Zillow today released traffic numbers for February, reporting that unique visitors to its Web site and mobile applications reached 31.2 million during the month. That was an 86 percent increase over the same period last year, but down slightly from the 31.7 million visitors who interacted with Zillow in January.
Of course, February (even with a leap day factored in) is a shorter month. So, that could play a role. But even so, on a year-over-year basis the growth rate wasn’t quite as fast in February as it was in January. (January’s traffic growth rate was 102 percent).
Shares of Zillow dropped more than 3.5 percent today, now trading at $29.55. Zillow went public last summer at $20 per share.
Zillow, which employed 329 people at the end of 2011, also released its first annual report as a publicly-traded company on Friday. I am still sifting through the document for interesting nuggets.
But one tidbit that struck me was the company’s delicate dance between serving both advertisers and consumers, a tricky situation that traditional media companies have dealt with for years. Zillow wrote in the report that it always strives to put the interest of the consumer first, and they are willing to sacrifice advertising sales as a result. In fact, the company said that some real estate agents have chosen not to buy Premier Agent advertising subscriptions with Zillow because of the Zestimate it affixes to homes on the site. Other have balked at agent reviews.
“Although real estate and mortgage professionals who receive unfavorable reviews may be less likely to purchase our advertising products and services, we continue to post favorable and unfavorable reviews because we believe the reviews are useful to consumers in finding the right professional,” the company wrote. “Our principle of making decisions based primarily upon the best interests of consumers may not result in the long-term benefits that we expect, in which case our user traffic and engagement, business and results of operations could be harmed.”
That doesn’t appear to be having an impact yet, since revenues at Zillow more than doubled last year to $66 million.
The company also remains tightly held. At the end of 2011, co-founder and chairman Rich Barton held 46.3 percent and co-founder Lloyd Frink held 37.4 percent of the voting power of Zillow’s stock.
UPDATE: In other news, Zillow announced a partnership today with the Connecticut Multiple Listing Service whereby listings from the MLS will appear in the Yahoo-Zillow real estate network.
“This is great news for agents, consumers and the Connecticut MLS as it offers a definitive set of pristine data on Zillow and assures that listings will be seen by hundreds of thousands of local home shoppers, within a legal framework which protects the interests of the MLS, brokers, agents and home sellers,” said Greg Schwartz, Zillow’s chief revenue officer. The alliance follows some high-profile attacks on Zillow, and its growing power in the real estate industry.