The Fool recently explored Seattle. Today, CEO Spencer Rascoff introduces us to Zillow (NASDAQ: ZG ) , telling us how the online home and real estate marketplace works, what he considers its greatest strengths, and what investors should know about it.
Looking ahead five years, Spencer foresees a major emphasis on mobile services, and expects the brand name to become a household word. Spencer also explains why he identifies with tech companies such as OpenTable and WebMD.
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Austin Smith: A lot of young products in your pipeline. Five years out, you've got some slightly more mature revenue streams. What does Zillow look like?
Spencer Rascoff: Wow. Well, five years from now we're -- almost exclusively might be a little bit of an overstatement -- but a predominantly mobile company. We already are, 55%-60% of our usage is mobile. Five years from now, who knows what that number will be, but it'll be very, very significant. Usage of Zillow on smartphones and tablets will be massive.
I think we'll have a much bigger brand. Today we're about 50 million uniques in the U.S., but only about 12% of Americans recognize the brand name Zillow. We're spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising in 2013 to try to change that. By five years from now, I think the Zillow brand name will be as widely recognized as Netflix or Expedia or other vertical-leading brands.
Of course at that point, we become more of a must-buy for local advertisers in real estate, mortgages, rentals, and home improvement because if they want to grow their business they need to advertise on Zillow, which will be the leading brand in our category.
Austin: I know we talked about maybe companies that you guys might ... what other young, successful tech companies -- maybe Netflix -- do you guys identify with, associate with?
Spencer: From a strategy standpoint, I identify a lot with OpenTable because they have a great mobile presence and a desktop presence, which attracts an audience of consumers, and then they provide software tools to the restaurants, so they marry lead generation with SaaS B2B software tools so, strategically, I look at OpenTable quite a bit.
I look at WebMD a lot from an industry standpoint, in the sense that WebMD is no more a threat to doctors than Zillow is a threat to real estate agents. Consumers go to WebMD to learn information about their ailments, but then they go to a doctor to help them interpret it.
Consumers go to Zillow to learn about real estate, but then they go to a professional real estate agent or mortgage lender to help them interpret the information.