings.

    In some markets they have direct syndication relationships with MLS systems, but that is hard or impossible to achieve nationwide. They also have partnered with a number of large brokerages to syndicate the listings for the entire company. Postlets addresses the huge number of individual agents and independent brokerages that fall outside of those scenarios which represent a huge portion of the real estate market.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Postlets! As we’re all aware, the existing Multi-List Service (MLS) is ridiculously out of date, studded with arcane prohibitions on commentary and sharing. I look forward to truly innovative companies like Zillow creating solutions that embrace, extend, and extinguish the antiquated MLS.

  • http://www.lofts.com/blog Shuki Haiminis

    Any idea on the terms or acquisition price Zillow paid?