Is Zillow.com getting ready to go public? That’s the word on the street after BusinessWeek reported — citing three unnamed sources — that the Seattle online real estate powerhouse is talking to Citigroup about a possible IPO.
When contacted by GeekWire, Zillow spokeswoman Amy Bohutinksy declined to comment on the report or the the company’s future plans. But an IPO is not out of the question for Zillow, the heavily-funded startup created by former Expedia executives Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink.
Zillow has hinted in the past that an IPO is in its future. And, the company’s primary rival, San Francisco-based Trulia, also is thinking about going public. Last month, Trulia distributed a press release noting that it had hired two top executives as part of an effort to create an “IPO-ready” management team.
Zillow and Trulia don’t release financial information — one of the benefits of being private. But it’s my guess that Zillow is the bigger of the two companies — at least in terms of revenue and employees.
Zillow executives have casually talked about IPO dreams in the past. And the company does have a lot to prove, having previously raised $87 million in venture capital from Benchmark Capital and others.
At some point, Zillow will have to return that capital — and then some. Is it time to do so?
Well, the company made a key transition last fall when co-founder Rich Barton handed the CEO reins to Spencer Rascoff. At the time, Zillow said that it was making money — a key milestone these days for companies looking to sell shares to the public.
If I were a betting man, I’d say that Zillow doesn’t complete a public offering in 2011. (It may file, but I don’t think it will get done this year). But, who knows. I’ve been wrong before.
John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire, a Seattle tech news site. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews.