Houzz fires back at Zillow Digs: It’s a ‘complete knock off’


Rivalries take on all shapes and sizes, and there’s yet another interesting one brewing between Seattle-based Zillow and Silicon Valley upstart Houzz. As we noted earlier today, Zillow pushed right onto Houzz’s home turf, if you will, with the launch of new home improvement web site and iPad app called Zillow Digs. 

And what does Houzz, which landed $35 million in venture capital last week, think of Zillow’s efforts?

Gabriela Hebert, director of communications for Houzz, tells GeekWire that Zillow’s new service is a “complete knock off.”

Ouch, those are fighting words. And yet it appears as if it is another entanglement between Zillow and a Sequoia-backed startup. (As I mentioned in the earlier piece, Sequoia is also a backer of Trulia, a longtime rival of Zillow that is now locked in a patent fight with its larger competitor over the Zestimate).

“When we built Houzz three years ago, we recognized that the home remodeling and design industry was a huge and underserved market. New copycats will continue to come and go. We’ve been aware of Zillow’s efforts for some time and are flattered by their entrance, which further validates the market opportunity we identified early on,” said Hebert.

We asked Zillow for comment about Houzz earlier this week, and spokeswoman Cynthia Pang declined to comment directly about its new competitor.

I really can’t comment on Houzz, but with Zillow Digs, for the first time, home shoppers and homeowners instantly can get kitchen and bathroom remodel estimates on the actual photos they are viewing, and based on their location, for free. And Home improvement professionals can upload pictures of their past work and provide real cost information.

Zillow is certainly well aware of Houzz’s growing community, now with more than 12 million monthly unique visitors and 160,000 design professionals. That’s a good chunk of Zillow’s overall 45 million monthly visitors, so it was probably time for company to put its stake in the sand.

Previously on GeekWireZillow Digs vs. Pinterest: Inside Zillow’s big bet to transform home improvement

  • Thomas R.

    If you don’t have a business model, you can acquire it (overpay as in the case of RentJuice) or copy it (Houzz). It’s the nice thing about having cash in the bank.

    That being said, Zillow isn’t endearing itself much to the startup community with patent litigation (Trulia) and trashing competitors publicly (Redfin). Innovation died when the company went public.

    • Jenny

      For everyone who bashes Zillow, I think it is often overlooked that Zillow is the innovator of this industry; the first company to open any home information to the public helping both consumers and agents. I know this is an over-battled argument, but I’m sick of hearing these sort of comments. Let’s think about it, who are the copycats?

      • Thomas R.

        Ma’am, I will say that Zillow did innovate, but back in 2007 when they first launched, but have not since then. Please name something they have done since then.

        Your question is who are the copycats? Did Houzz in any way copy something from Zillow? You would be hard pressed to say that Zillow did not copy Houzz and that is my point.

      • Andy Y.

        Not too sure what you are talking about Jenny. The only thing Z innovated was forecasting a Zestimate. Tht Zestiamte was the ire of every real estate broker and agent in the US for years. Their biggest stumbling block when they finally tried to get listings like Trulia did – first. Trulia had a full year+ lead on presenting before unavailable MLS and Broker data to the public for no fee. Here is a reference. http://www.seattlepi.com/business/article/Homes-for-sale-now-listed-on-Zillow-1221762.php They did not even start adding listings until the end of 2006, even then they did not have major successes until well after Trulia did, going as far as copying Trulia’s feed specifications to ease their penetration. Smart move, but again, they aren’t innovators, they are very smart business people and that’s what Wall Street and investors care about.