Does Move Want to Be Zillow?

Move (Nasdaq: MOVE  ) has caught something social.

The parent company of Realtor.com and other sites related to housing, apartment rentals, and moving services announced that it was acquiring SocialBios yesterday.

SocialBios essentially creates a universal "about me" page for individuals and "about us" page for companies, simplifying the discovery of shared connections across all social platforms. The application's growing popularity among real estate professionals led to SocialBios being tapped as the Best Tech Start-up at this year's Inman Connect NYC real estate conference.

"Real estate is inherently a social business," Move's chief product officer Scott Boecker said in yesterday's press release. "This acquisition brings a new element of discovery and creativity to our online real estate marketplace as we evolve our web, mobile and social search experiences."

No kidding. SocialBios' founder and co-founders are being brought in to help beef up Move's product development team.

It can't be a coincidence that this deal is announced during the same week that Zillow is going public. Just as someone sprucing up their home can send neighborhood prices higher, Zillow's debut is going to raise the value proposition of real estate sites with social hooks. If Zillow's IPO is a hot one, Move wants to let everyone know that it can be a socialite -- and that it's available for less just down the street.

At the high end of its valuation, Zillow will go public at nearly $500 million. Move, on the other hand, commands a market cap of nearly $360 million. Zillow posted a loss on $30.5 million in revenue. Move delivered $197.5 million in revenue, and would have posted a modest profit if not for an impairment charge on auction rate securities.

Why is Zillow about to command such a lofty premium to Move? It's all about the growth. Move's revenue haul last year was actually 7% lower than 2009's top-line performance. Zillow, on the other hand, grew its revenue by 74%, accelerating to a 111% surge during this year's first quarter.

Investors don't see real estate websites as attractive, and rightfully so. Market Leader, ZipRealty, Move, and even China Real Estate Information (Nasdaq: CRIC  ) all trade in the forgotten single digits. CoStar's (Nasdaq: CSGP  ) recent move to acquire rival LoopNet (Nasdaq: LOOP  ) may lead some to believe that there's life on the commercial real estate end of the dot-com spectrum, but LoopNet's going out for far less than its bubbly peak several years ago.

Zillow's debut will spark interest in this sector, but only for companies that appear to be drawing larger audiences through social and sticky features. Move so wants to be a part of that neighborhood, and SocialBuys -- while a small step -- is a move in the right direction.

Will you be buying or passing on Zillow's IPO this week? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of LoopNet. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't interested in selling his home, even if he recognizes that the once red hot South Florida market is a ghost of its former glory. He does not own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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