Ever since Zillow was founded by Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, the Seattle online real estate company has faced scrutiny — some may say venom — from the real estate industry. Suspicions have always arisen about the company’s intentions.
Interestingly, nearly a decade after its launch, Zillow is still trying to make friends with the real estate agents and brokers— its primary customers.
Take, for instance, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff’s remarks today in the first quarter earnings call in which he noted that the company’s first goal in reaching out to the real estate community was to “explain ourselves.”
“What that means is teach those in the industry that we come in peace. That Zillow is a media company. We are not a brokerage. We are not a MLS. We do not compete with brokerages. We do not compete with MLSes. We sell ads. We don’t sell houses. That’s the number one goal of our industry relations efforts is just to explain what Zillow is, and what we are not, because there is a lot of disinformation that’s sown by people in the industry, and kind of a misunderstanding. So, that is goal number one.
Goal number two is to certainly try to find mutually beneficial ways for us to work with the industry, which benefit our partners, Zillow Inc. and Zillow’s users. For example, trying to explain to brokerages and MLSes why they benefit from having their listings on Zillow for free, on the largest real estate site on the Internet. That’s a key goal.”
Zillow has made some interesting moves of late to bolster its position in the real estate industry, hosting forums with top government housing officials and joining the Real Estate Standards Organization. Even more importantly, Zillow made waves — and got sued — when it hired industry veteran and former Move executive Errol Samuelson in March as chief industry development officer.
In fact, Samuelson was the subject of the last question in today’s earnings call, with Rascoff saying that he’s “excited to work with him and learn from him how best to communicate our value proposition to the industry.”