Redfin has watched some of its peers take on Wall Street, with Trulia and Zillow both going public in the past 20 months. So, is the Seattle online real estate brokerage going to make the plunge as well?
Seems so, but not in the near future. CEO Glenn Kelman tells Bloomberg that they plan to file paperwork for an IPO in 2013, with a goal of reaching the public markets in 2014.
That is, if they don’t screw it up.
Kelman, who is known for his bluntness and sometimes outrageous quotes, told Bloomberg that “we could still screw up.” The company is currently looking for a CFO to help guide the process.
That’s classic Kelman, who also once told Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” that real estate is “the most screwed up industry in America.”
A Redfin IPO would be closely watched in real estate circles, in part because it differs from Trulia and Zillow in that it employs actual real estate agents. Kelman has railed against the likes of Trulia and Zillow, noting that the “media sites will enslave us” if brokerages don’t get more innovative.
Redfin raised $14 million in venture capital last year from Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan, Vulcan Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Greylock Partners, bringing total capital raised in the 10-year-old company to $46 million.
In a column last year, we picked Redfin as a possible wild card to go public in 2012.
We’ve asked Kelman for comment about his remarks, and we’ll update this post as we learn more.
UPDATE: We heard back from Kelman, and here’s more from him on the company’s IPO plans.
I’ve always aspired for Redfin to be a public, independent company. Our hope is that we can become a public company in the next few years, but I try to be careful about a specific date first because there are all sorts of ways it could take longer depending on how the business performs, and second because we are still making very speculative investments that Wall Street isn’t set up to understand. If that takes more or less time, I won’t be disappointed.
Most importantly, a public offering for Redfin isn’t an end in itself; it’s a byproduct of our long-term effort to use technology and a focus on customer service to be the world’s best brokerage. Redfin launched our service six years ago. It’s a local business that grows market by market. It grows and grows like a force of nature. And it’s a huge opportunity. We are patient.